I ended up at 7am on Sunday in a grimy King's Cross warehouse, slumped on a sofa. It was just like one of the early Eighties pay-parties thrown by Phil and his erstwhile partner, Rob. Long before rave and all-night dance licences, hardcore clubbers would score some speed and head east on Saturday nights in search of secretive, spartan, illegal 'Dirtbox' parties. The lighting was poxy, sound system diabolical, decor nonexistent. The only drinks on sale were cans of warm Holsten. But you could dance, booze and pull all night. Ah, such simple pleasures]
Feeling somewhat time-warped, I was about to leave when the music stopped. A very tall, sinister figure leapt on to a flight case, clutching a microphone. He wore a black nylon bomber jacket, faded Levis and commando boots. Cropped sideburns crept out from under his black bowler hat: very Clockwork Orange. 'Hello,' he shouted at the blank faces looking up at him. 'Wake up you (expletive deleted). Time for a bit of light entertainment.' Without further ado, Phil Dirtbox - for it was he - burst into a full-throated karaoke rendition of 'New York, New York'. His equally legendary girlfriend, Debbie Sim, ran around cackling as she trained a spotlight on his high-kick routine, her breasts bobbing in and out of a flimsy, crumpled, pink silk dress, worn over silver trainers.
As he leapt into the cheering crowd I reached up, pulled his head down to my level and kissed him on both cheeks. A risky thing to do - Phil is not a very kissy bloke; at 6ft 6in he exudes the macho nonchalance of a 'diamond geezer' - but it got his attention. 'Oh, Alix, sorry mate. Call us tomorrow and we'll definitely sort it out. Definitely.'
I was still calling a week later. Finally, I got Debbie. 'He's still in bed,' she said. It was 11.30. She promised to have him upright, dressed and ready to talk by 3pm at Bohemia, the Mayfair venue for Someone's Yearning. She couldn't guarantee his personal freshness, she said, because they'd had their fish in the bath ever since the tank shattered seven months ago.
It was too good to be true. 'I'm sorry, darling,' said Debbie at 3.20pm, opening a bottle of Beck's. 'You know what he's like. He hasn't any friends left because he never calls anyone back.' Phil was still 'at the printers' (i e, drinking and playing pool at the Duke of York, 'his daytime job'). I realised it didn't matter: Debbie would make better copy anyway. After all, she books the shambolic acts that make Someone's Yearning an exhilarating event. Acts such as Gertrude Shilling, the 86- year-old mother of a famed milliner son, carried onstage by skinheads to sing Noel Coward songs to adoring twenty-somethings.
Then there was the catwalk show by Sign of The Times, fashion mecca for Babes With Attitude. A micro-skirted BWA jumped up wielding a five-foot lollipop, planted her legs wide apart, stuck the pole between them and tongued her lolly shamelessly. To say that the crowd went bananas would be an understatement.
Even a bad act, said Debbie, is better than none. 'A bit of audience participation never goes amiss, even if it's booing. So what if there's a gap between records? I like it when people jeer and start shouting 'Hang the DJ'. A bit of disorientation keeps everyone on their toes.' Why had she chosen stylist Al Berlin to DJ even though he was a complete novice? 'If he doesn't like a record he'll throw it over his shoulder.'
But the key to the club's delirious atmosphere is its post-feminist female clientele. 'I don't mind a few builders' cracks and a few fairies, and I like a broad age range, but girls make the club, definitely. They're real hardy, they dress outrageously, drink like men, and they're absolutely gorgeous. I don't like pussy girls who drink Evian and get early nights, who won't participate, who hang around like beautiful lupins.' My thoughts precisely, I told her.
But would she and Phil continue to organise nightclub chaos indefinitely? 'I want to return to making sculpture,' said Debbie, who has a degree in theatre design. Her ambition, she said, is to make a living sculpture garden using willow and roses. 'I used the same technique to make a living sculpture of Phil once. It was called 'You're Beautiful But You Do Nothing'.'
Someone's Yearning is every Saturday night at Bohemia, Apple Tree Yard, W1 (071-839 5757), 10pm-3am.Reuse content