My mum's absolutely raving mad
Don't leave your old dear at home next time you go clubbing, take her along: she looks more hip than you do, says Katie Sampson
Sunday 24 August 1997
The fact that kids embraced the notion of a DJ-ing mum demonstrates that clubbing mums need not necessarily be of the Ab Fab type. Going clubbing with your old dear can now earn you major Brownie points among your peers, not the chorus of derisory laughter you might once have expected. Nineties clubland, as clubbers bible Mixmag has discovered, holds its older members in high esteem. "When we ran a feature on over-forties clubbers, we threw in a couple of quotes from clubbers slagging them off. In response, we received a deluge of complaint letters from young clubbers defending the over-forties and furious at anyone who criticised them," explains editor Dom Phillips, who, in his early thirties, is old enough to be a parent of a teen himself.
Like Phillips, many clubbing veterans have no intention of hanging up their dancing shoes. Why should they, when remaining on the scene can mean attaining local and even national celebrity status? Lynne West is a celebrated clubbing mum who grew to love clubbing so much that she began promoting her own club night. She got interested while helping her son Richard - aka Mr C of the Shamen, now owner of London Club the End - sell tickets to his raves back in the late Eighties."All the youngsters came to my flat to buy tickets from me and one day I just got sick of staying home and missing out on the fun." She took her sister Ivy with her and the two of them have never looked back.
Anti-drug campaigners might be shocked to learn that Lynne's son, the man who sang the infamous number-one hit "Ebeneezer Goode", gave his mum a stern lecture when he caught her trying an E. "He told me I was not to take any more because they were not going to do me any good," says Lynne. But 19-year-old Polly - a keen clubber since her mother Denise first took her to a club at the age of 13, encouraged her mum to share a pill with her. "When I told my friends that Mum and I both took E and went clubbing together they could hardly believe it. They thought she must be a complete nutter."
But after years of seeing her mum as a frustrated housewife, Polly recognised that clubbing and a drug which was originally used in psychotherapy might have a therapeutic effect. "Rather than getting out of it together, taking an E together brought us really close - everyone presumed we were sisters. I definitely want to go out with her again." But both mother and daughter draw the line at anything stronger - the idea of a mother losing control within a club environment is beyond the pale. "I would never ever do LSD in front of my daughter. God no, that would be dreadful!" Denise exclaims.
Despite the narrowing of the generation gap, few mothers in a club environment lose their maternal instinct altogether. Claire, who with her husband and two kids became well known in clubbing circles as one of "the family", describes her desire to include her children almost in terms of responsible parenting. "I don't want my children to take a route that I can't follow, only to see them get tangled up in something I can't understand," she explains. "But that doesn't mean I now need to compete with my children. I've been open with them because I want them to be able to talk to me." But she still laughs at the double life she leads. "During the week, I'm a mum. No one knows I'm a raver unless I tell them, and they're usually gobsmacked."
Freely admitting that she missed out on her own youth by having children at an early age, she now finds her 27-year-old son Kevin's friends more interesting than her own. Kevin often invites his Mum to his parties, in fact he swells with pride at the very mention of her name. "I'd never be embarrassed of her, she's my mum, big sister and best friend rolled into one and that's the way it should be," he says. "After all, no one knows more about you than your mum." His friends, he says, are envious of their relationship. Many of them left home at an early age because their parents refused to understand or accept any aspect of their world. Its a common reaction from many parents, but the good news is that they can, and occasionally do, change their minds.
When Sophie first took her mum clubbing, the initial prospects didn't look promising. "At the beginning she was a bit wary of the whole experience, trying to behave like a mum and asking me to get the DJ to turn down the music, while complaining about the banging sound." But once Sophie had explained the concept of a club and pointed out how everyone else was enjoying themselves, her mother began to relax and soon caught the clubbing bug, holding her fiftieth birthday party in a club to introduce her friends to the experience.
Bessie Clark had to wait until her seventies to get into clubbing. She was on tour dancing topless with her choreographer son Michael Clark and the legendary party person Leigh Bowery when she was taken to a club. "People are so chatty when I go out clubbing that I forget my age and feel like one of them. I've enjoyed every minute of it and now I bring a friend of mine along and she loves it, too." Having been brought up on waltzes, quicksteps and foxtrots, Bessie admits that club culture and dance styles have changed since her youth. "In today's clubs, people don't dance, they just hobble around, but I still love to join in, just as I love listening to music, whatever the style."
Since her first outing, she has been to clubs all over the world, including one in Rio de Janeiro where her son was asked to judge an erection competition. Instead of feeling shocked, Bessie was amused. She has only one self-conscious thought. "My goodness, if my husband was to look down on me from above, what would he think?" she giggles.
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