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Clubland and the Cybernet Cafe.

Theatre of Mammaries, Theatre of Moths.

Sixty artists, five hundred guests and an uphill struggle

An installation/performance from the Ding Dong Twist Club

 

 

 

The thin red line between heaven and hell was stretched to the point of transparency last weekend, and through it one could watch the pretentious and the dumb gazing at each others navels in the art/life mirror. The Club, with it's history of finding daft ways to say clever things , would have to side with the latter if it was an issue, but our interests lay elsewhere.

Clubland is a youth centre built in the thirties and maintained since then by the Methodist church it incorporates; it also houses a cinema, theatre, canteen ,gymnasium (complete with ash trays at regular intervals) and even a sick bay for the pre-NHS children it catered for. The funds to build it were raised by the Reverend Jimmy Butterworth who toured America in search of donations, persuading many stars of Hollywood to pledge money. His study is lined with the photographic evidence of his conquests which include a picture of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby sauntering down the Walworth Road to view their investment while Little Jimmy scuttles along behind them. A tiny man who liked to be photographed in tophat and shorts, (this was before we knew better than to allow the clergy unrestricted access to minors) Jimmy can also be seen gazing up at the 'statuesque' Mickey Rooney. The Walworth Road is still a bleak and despondent place at night and once the metal shutters have blocked the neon light from the shops people hurry indoors before dark . The only sound over the traffic is that of police incident boards, chained to lamp-posts, rattling in the wind. So it was quite something that over the twenty four hours of this event hundreds of people attended; unfortunately, given the size of the place, it never felt like more than fifty.

So how did a band of raggedy arsed artists and their nincompoop pals get to desecrate these premises, and what of it? Why was the gymnasium a foot deep in peat while a naked giant displayed his hessian and horsehair genitalia? Why was a girl in a leather dress having eggs broken on her elbows as cornflakes were poured down her cleavage?I dare say that Saturday's wedding party, or the congregation who shuffled in at 9.00am for the Sunday morning service are asking the same question, or the throng of worshippers who invaded the Cybernet Cafe at 3.00pm for a memorial service. Church business took priority. and so did its rules of behaviour. The 'no alcohol allowed on the premises' rule was being stricty enforced by a blind vigilante, mine-sweeping for tinnies with his white stick whilst being led about by his wife( who bore a stricking resemblance to Rosemary West). He was frustrated at being able to smell the whisky in the Coke bottles and hear the distant ring-pull of a Grolsch can while his wife could find no evidence. A hole was kicked through the fence onto wasteland opposite Clubland, and an impromptu bar arranged as small bonfires sprang up. The ' noise curfew' of 11.pm was equally un-enforceable.

Meanwhile, back in the canteen, visitors struggled with defective Atari keyboards and obsolete Macs interspersed with platters of luncheon meat sandwiches or plates of jammy dodgers. Those who braved the inefficient and curmudgeonly service were rewarded with 'mince on toast', ' peas on toast' or 'tomatoes on toast' and a mug of stewed tea with sterilised milk. . The one catering concession -made to complement the new technology - was the addition of' cappuchino' to the drinks list. Made with Tesco-value instant coffee and a squirt of aerosol cream it was as authentic as anything Pellici's might offer.

Vic,meanwhile, persevered with his intention to play on the canteen stage for twenty minutes every two hours, if only to frustrate the gaggle of nitwits waiting to re-enact childhood nightmares or perform 'contemporary ballads'. Thanks to Ken Ardley for attending; after seven years keeping his Playboys on the road he is no stranger to apathy and indifference, and as he perched on a case of tinned mince behind the counter of the 'Cybernet Cafe' and sipped flat Grolsch from a teamug it must have given him no satisfaction to gaze across a near empty hall to see Vic regale the few with his myths of arson, theft and dogslaughter , his erratic strumming foiled by the flat PP9 of the drum machine.