Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fluid London Goes Walkabout

Recently, the nice people at Walkabout offered four members of the Fluid team the opportunity to hang out at their Temple Walkabout venue for the evening, entirely on the house (I told you they were nice). It would have been highly unprofessional to turn down such a cordial invitation and so myself (Christian), Arthur, Laura and Claire dutifully accepted the offer. Here is what the four of us thought about our evening:

Christian Rose-Day:
Last time I was here, I was thrown out. I say thrown out, I mean I was told that my crossed-eyed swaying in the centre of the dancefloor was cause to politely suggest that I should probably go home to bed. Perhaps my weak grip on the pint of Fosters I was spilling was a giveaway.

Regardless, that epoch has long since been buried in the rubble of time and I am now ticking a different box when filling out the ‘age’ section of any form or questionnaire. I’m also wiser (hopefully) and less inclined towards raucous behaviour prompted by a rampant lager binge. No, it’s all ales and ciders for me now. Hence, I was sceptical about what an oldie like myself could possibly get out of a visit to Walkabout, despite the kind offer extended to us.

Well, three pear Kopparberg ciders and a rooftop full of good British sunshine later and I was convinced that I had misjudged my former conceptions of Walkabout. My first ever taste of kangaroo also had a part to play in this assumption, being that it was a leaner, more compact competitor to a beef burger, although the burger buns and fries were woeful in comparison to the meat. The view across the coach car park that is Embankment and out over the River Thames must also get a mention here because there aren’t many land-based venues on the north bank that can beat it. Well done Temple Walkabout, and well done the Temple Walkabout table staff stationed up on the roof terrace. Their manners are as alacritous as that of a kids’ show host.

It was only when the sun dipped and we went inside [weird exit policy which means roof-dwelling punters who need the loo must walk around to the front door to enter] that I began to feel a tad old. It was a Monday night and Temple Walkabout was rammed full of youngsters from every corner of the globe dancing to what is probably played on Radio 1 (certainly not Radio 6 Music). I think I was the only person there who wasn’t asked for ID. The theme for the night was allegedly Spanish/Brazilian but none of us recalled any salsa music. Perhaps the Spanish/Brazilian element was down the customers, who were clearly from climate more clement than ours.

Laura Collins:
“....where beer does flow and men (and women!) chunder...”

The eve of my 23rd birthday was spent in Walkabout. The day I turned 23 was spent mainly in the bathroom.  For one night only, I had embraced not only the Australian attitude to having a good time but rather a lot of their shots as well.  Needless to say, the thought of setting foot in a Walkabout again sent a few shudders through me and brought back a few nauseating memories.

For that very reason, I am proud of my recent actions.  I had a refined night at Temple Walkabout.  On a regular Monday in July (a few too many years on from my 23rd birthday) I hadn’t envisaged spending my night in Walkabout but after hearing this particular venue had a roof terrace, I was game.  After all, sitting outside in the rare English sunshine meant I didn’t have to go near any shots or dance on any tables.  And am I glad I dislodged any preconceptions out of my mind.  My night in Walkabout was a pleasant surprise.  Not only did I learn that it’s not all sticky floors, pints of snake bite and far too many drunken companions, I also tasted a bit of Australian culture – well, the national animal anyway.  That’s right, I tucked into a kangaroo salad. Admittedly, visions of me in Australia zoo stroking the joeys did come flooding back, especially when the waitress reminded me that kangaroos were on the Australian currency, but I thought I would embrace the moment anyway – that’s what I did last time after all.  The kangaroo was bloody ace (in my best Australian accent) and the service that came with it was top notch.  Plus, on the roof terrace I could listen to the sound of the birds and the River Thames rather than the familiar cries of Kylie Minogue and Men at Work ....who “come from the land down under”.

Arthur Browne:
Temple Walkabout is certainly jiving on a Monday night - it would appear those £1.50 drink deals are a winner in central London. There was something very pleasant about a few lazy drinks up on the terrace overlooking the river, followed by a descent into a lively space with a vast bar and a healthy mix of drinkers and dancers. What won my stomach over might surprise you. It was neither the Aussie beverages nor the Kangeroo burger - nope, try the most generous slice of chocolate cake seen in many a moon plus two dollops of ice cream. It might have made me feel like I deserved to walk home but it was without doubt a dessert to do the word 'decadent' justice.

Claire Williams:
I must be getting old.

It used to be that Friday was the night to go out. I’d never miss a Friday night in town. I’d get together with the girls – we’d dress, paint our faces and fog the bathroom out with hairspray, deodorant and all manners of toxic ozone destroying sprays – and we’d stagger out (already half-cut, having drunk cheap wine straight from the bottle like the classy girls we are), ready to paint the town bright red.

Then, out of nowhere, Fridays were out (pubs and bars mysteriously empty, save for the resident drunks in the corner who were delighted for our company), and Saturdays were in. No one told us, and like people turning up at the wrong place for the party we continued going out on Friday, dismayed by the lack of people (“has everyone moved? Is Shoreditch no longer cool?”), until by chance we stumbled into the busiest pub on the way back from our ‘Gym Saturdays’ – and didn’t leave until 4 in the morning. (Just as Friday nights out became a thing of the past, so therefore did ‘Gym Saturdays’. And thank God. I’ve never liked the gym.)

And then, with no rhyme or reason, Thursday became the new Friday. Rolling in still drunk Friday morning became acceptable behaviour, and many a grumble was shared over pints of water and soluble aspirin.

So it is – Thursday is the night to go out. I’m used to that. I’ve changed my routine and it makes my week longer. I’m happy. So what is this – I venture out on a Monday night (oh Monday, a night contentedly dedicated to Eastenders and a tub of ice-cream) to meet some Fluid people for a bit of a (quiet, reserved) knees up at the Temple Walkabout venue. And lo and behold, the place is jam packed! Is Monday the new night out?! Do I have to change my routine – yet again?!

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