In retrospect when the council tells the student union to "turn it down", and gives them an approved play list that includes Cliff Richard, it was never going to end well.
So as his final act, before breaking for the more capitalism friendly climes of the new bar over the road, the star DJ put on a show. Mostly it must be said of the big bright and bouncy stuff that was eminently danceable. Then out of nowhere with the flower children still sweating it out on the dancefloor, came the acetic opening stanza of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Things stopped, puzzled glances were exchanged, we got ready for the break, instead, it looped. It did this a few times before anyone really understood what was going on. Then slowly, imperceptibly, the mood changed, and into the midst of the flower children came the wall flowers and other miscreants. The longer it looped the more you began to yearn for the break, people began to rock on their heels, as the Goths filtered onto the floor, and those in bright clothing left. The air grew electric, "When will it happen? When?" and still it looped. It did this for what felt like hours but was probably five minutes, at one point the next stanza boomed into view, people bounced, then stopped, as we went back to the start. It was then as the lights dimmed, that the Goths and the suburban longhairs began to step back.
I danced religiously in University, mostly downstairs, as that was where the bar was, but this was playing out in the wide open space of upstairs, the fringes of the dancefloor filled up with the faceless, it became a demarcation line, you were either in this thing or you were a tourist. The usual hubbub of a night out in the Students union faded, apart from the chords you could hear nothing else. Still it looped.
It became obvious at this point as the tension rose, that those on the dancefloor were "having it" personal space diminished, people began to shake and gesticulate, it would be an overstatement to say that by the time the break came that people were baying for blood, but not by much. I launched ferociously into somebody I'd never seen before, it was like a war zone. Lights strobed, there was fog, heat, noise. You had to make like a Maasai just to know where you were, in the fractured distance, limbs flailed.
Had it not been on a dance floor it would have been an epic brawl.
I have no memory of what came next, I remember pausing for breath, and sharing predatory glances with others that were there, but the rest of the night was a blur of sweat, bruises and loud music. Needlessly to say the police were called, but they couldn't get on the dancefloor either, I think they'd locked the doors, in the end they cut the power. The music stopped and the emergency lighting came on, over the silence you could hear people breathing heavily. We were told to evacuate.
Apart from the endless loop and the longing, the thing I remember most was how the crowd at the floors edge parted as we stepped off, bloodied but unbowed, redwoods amongst brussels sprouts.
It was never the same after that, the heart had gone, but it's moments like that that you live for.