A definitive list of every single person you’ll meet at afters
Please, I’m begging you: put that guitar away
That trip to Aldi for cans of Red Stripe feels like a long, long time ago. Eons have passed since you were getting ready with the gals, not a single head of hair out of place, sipping some red drink with vodka in it from a Buxton bottle.
You sort of remember pre drinks, arriving at that point where the conversation isn't quite flowing yet – a pained, sober silence sporadically descending over the sound of Drake on your mate’s speaker – and tumbling out of whoever’s flat it is a couple of hours later in a kind of childish drunken frenzy, yammering and shouting as you clamber into taxis.
The club is a bit of a blur: lots of flashing lights, thumping bass and the same hey-how-are-you-oh-em-gee-we-should-hangout-more-often interactions with the same people. Shenanigans in the smoking area, huddling into groups on the floor, shite patter spewing everywhere, gum and cigarettes being passed around in militant fashion.
And then you’re back in a taxi, the friends you made in the smoking area are suddenly your best friends, and you stumble into someone’s living room. There are Che Guevara posters and empty cans everywhere. You’re going to wonder how you got here. You’re going to wonder how of this all started. And, most importantly, you’re going to ask yourself: who are all these people – these seething, powder-hoovering, drink-spilling, balloon-sucking, semi-paralysed figures – in front of me?
Well, I am going to tell you. Here is the comprehensive list of everyone you meet at an afters.
The Unwanted DJ
"Can I plug my phone in? One song… just one song!"
He’s sitting there quietly, anxiously almost, and then, chimplike, crawling his way to the sound system. A moment passes; you briefly forget what’s about to happen. And then the room is engulfed by pulses of static, and everyone looks around in silence, and then, yep, there he is, eyes closed and a singular finger gyrating in the air.
”No, right, wait, wait: you HAVE to listen to this guitar solo, man, it’s so, so good.”
The Guy With The Fucking Acoustic Guitar
Someone’s mentioned Johnny Cash, or perhaps Bob Dylan, and by that point it’s too late.
He’s there in the corner, still wearing his silky scarf, reaching for what you can only imagine is like a sort of substitute for his dick given the affection with which he holds it – playing a few chords, just gently running his hands down the guitar. Did he just whisper something to the guitar? The tension is immense. Some people are still chatting away in the corner. This annoys Mr Guitar, because this is his moment, and you all have to fucking well listen.
Eventually, the room has descended into a silence impregnated by gloomy acceptance. Maybe he’ll play Mr Tamborine Man, or even Ring of Fire. You like those. He’s still giving a bit of decorative chat. “So, yeah, um, I found this great busking place, if you guys fancy coming along tomorrow”. He means today; there is no chance you’re doing anything today.
"Today," he begins. "Is going to be the day that they're going to throw it back to you.”
He looks down to make sure his fingers are on the right chord. A brief pause. Surely he’s joking.
The Guy Who Never Buys Drugs But Who Is Looking For Drugs
Somehow this guy has found his way into your kitchen, and he’s scanning the table in a strange sort of way. “Alright, mate,” he’s saying, wearing just a white t-shirt and black jeans because that’s all he ever seems to wear. “You got any? Any Ganj? Any beak? Any MD? Any Nozzies? Come on, I know you have nozzies.”
He sits there with the rest of us, but his mind is elsewhere – fixated on pure, unapologetic accumulation of whatever substance he can get his nose near. You offer him a concessionary hit from the bong. “Nah, nah, mate, fucked me up this one time, you see”. He snorts half a line of something and lets out a guttural “PHOAARRR, MATE! That’s some good shit. That, mate, is some good, good shit.”
One day, without a single person noticing, he will disappear, and you will never see or hear from him again. No one will ever see him again.
They’ve spent all day together, all of pre drinks together. You didn't even see them at the club because an ex-boyfriend got involved and it all just went a bit sour and they both spent most of the time outside, away from view.
And there’s more of the same to come at afters. Everyone else will be up to some sort of silliness, some kind of nonsense, but not them: you can spot them huddled in the corner, talking half normally and half under their breath, just sort of frittering away in their own private sphere.
The worst part: they always, always get the duvet. This is simply not fair, I’m thinking from the other corner of the room, the cold clasp of a filthy comedown slowly taking hold. Why do they, of all people, deserve the extra warmth. Oh, great, now they're shagging. The Couple are not a good addition to afters.
The Pure Mad Cunt
This guy has been on it since 5PM, holed up in some grotty corner with the boys, putting away industrial amounts of ket, mandy, and anything that could feasibly go up a human nose. Chilli flakes? Why the fuck not.
He was at the club for approximately eight minutes until being forcibly removed for spitting on a fresher, and now he’s at your afters – your nice, happy, communal little session – wearing just his pants and a broom he’s duck taped to his crotch for comic effect. Nobody is laughing. Everybody is on edge – especially after you all do a balloon and he lets out some primal roar right into someone’s face. Somehow, 12 hours on, he is still going hard on the gear, listening to D&B through a singular headphone. How is he alive?
When you finally leave, he’s still there, his face now just a shapeless mass of shuddering muscles, but he’s better than The Couple.
The Deathly Silent Zoot Roller
Conversation is bubbling nicely around the room, the whole thing in full swing, music playing, people lying on each other and laughing about the events of the past few hours, and there he is, practically incognito: the silent killer.
The only thing reminding of you of his presence is the occasional gentle tap of a grinder on the table. This is not a man of many words but, my God, when his full arsenal of equipment is in front of him – several grinders, several bags, raws, amber leaf, half used cigarettes – he is Picasso. He is in the zone, a kind of artistic zen, carefully and quietly constructing a truly gargantuan joint.
The One Who Really Really Wants To Get Some Coke In At, Like, 7AM
Things are starting to wind down. Some have wandered off to bed already. You are also thinking about embarking back out into the real world sooner rather than later.
But there is always one who cannot face it – who will not face it. The idea of returning to their room, alone with their thoughts and the physical effects of the last few hours, is simply too much. We all live in metaphorical cocoons of some kind. Afters is a literal cocoon which takes willpower to remove yourself from.
“Shall we get some more coke in? Anyone? Lets keep this going!” he ventures, looking around the room and being met with plaintive shrugs.
“Come on, mate, look, I’ve got a guy who will pick up.” He’s fumbling at his cracked iPhone, pensively waiting with the phone to his ear. It’s fully light outside now. “Nah, wait, let me try this one instead… has anyone got any numbers for coke? Who fancies a walk and a chat? Anyone?!”
Let it die, man. Let it die.
The Girl Who Always Gets Very Ketty And Talks In Circles With Her Eyes Half Closed
Afters would be incomplete – pointless, even – without this person: glitter and makeup still in place, various words coming out of her mouth that seem to mesh together into one, suspended in a blissful trance of their own making.
Despite their body only managing to function on some basic motor skill level by this point, the whole room listens to every word of their ketty soliloquy – a story that nobody, not even its protagonist, can properly piece together, even after being uttered for a fifth time.
Afters is often a time for saying things that would be met with awkward, empty glares during the week; sometimes it is just nice to speak, to let the words happen, and nobody is better than this – more naturally stream-of-consciousness – than a girl at afters who has just snorted a big line of ketamine.
Everybody else, as we have seen, plays an active role at afters – all serving as constituent parts of a messy whole. A whole host of zany characters.
But then there is one who is, well… different. This person asks for nothing, receives nothing, gives only the occasional platitude – “bit of a mad night, wasn't it?” – and festers in the backwaters of your session.
They are not here to get fucked up; they are not here to make friends; they are not here to create memories. They are simply there to avoid the crushing weight of their own being, to spend just few hours of their week hidden away from the perilous reality of daily life, of slowly but surely forming into an adult and heading down a path which they neither willingly chose or know anything of, just kind of drifting into the most important part of their lives armoured with nothing aside from their toxic adolescent habits and a student loan, straying further and further away from what they knew back home, back when you knew where you stood, and inexorably closer towards a terrifying unknown.
Just for a moment, though, that can all be put to one side. Because afters belongs in another dimension, estranged from the tangent of time as we know it. This person, whilst not outwardly showing it, values – nay, needs – this moment more than anyone else.
This person is me.