Boys and girls go out to play:BRIXTON

From the Tyne to the Thames, they're getting ready for the weekend in their own special way. For rich and poor, black and white, lads and lasses, ladies and gentlemen, the fun starts here ...
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The Independent Culture
Muffled music throbs from the tinted windows of a Golf GTi as it screeches to a halt by the traffic lights outside Brixton tube. Behind the car, the gleaming clockface of Lambeth Town Hall's neoclassical tower gazes on a hotchpotch of redbrick buildings on Brixton Road. The clock strikes: l0pm.

A police siren wails. Go. The GTi whizzes towards Stockwell. Other cars race past the clamped shutters of general stores, shoe shops, Woolies. The 7 Eleven is doing a roaring trade.

People walk speedily along. A bible-basher's loudspeaker crackles. One man swigs from a beer can and scoffs at the sermon. "No man, no," the man says - he doesn't want to talk about what's hot tonight. "Keep on walkin'," he snarls, flashing a gold tooth. A sudden breeze flaps the buggy shirt dropped over his tent-like shorts.

"Psst ...," he hisses, but three women walk on, unfazed. "We come round here a lot on Fridays," says one, Lavada, 21, a computer trainer. She stretches out a leg encased in a knee-length black boot. "What do we like girls? Soul, Swing and Hip-Hop, a bit of Jungle."

Three gay white guys, cropped hair and skin-tight jeans, tumble out of the Tube and pause outside 7 Eleven. They've been boozing in a West End pub. Now they are heading for the Fridge. "Fridays is Club Alien," says one in a white vest. "Bop-till-we-drop, 5am. Byee ..."

Cars cruise by, checking out the night spots. It's gone 11. In a sidestreet, three homeboys perch on a wall. Mark whips off dark glasses, strokes his stubble. "Friday night's OK but it's all about image," he drawls. "It's OK if you've got the money."

"We make our own style, do our own thing," adds Steve. Heels click briskly, perfume wafts in the air.

"I just want to have a couple of drinks, chill out and then go home - alone," a woman in a drop-dead black dress and stillettos whines. "Ladies, ladies," a deep voice implores. "Don't be like that ... Come back."

Escorts and GTis cram the road outside the Brixton Brasserie, the "in" place.Drinkers have spilt on to the pavement. "I try to stay away but the sexual tension draws me back," Jackie, a white face in the crowd, says. "Can't you feel it?"

Midnight nears. Tullia, 20, and friends stand at a bus stop. "A good Friday night is hanging out till 12 in a bar. Go home, shower, go to a club. Then the same on Monday night ..."

"We don't take our guys out with us because there are too many nice ones out," she laughs. "Not that we are looking for any, it's just more relaxed that way ... Oh my bus, there is my bus!" Midnight.

Raymond Mgadzah