In this day & age it is increasingly rare to find a conventional club standing the test of time, let alone one that sits squarely in the fetish market, some of the world’s biggest brands having faded from the capitals clubbing circuit long before passing the seven year itch, meaning that to still be going strong a full eight years in is an awesome achievement and one very much worth celebrating. Mind you, if we were to include its previous incarnation, then the club in question will have actually been in existence for well over twice that time, very much outstripping all of its competitors, let alone plenty of other big brands that are cutting a stride to this day. And having succumbed to its temptations in both its form as FIST and now as Hard On!, as this fetish frolic marks another year in overt operation, we will be once again polishing our boots, sliding into our rubber shorts, buckling our harness and strapping our chaps to help promoter Suzie Kruegar & her tremendous team celebrate their exceptional eight yardstick years.
So how come Hard On! has lasted so well for so long? Well, there of lots of reasons, primarily that the club has probably one of the most faithful followings that we know, many of its regulars using the club in the fullest sense of the word, i.e. a place where people meet, socialise & share common interests. And being a fetish club, we don’t need to tell you what those interests extend to, although given the clubs appeal to those dabbling in the scene as well as seasoned pros, Hard On! by its very nature has developed a broader cross section of followers than it more full on former. But the clubs longevity extends beyond just its faithful following, as, while it may have moved venues on more than one occasion, the basic & winning formula has remained pretty much unchanged, the combination of music, dance & play an irresistible combination for many, us (well cousin Crisco actually) included. Then there is promoter Suzie Kruegar, an individual that commands a huge amount of respect for what she does, both by her peers and by the wider clubbing community, very much cut of what we would term, “old school cloth”, meaning she knows her stuff and how to look after her lot.
So what about the history of Hard On! and where does it find itself celebrating its eight year?, Well, the club was very much a bi-product of the former FIST, a club that ended it’s days at the infamous Imperial gardens in Camberwell, having started life at the iconic Substation South in Brixton, this in itself deluding to that old school cloth that we mentioned just. However, Hard On!, like its promoter, followed the trend at the time, underground clubbing finding favour in the then relatively barren landscape of Vauxhall, a pretty much under-developed spot of London that proved a perfect playing ground for clubbers & followers of things more alternative & fetish, the iconic Crash providing Hard On! with its first home. But its move to Hidden just down the road was to prove a more permanent & long lasting spot for Suzie the layout & the flexibility of the venue much better suited to the clubs formula, although just earlier this year, the more compact yet perfectly formed Factory was Hard On’s! third home and one we have yet to sample, well in fetish form that is.
With the Hard On! history lesson over with, what can you expect from this 8th birthday bash?, Well naturally, the central theme of all things, leather, rubber, boots and the like, along with that classic combination of music, dance & play that the club has become famous for. But for the birthday, Hard On! is stretching (lots of that going on!) the boundaries a bit further, our friends at Fetish Pig explaining it all brilliantly when they say “… it will be one of the biggest fetish parties of the year…” adding that “…sponsored by RoB, Hard On! celebrates 8 years of getting down & dirty and this year we are making it even more pervy…”. And they are not wrong there, as the Hard On! team have planned a special competition, Fetish Pig revealing that “…you may have the talk, now walk the walk and show us just how sleazy you are…” the quest to become Mr Sleazy 2011 earning a prize worth £600 with 2nd & 5rd prizes too. Now, whilst entrant’s requests have been active for a while, we are reliably informed that you can still register for the competition by dropping your details on an e-mail to email@example.com, enclosing a photo with your pervy particulars. And for those that simply choose to watch in awe of the contestants, fear not, as you too will get the chance to scoop a prize or two, as there RoB are sponsoring a free raffle on the door with prizes including leather jeans, t-shirts, aromas & RoB discount gold cards, while Hard On! will be throwing in their own gold card memberships too.
As for the music, well with the Factory format a little smaller than previous home Hidden, there is just one dancefloor, meaning that regular residents Brent Nicholls, Hugo’sland & Halo-is will be sharing disc spinning duties, each of them digging into their archives to bring you a magnificent mix of “…big sleazy beats, uplifting progressive house, fuck me harder grooves (Fetish Pig’s words not ours!) and a selection of Hard On! anthems from over the years, under an array of lasers with one of the best sphincter clenching (what do they mean!?!) sound systems in London…”. And what better way to get acquainted with what will be on offer, music wise, than delving deep into Brent Nicholls’ latest compilation created especially for this birthday bash, Mr Nicholls carefully selecting sixteen tracks (that’s two for each year) that take you on a glorious journey of the clubs musical history and certainly brings many magical memories rushing back to the fore. As Brent explains, “…for those hat may have thought Hard On! may have been all hard & all banging, that depends on what dancefloor you were on, on mine it was dirty, sexy & funky which this podcast sets out to show…”. However, Brent has also strived to represent the full eight years of Hard On!, but admits that “…listening to the mix, I realise one may never really capture the essence of the Hard On! floor with just two tracks a year…” but adds that “the challenge was which tunes would easily define the year, although I did not want them all to be obvious, so I added a few of my own personal favourites…”. And the result is quite amazing, so one definitely for Hard On! fans or otherwise, we having spun around London’s roads to it just this week, but a mix that can be enjoyed pretty much anytime, anywhere (well within reason of course!), so one you should grab at http://djbrentnicholls.com/web/2011/09/04/podcasts-hard-on-8/.
Now to the detail and Hard On!’s 8th birthday takes place this coming Saturday (17th Sept) at Factory in Vauxhall, doors opening at 10 p.m. and the club running through to a planned 5 a.m. finish. The dress code is strict, that means leather, rubber, uniform, skin or just boots, so definitely NO trainers or plain jeans, while Hard On! remains a members only club, membership available by going to http://hardonclub.co.uk, entrance charged at £15 for members & £20 for guests (members can bring up to two guests each). And it’s good to get there early, as they are offering a happy hour (well two actually) between 10 p.m. & midnight, with 2 for 1 on bottles of Becks beer, as Suzie says, “…to get you lubricated…” while the club space provides a cruise balcony, a well equipped play space & sinema, an enclosed smoking area and plenty of sleazy alcoves on top of, as Fetish Pig put it, “…a large anal arena (that’s the dancefloor before you ask) full of an up for it crowd who know what they want & how to get it…”.
So, all in all, this looks like being one of THE birthday parties of the year and we will be there to report on it all, although sadly, due to strict rules of engagement, will be unable to live nibble size review tweet our way through the night, but will be busy enough as it is. So, if you happen to spot us, remember its Crisco, not Disco but do come say hi, making sure that you “Go There! Be There! (CRISCO MATT)