Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Tale's of the Night part 1.... by Shaun Dangerfield.
Around the country and worldwide we will all know of a certain club to go to that is literally littered with wrongness.
Some are mild in comparison to other's but at time's Subway City in Birmingham was right up there with the best of the worst of them.
A dirty, sweaty, horrible den that served it's purpose on many an occasion and a place that opened my eye's a little wider than they already were (quite literally) and this is all the good point's of the joint.
I will never forget the face's of newcomers so obviously fresh to it standing in the queue paying their £10 for the first time and watching them walk in and I would just keep a trailing eye on them for a little bit while their face fully describes what they are witnessing and feeling inside. Some night's you could see it was pure horror and revealed their "little bit green" personalities, other night's and when the music was as good as it could be you could tell people were hooked, hooked on the club and the type of people that frequented the legendary local hole.
Once your eye's fix firmly on the city's BT tower close by you would get a slight buzz not knowing what time you would be coming out or in what state or with who, it was extremely moody at time's but still enchanting, if you were out for an all nighter then you knew you were in good hand's.
Don't get me wrong there will be plenty of clubber's from Brum who if they read this would think "what the fuck's this guy on it was a hell hole" and in one sense they would be right.
Nestled snugly underneath Birmingham's snow hill station in the arches the club look's exactly what it is. Walking up through Water Street and under the arches and catching the first sight of who was going to be in there that night, there were hundred's of different type's of clubber that went there.
It was predominantly a gay club but over time I would say it was a very mixed crowd in there, every Saturday night it would be full of Rudeboy's, Foootball casuals & hooligan's, Transvestite's, Gangster's and Gang's/group's, ravers, drug addict's who had somewhere to go for a long haul, Local nutters, Gay's, you name it and they would be in there at some point. Not being completely green I had heard of some Football casuals being gay but never really thought about it much until Subway confirmed it as a fact.
When I first started going there it was with mostly Football lads from the Albion and some other mate's roped in for good measure, our group again was very much a mixed bag of personalities.
There are a few room's there but only 3 that really cut it, as you walked in and paid there was a gang way where people would congregate and a bar and cloakroom with some stairs just on the right hand side that led up to a cafe (I have no idea what the point to this was, it sold pop, toast and poppers).
When you go through to the main room this area was mainly hard house (I hated it) and was full of slappers, ravers & gang's but the strangest thing about about this room was that it was full of Chinese fella's all off their barnet's on whatever they were taking. We have stood in there before and watched them go hell for leather and literally collapse and pass out and then further watched as they are moved to the side and left there while the other's carry on, some of these chap's were in their 40's so while most 40 something's are cutting out health hazards these are running round one of Britain's biggest health hazards.
Upstairs was mainly a place where Birmingham's young gang's would mingle and there was still a heavy gay crowd up there, I never went in that room as much like the main room it didn't hold much for me music wise playing House, Pop and whatever they felt like up there, it was just a constant over powering smell of poppers and an atmosphere you could cut with a knife, when something happened up there if it was something serious the light's were cut throughout the club and the music stopped while all security went in there. I've known there be stabbing's and attempted rape go on up there, just a different side of life.
The place that I loved though was the back room and the adjoining chill out room, so many good time's in there and the thing with Subway was (and still is) the fact that it opened at 9:30pm and didn't kick out until 10am and sometime's longer, especially on bank holidays.
You could land there early door's which we did at time's and have a full 12 hours in there, one of the first time's I made it over I walked into the back room and it was rammed full of people, they were playing bassline, electro and vocal house. I walked over where I saw a few girl's from West Brom who I knew and the place was literally taking off, it's a really low ceiling in there so it almost felt as though the club was coming in, there were a group of girls standing on the seat's and tapping an empty steel can with a stick to the rhythm of the beat it was almost carnival like but with this amazing electronic edge and an attitude that you could eat in mouthfull's with a big raving spoon, it was the hottest club I had ever been in there was no air and with everyone completely off it and jacking around the heat was unbearable at time's but you just couldn't move and was eventually part of it in your own bath of sweat.
I have photos of some of my lot with completely wet t shirts and hair stuck firmly to their heads but it wouldn't be fair to put those photo's up, even if they do say a thousand words.
This probably wouldn't appeal to most people but it had to be sampled to be appreciated.
The chill out room where I'm pictured above was weird, the wall's were full of graffiti (and not the good kind might I add) it was basically just in black marker pen and nobody could be arsed to clean it off, Saul my Sinister co-writer (bearing in mind he's from Newport and this is the heart of Brum) walked in there with me one night and we sat down for a breather and spotted this little piece wrote on the wall "You know that shit's Newport" much to our enjoyment, it was written right under another piece that said "I'm going to punch you.... I'm going to punch right in the ovaries" a famous line from the Anchorman movie, we sat there and read the whole of the rest of the section and literally cried with laughter.
I've met some good mates in here most notably some of Walsall's finest and spent many a great night with them in here. I think it will always hold a special place for me and when I think back at some of the disgusting session's we had in there I shudder and wonder how we actually walked out of there.
Subway City had it's own paramedic and he would look after those who had hit it too hard. I've saw people stretchered out and others go off in an ambulance. A night I always laugh at when there were roughly 30 of us in there and people were leaving via the fire exit's as it was just mayhem in there and people couldn't handle it, I'll always remember Bolton's line for this on the night....
"In every session there is a casualty but tonight there's several".
There are time's that I saw as personal downers with some of the thing's that went on in there and walking in on a lad by the toilets through the chill out room with a needle stuck in his arm wasn't great to see when your out on it, I mean there's time's and places and there was an element that started to go there purely to get out of their skull and stay in there until 10am, for something as anti social as heroin it almost made it social and the club went down one way unfortunately and slowly but surely pushed proper clubbers out in my opinion leaving the best of the worst people in there and in time the music faded away with it.
We turned out there one night and we were walking down from the dual carriageway to start an early one, as we walked slowly down we noticed a few odd characters hanging around clearly old bill in plain clothes confirmed as one turned to us and had an earpiece in, right fair enough and in we went to the club.
We paid and walked through where 3 or 4 officers were taking off their flak jackets and putting normal jumpers on and we watched them mingle into the club being directed by other officers who were going into hidden room's, it was weird to see and as we were some of the first one's in there and saw it all unraveling it was just too uncomfortable to be around but nothing you could do.
We were not quite sure what was happening or how big it was going to be so we cut our losses and taxi'd ourselves back to put on a house party, you just never knew what to expect when you went there.
This side of Subway would never be shaken off and it was a part of the edge of the club, you could have a break from an amazing night going off and head up to the wrong room and witness something a bit out of the norm', chilling out in the cafe I watched a whole scene unravel on the next table as some lone cockney fella was threatening to bring his shooter in from his car outside and some local boy's seeing how far this was going to go. I sat there on my own unwinding, feet on the table and watched them file outside via the fire exit and not come back up, I thought about it for a minute or 2 and then went down to the back room.
In term's of memories Saul's face the first time I took him there will be with me until the day I kick it.
And during a very heavy night one of the boy's I knocked around with in there got himself into a hell of a pickle and literally just landed into his own world, I would sit there and watch him talking to his shoulder with his eyes firmly shut, laughing while talking to himself and I went over and asked him who he was talking to ?
"The little green man" he answered and further on I sat next to him and listened to his whole conversation with the little green man before he jumped off his seat and literally skipped his way around the room dancing with his hallucination with a grin on him just short of a Cheshire cat, we went home that morning and as we pulled away I could see a part of him was lost that night.
A sight I'll never forget was a fella who I think had overdone it a little and couldn't work out where he was or what room he was in and was pant's and denim down taking a dump in the corner of the chill out room much to the disbelief of everyone in there, I don't think I'll forget in a hurry him being carried out with his pants still around his ankles giving everyone a smile and the "thumbs up".
On another night a group of us went up there last minute to end the weekend. One of our lads was on one and perkier than usual and at around 5 in the morning I walked into the chill out room and saw this girl with leather high heeled boots on that went up to her thigh's walking up and down his spine as he lay face down on the floor, people were just milling about nobody batting an eyelid, I wish I had taken a photo but you just never think at the time, he got married a couple of week's ago it would have been the perfect wedding present.
There are literally hundred's of stories from night's here and I wish I could share them but some thing's are best left locked, and also if you've not already switched off you soon would have.
It is still going but I know it's had major changes and is now only a shadow of Birmingham, I've not returned now for a few years and I know I never would but it was a part of my clubbing history.
Here's to the Subway memories.