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Clubbed To Death: How To Make The Perfect Clubbing Movie

Posted on Monday September 5, 2011, 15:54 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Clubbed To Death: How To Make The Perfect Clubbing Movie

Even if you don’t spend too much time fretting about your age, there are movies that make you feel a bit too old for things. (500) Days Of Summer, for example, makes me feel a bit too old for the following things: moochy crushes on slightly mysterious girls, drunken singing of Pixies songs, and doey-eyed navel-gazing. Admittedly, I did have a go at being a bit zany in Ikea recently.

Weekender is one of those kind of films. Superficially it’s a thriller-cum-buddy-movie, but deep down it’s a love letter to clubbing and house music, all the things are 30-something aspiring family man (one day... maybe) should be filing away with the ripped jeans, hi-tops and passion for cola bottles. As I walked out feeling like I’d stumbled from a nightclub, it dawned on me that I’m now officially Way Too Old for clubbing. My running man has developed early-onset arthritis, the beanie makes me look like an extra in Last Of The Summer Wine and strobes make me go all cross-eyed, although it’s hard to tell because my peepers have long since retreated to the back of my head and put the kettle on.

Luckily, as Weekender proves, movies are evocative enough for those moments of dance-floor nostalgia – times when the thought that "maybe it's time for one last hurrah" bounces through my mind. No. It. Isn’t. Stick on a DVD, though, and, presto, I’m back in silly trousers, doing endless versions of ‘Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardbox Box’, and land-grabbing the nearest podium. And I don’t have to leave the house. It’s like Mr. Benn with a glow stick.

While there are some milieu that seem completely beyond the ken of filmmakers – I’ve never seen a single big-screen football match that feels even vaguely like the real thing (sorry Pele) – movieland has usually done a pretty bang-on job of translating four-to-the-floor thrills to the screen. Give or take the odd – okay, really odd – DJ cameo from John Digweed (Groove) and Carl Cox (Human Traffic), you feel like you'd happily go to those clubs. I've never felt like I wanted to watch Sylvester Stallone organise a defensive wall.

Weekender probably won’t make my film of the year list but it still brought that familiar tingle back. Any fading clubber will get a ginormous kick out a soundtrack lovingly compiled by X-Press 2’s Terry Farley. I visited the film’s set last year and can vouch for the lengths the filmmakers went to substitute East London 2010 for Manchester circa 1990. For one thing, the rave scenes were shot in a Hackney squat so unhygienic it’d make the Death Star’s trash monster think twice. The pervading whiff of bin juice aside, the set was a rave wonderland. There enough camouflage netting to hide a serious number of WMDs, acres of day-glow graffiti and, randomly, a big picture of a psychedelic Captain Pugwash. The club scenes were filmed with a cast of willing East London extras who turned up and got dancing, while an actual DJ spun tunes from behind the decks/crates. Maybe that's the answer. Want a real on-screen club? Use real clubbers.

In honour of Weekender’s Ellesse-clad army, I thought I’d come up with a few of my favourite movie clubbing moments. Warning: there’s controversy (no Human Traffic), transgender snogging (Trainspotting) and strobe lighting (all of them):

– ‘For What You Dream Of’ (Bedrock)
Okay, it’s a film that really only pops its head round the door of the ‘90s house scene, before sacking it of in favour of 5-aside and enough smack to fell a gnu, but in one scene it captures the zeitgeist through the dilated pupils of Renton, Sick Boy and Begbie. The latter’s dance-floor ‘mix-up’ is still a salutary lesson in waiting until the lights come up before you try any funny business.

Go – 'Fire Up The Shoesaw' (Lionrock)
Like Human Traffic only with 100 percent less Danny Dyer, Go is more about the rituals around clubbing than clubbing itself (okay, that and sinister Amway rackets), but it does kick off with a barnstorming sequence that plunges headfirst into the middle of a Justin ‘Lionrock’ Robertson classic, sampling Nancy Sinatra’s even-more-classic 'These Boots Were Made For Walkin'’. It’s a reminder that (a) Americans invented this stuff and (b) Waaaaaaaaa-hay!

24 Hour Party People'Hallelujah' (Happy Mondays)
I never went to the Hacienda – I’m old but not that old – but it sounded amazing, at least until the gangsters moved in and nobody could dance for machine guns. Mind you, Steve Coogan’s Tony Wilson makes even those bits worth hanging around for in 24 Hour Party People. Watching A Guy Called Alan Partridge dad-dancing to Happy Mondays is worth a frisking for.
Weekender – ‘Pennies From Heaven’ (Kevin’s Tunnel Mix) (Inner City)
One from the new kid on the block, mostly for the because for the bonkers 1990-era dancing (hand-waving, pogoing, grinning, and more pogoing... repeat until Monday), reproduced by a cast of real-life East London clubbers in the shadiest warehouse Empire has even set foot in. And we’ve been to Quasar.

So those are mine. And as much as I think Andrew Lincoln should be ruling a small country by now, Human Traffic doesn’t make the cut. I’m fully expecting to find a yellow smiley head in my bed for that one. What are yours? Share your favourite post-disco dance moments below…

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1 Bobby TwoTimes
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 10:51
Ok so you've pointed out a couple times that there is no 'Human Traffic' on your list.........but would you care to explain why??!

I fully appreciate that this is simply a list of your personal favourite clubbing scenes, but I find it very hard to take your opinion with anything more than a pinch of salt if you can't find a single clubbing scene from 'Human Traffic' to add to your list.

2 Juliette
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 11:11
I've never been much of a one for clubbing anyway, but this is definitely one of those things that depends how old you are. For me, who clubbed most (if at all) around the turn of the millennium (hey, that's kinda cool actually) and usually at parties rather than actul clubs, it was the rendition of Robbie Williams' Angels at the wedding scene in One Day that really brought it all back.

3 guysalisbury
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 12:47
Great clubbing scenes -

Robocop: Leon Nash
Blade: Traci Lords
Blue Juice: The Quarry

Im sure there are tons more but for out :-)

4 murder_minty
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 12:53
Knocked Up, Seth Rogen doing the 'Dice'.

5 inkedbeatnik
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 12:57
I thought the 'furious Angels' sequence in 'Clubbed to Death' was incredible, especially given the deliberately slow build-up.

6 raapruben
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 13:21
Boogie nights :D

7 England4Me
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 14:56
Kevin and Perry Go Large : Pretty much every track
Triple X : The Rammstein Rave
Matrix Revolutions : Club Hel scene - if simply because of the awesome fetish outfits

8 ofthesun
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 15:57
I really don't understand why you've omitted 'Human Traffic'. Yes its got '100%' Danny Dyer in it. But his character is spot on. Regardless of the rest of his career. For me its the most perfect telling of what clubbing is about. The build up to the event. The fear of not making it. And the absolute joy of knowing you were there.
But, I guess its just personal taste.
To add to the list, I have to mention the Spaced 'clubbing' ep. Genius.

9 horribleives
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 17:05
The 'no Human Traffic' thing makes perfect sense. It's fucking shit.

10 albumental
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 17:36
I know it's not a movie but for me the best club scene ever was in series 1 of Spaced if only for it's culmination in Mike leading the throng in a dance routine to a clubbed up version of the A-Team theme tune. Oh and the club was FULL as opposed to the half empty warehouses of people dancing to music that is never played in clubs that feature in most movies (Ahem The Matrix Ahem).

11 kamon994
Posted on Tuesday September 6, 2011, 20:46
Completely agree about spaced brilliant and hilarious

12 guysalisbury
Posted on Wednesday September 7, 2011, 09:21
Does anyone know what the films is in the picture with Jack O'Connell?

13 guysalisbury
Posted on Wednesday September 7, 2011, 09:22
Forget I asked.............. Weekender, obviously. Doh! :-)

14 enemysprout
Posted on Wednesday September 7, 2011, 11:07
I was panning down to see if anyone mentioned that episode of spaced and sure enough.

15 abiggerboat84
Posted on Wednesday September 7, 2011, 12:42
Roxbury - Hadaway

16 TheMogul
Posted on Saturday September 10, 2011, 22:26
I would also like to second (third? fourth?) the suggestion that the clubbing scene in Spaced is the greatest ever filmed (even if for tv rather than cinema)

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