Arts: You have to feel sorry for people who think `Loaded' is a way of life

DICKIE FANTASTIC on the schmooze
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The Raw Club is a horrible hell-hole situated in an underground stairwell somewhere between Level 1 and Level 2 of the NCP car park just next to the YMCA gym on Tottenham Court Road. It is, consequently, a club of many different smells, and could be themed thus, if some clever PR firm were employed to market the ambience of a Urine-Chlorine-Sperm-and- Car-Fumes -Fun-Bar. But they haven't, so all one can do is swallow one's pride and try to get into the alluring grubbiness of it all. Tonight, the club has been booked for the Loaded second birthday party, a night of great celebration as the magazine now outsells, as is well documented, all the world's products. A heady mix of faux-misogynist youngsters who don't really mean it and faux-sexy babes shimmy post-modernly alongside a small smattering of genuinely scary people - skinny boys with rage in their eyes and weapons in their pockets and coarse sub-page 3 girls in spangly dresses.

Loaded people - and, indeed, tonight's clientele - fall into two distinct camps:

1. Those who are intellectually aware of the ironic subtexts of the New Lad movement, and are making a clever and pithy situationist statement about contemporary mores.

2. Those keen to beat the shit out of anyone who looks at them funny.

Unfortunately, I am now being cornered near the toilets by a member of the second category.

"See that bird over there?" says a small man with a pencil moustache. We glance over at a very large blonde girl in a tiny dress. "What do you think?"

"Well," I say, attempting to conceal the fact that I am not very good at this sort of thing. "Well! well! well!"

"What do you mean?" says the boy.

"Well," I say. "That certainly is something."

"That's my girlfriend," he says.

"Well, you're certainly very lucky," I say. "Well done."

"I saw you staring at her," he says. "Don't fucking stare at her."

"Well..." I begin.

"Find your own fucking totty," he says.

"I'm terribly sorry," I say. "You're right. I was staring. Now I feel terrible."

"Need a slap?" says the boy.

"Oh no," I say. "No need at all."

And then, 10 minutes later, I am chatting to a Loaded feature writer who points out the same girl.

"Look at that!" he says. "Where's the dignity of the young? Come on. Let's go over and tell her we'll get her in the magazine if she shows us a good time in the toilets."

"Shhh!" I whisper, severely, glancing feverishly around me. "No. Shhh! She's got a boyfriend. And he's not nice. He wanted to slap me."

"Oh," says the Loaded man, darkly. "Ah. OK."

One has to feel a little sorry for those at the party who don't realise that the whole Loaded thing is a visceral posture, rather than a way of life. The handful of girls in the page 3 dresses look genuinely shocked, genuinely duped, when they arrive to find 300 middle-class boys yelling with amused post-modern wantonness. One Loaded staff member, sadly, is not present, having been admitted into hospital with a complete breakdown, due to overzealous hedonism.

"He thought it was all for real," explains a Loaded sub-editor. "He was actually trying to live the life that we've been pretending to live these last years. It can't be done. And look at him now."