I spent Tuesday night peeping into a world of semi-celebrity, first at an awards do and then at a Soho club, a haunt of the rich and famous which my well-connected work friend took me to. And I’ve been dying to blog about it since. It was like being David Attenborough, crouching in the undergrowth watching strange creatures in their natural habitat.
The awards were sprinkled with a strange and gaudy mix of footballers and their shiny wags and wannabe wags, Big Brother graduates, esteemed athletes and, oddly, Dame Helen Mirren (unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to confront her about daterapegate). I eyeballed ex-boyband members with thinly concealed intrigue- I’m a secret celeb spotter at heart. But I was befuddled by the necessity, it seemed, for everyone to greet everyone else in the VIP room . After a few minutes of thinking “wait, do I know you?” as another person came steaming up shrieking “hiii! How aaare you?”, I realised that this is just the modus operandi for such things, and went along with it. Soon my cheeks were aching from smiling blankly at people who had no intention of holding a conversation with me, that night or ever.
Later on, outside the club, baubled night owls argued with the club doormen to be let in, as we breezed past the queue. Inside, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. To be honest, you could take the place out of Soho and plonk it in Magaluf, and it wouldn’t seem out of place- giant cocktails and all. But it obviously works hard at getting so-called “somebodies” to populate it’s slightly naff interior.
Alongside the dancefloor, where the civilians were free to mingle, the club also had half a dozen tables, which apparently were arranged according to some sort of hierarchy. The vvips sat at one particular table- the tightly drainpiped music boys and wispy models with hair bigger than hips. Now, I’m not a girl who gets to sit at the metaphorical vip table of life (and nor do I want to be, not for more than one night anyway), so it was rather novel to be sat at one in this club- which in reality, of course, was no different from any other table in the place. Talk about the emperor’s new skinny jeans. Oh, except the drinks were free (grey goose vodka and a shared cocktail as tall as me, I am not joking).
I watched the vvip tables from my not-so-important table with a half horrified, half titillated, very much amused expression, as the beautiful people fell about in a studied fashion, clasped and kissed and danced in such as a way as to signify debauchery and fabulosity. I didn’t notice much actual communicating with each other going on. Every movement was coreographed as if they were being photographed, which by the way they were, by a man with huge hair and a salacious wink, who shrieked “nooo! Are you leaving?!” when I left, having not said no more than hello all evening.
On the way to the loos, a lithe little fellow in a sparkled grey jersey waistcoat and Henry Holland hair approached my friend with lips puckered for an air-kiss. Apparently he was the promoter of the night.
“Helloooo, gorgeous! You look fabulous!” he enthused.
They actually say fabulous. You’re fabulous, this is fabulous, fabulous shoes, fabulous friends. What they really mean is “I’m fabulous”.
As I followed my friend, he pounced on me in a similar, though less enthusiastic fashion (having not yet ascertained whether I “was” anyone, I suppose). “You look fabulous”.
“Thanks” I said, deadpan, channelling Darlene from Roseanne despite myself.
As we made our way through the bouffanted lollilop ladies, my friend told me that just the week before, the same guy had approached her and hissed: “Who are you and what are you doing on this table?”. When he found out she was pals with a genuine slebrity, he was suddenly all kisses and darlings. Sweetie.
There’s a very quick, very expert glance that is executed when the beautiful people meet someone new: up/down/face/hair/body. They want to establish if you matter or not. Do they recognise you? Should they know you? And if you’re not important, are you thin and gorgeous enough to decorate their table? And there’s also an unpleasant edge of cocaine, which sharpens a person so that if The Glance reveals that you’re nobody important or not sufficiently glamorous, they can’t conceal the impatience in their face as they rub the end of their nose and look over your shoulder for someone proper to talk to once you’ve introduced your tedious self.
Look, I get that it’s probably exhilerating and fun to be at the heart of the “in crowd” and to rock about the city being a beautiful person. And I’m sure the individuals themselves are perfectly lovely, if you made proper friends with them. But the “scene” itself seems so shallow. It just didn’t seem to be backed up by real affection and real enjoyment. There’s the restless, searching sense that the real It crowd must be elsewhere. At one point a guy in a suit, who clearly felt himself to be at the edges of something, well, fabulous, by being in the club, turned to me and said “so what are you? Fashion? Music?” You know, because what other world is there??? It stuck in my craw to reply “television”, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.
I left at 1am. I’d had a good time with my friend, of course, because she is great fun and so were her pals. And I’d found the whole experience somewhat hilarious if a little baffling. But I was grateful to kick off my high heels, order a plate of overpriced room service fish and chips (at the awards do, the champagne was free but the canapes were scarce), and look forward to getting back to my non-fabulous, fabulous life at home.