Having established itself as an afterparty to an afterhours, Sunday afternoons on the capitals clubbing circuit have only meant one place, one brand & one continual party in recent times and whilst there have been a few pretenders to the crown, there is no doubt that Later has stood the test of time, continuing to find favour with a faithful following that just don’t want their weekend partying to be interrupted with anything else. Indeed, the club has been responsible for some exceptional events in its time, New Years Day 2006 living in our memory more than any other, while in more recent times, its events across to Area have always met with rapturous response, the formula seemingly working like a dream wherever the club lays its hat. So, when we heard that Later would be hitting the high seas, well taking a cruise on the Thames actually, we very much jumped at the prospect, not least that having enjoyed a number of evening excursions by boat, we were keen to see how an afternoon trip would work out.
The inspiration of one of The Orange Group’s newest management team members, Verity Mayes, along with Brazilian boy wonder Mauricio Ortiz, the fact that this “Summer Boat Party” was something a little different to the norm was an enticing prospect by itself, while the expected captivating company was also a major draw, the one thing the team could not predict however, was the famed British summer weather, which dependant on which way it would blow, could spell either a dream or a disaster of a day. That said, with the majority of the boat’s space inside rather than out, even with a blustery & wet day materialising, the organisers were pretty confident that in restricting the numbers to a maximum of 250, that those invited along with ticket holders, would make the trip come rain or shine. Plus with the Sunday afternoon Later branding & bravado the perfect ingredient boating bonanza this looked, on paper at least, as an outstanding outing, but how did our floating foray fair & what were the heavenly highlights?
With arrangements to meet up with fabulous friends Steve Pitron & Celso Moura in motion, we decided to give Beyond a wide berth, rather staying entirely fresh for our Thames trip, a rendezvous to board the good ship Fire at Millbank pier planned for a good half an hour before the planned 2 p.m. sail setting, meaning we were dressed & ready to hit the high seas in plenty of time and with the weather set fair too, all was looking fine & dandy for our river rapture. But with the best laid plans for the timely start shifted by the Thames tide, our transport for this terrific Thames trip a tad late, the seriously developed crowd were in guessing mode as to which boat it would actually be, but as quickly as a Thames clipper floated in & then out again, the familiar flags of Fire gave the game away in an instant as our double decked delight swung round into position ready to board its partying passengers for this spectacular shindig.
By now the queue of Later lovelies had developed right along the pier and with 2 p.m. fast approaching it was clear boarding would take some considerable time, but despite queue management meister Tom Fuller being absent, both Verity & Mauricio were doing as sterling job ticking people off & checking in tickets as quickly as they could. Having been waved through in a jiffy, we soon found ourselves acquainted with our steed for the next few hours, a quick run around both decks seeing us bump into Orange Group supremo Craig Elder who was keen to share lots of news of upcoming parties & events as well savour the full extent of the Later expedition extraordinaire. However, the pressing point was to get everyone boarded, but with the boats docking slot having overrun considerably, it quickly had to make way for an inbound Thames clipper service, this temporarily stranding a few late arrivals on the pier. But in a brilliant gesture by the good ship Fire’s captain in agreement with Craig, we soon returned to pick up the waifs & strays before finally setting sail, the shimmering Sunday sunshine sending many out onto the single upper outside deck, while others, like us, decided inside was a better bet for a while.
With this Later boat party now well underway, it was D.J. Junior Moura that was grabbing most of the attention inside, this Brazilian beaut serving up scores of superb summery sounds to befit the occasion, hits like “Starry Eyed” & “You’ve Got The Love” finding favour with the developing crowd that were also choosing inside for out, the small alfresco deck absolutely rammed with sun worshipers taking in the sights of a London landscape unfolding before their eyes. So, with Steve Pitron & Fat Tony holding court, along with Jonny marsh & boyf Charlie, as well as Verity Meyes, Mauricio Ortiz & a whole host of muscle hunks stripped to their waist, it was difficult for us to resist darting out every now & then, the combination of magnificent music & splendid socialising a captivating cocktail to match the compelling company on this floating Fire foray.
Having taken in most of the city sights, St Pauls, Tower Bridge, Greenwich, The O2, Canary Wharf & back again, we it was back down past the likes of The Southbank, Somerset House, the London Eye & The Houses Of Parliament that we were now savouring on the Later boat party loop, the Fire flags flickering in the breeze while scantily clad go-go’s serving up platters of fruit & other tasty morsels for those not indulging in other flowing refreshments. But with many still packing the outside deck, we laid our hat inside and for good reason as Jamie Head was now in charge of the tunes, serving up a set to savour, a whole host of classic hits remixed & rehashed hitting the mark with many, we finding a spot to spin not far from the makeshift D.J. booth, our dancing dervishes increasing with every track he picked, the dancefloor erupting when the truly brilliant “Enjoy The Ride” played out & seemed so appropriate for the terrific time we were having, this ride on the waves in the hands of Mr Head a huge highlight.
That said, we also enjoyed our escapades out on the sundeck, the delectable Dorin & Kyri were two familiar & friendly faces among a sea of others that also included Ross Patterson & his mini posse, Ben Kaye & Q.X’s Cliff, Steve & Tony in naughty & playful moods & Mikey D never far away, all making for an amazing afternoon afloat, CO2 cannons and no shortage of enchanting eye candy. But as afternoon turned to evening, the sun dropping in the sky & shimmering on the Thames, Jamie’s spectacular set was over all too soon for us, although with, Jonny M played out for the final few minutes before the good ship Fire made its final turn and headed for home, thoughts now focussing on the next party to come, Blessed’s launch about to kick start at Area back in Vauxhall. So, with Millbank pier our docking destination, it was time to swap sea legs for terra firmer feet and reflect on this later boat party brilliance that succeeded on a number of fronts.
Having enjoyed Later in a number of guises across the years, whether on familiar territory at Fire or across at Area, expanding the concept to include a boat party was an inspired move and one that went down a treat, serving to further strengthen a brilliant brand that has very much been on the ascendency for a sizable chunk of the year. And whilst the numbers for this first floating foray were limited to just 250, making it a sell-out, capping the quantity of clubbers proved a masterful move as the boat never felt too overcrowded, rather relaxing & enjoyable, plenty of space to dance & to socialise over the two decks, although it has to be said that the outside space was never going to be big enough, perhaps a consideration for the next excursion which we understand is planned for August bank holiday. As for our highlights, well the music was right up there, both Junior’s & Jamie’s sets superb, both boys’ selections of sounds right on the money, while we couldn’t have asked for better company either, leaving us a mounds of magical memories of this summer Sunday showboat of a shindig to savour. So, hearty congratulations go out to everyone involved and we simply cannot wait for second sailing which, if anything like the first, will be another superb sell-out success. (DISCO MATT)