TALIA RICHARD-CARVAJAL: ‘Possessed with the Spirit of Jazz’s cooler brother, the Ghost of Groove, the floor was a mass of Cheshire Cat grins and flailing limbs’.
Thursday 24th, The Junction, £5
Doors opened at 10, but the space remained awkwardly empty until about 11.30. When it did get going however, the Junction heaved with all the power of electro swing jazz behind it.
The DJs judged the crowd well. They started with a run of modern remixes of ’50s classics with Amy’s Valerie being the only truly modern guest appearance. Possessed with the Spirit of Jazz’s cooler brother, the Ghost of Groove, the floor was a mass of Cheshire cat grins and flailing limbs. The mood encouraged a level of catharsis that I, at least, have never managed to reach on more routine Cambridge club nights.
At a stretch, it could be said that the room was abuzz with a sense of optimism and naivety that made even the resident, dark-corner couples seem more The Notebook and less Talk to Frank billboard. I often suspect that the dark lighting is a necessity rather than an aesthetic choice in most clubs, but this night proved an exception. The crowd could have tapped, swung, and shimmied with the same level of enthusiasm and disregard for their dignity during daylight hours.
The Junction, however, was not the right venue. With a maximum capacity of 900, the venue was never going to foster the intimate feel that the night needed. The painted black brick interior usually offers a ‘scene’ vibe for gigs, but felt sterile as a backdrop to the sonorous tones of the Big Bopper. The dance space was packed and the bar over-crowded so unless you were willing to stand outside in the smoking area (informally, and worryingly, known as ‘The Cage’) there were not really any great places to stop for conversation.
One reveller wailed as he threw himself into a frenzied Charleston: ‘I refuse to ingest any alcohol, I just love this music so fucking much’, which was a good thing as the Junction’s stiff drink prices, a bottle of Beck’s was £3.35, meant no one could really afford to drink much.
The night took on more of an ’80s vibe as it saw its way into the early hours. The fact that on following Madness with The Clash, there were multiple exclamations of: ‘But, of course!’ suggested that the night might have attracted a fairly niche audience.
There was also certainly the sense, much like the ArcSoc parties, that everyone knew everybody. In the cloakroom queue, I overheard one guy say: ‘I hate this type of music, I never know what to do with my limbs. Life anyone?’ So if you haven’t got a sense of rhythm, Itchy Feet was not for you. Otherwise, it was an exciting evening for a much depraved social scene that would like to see more of the same.