Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Passing Clouds

Passing Clouds is, more than anything (and more than can be said of their Dalston Cola), refreshing. I can’t think of a venue like it – and if you can then a) You’re a better person than me b) Could you show me where it is, please? And c) You should be writing this, not me.

Passing Cloud’s greatest strength is its variety – though at a base level most nights there do tend to involve too much drink and relentless hours of dancing at and around other people (don’t all?). As a man who thinks most clubs are mainly a louder and more annoying form of places where you jostle about next to other people you don’t know – like lifts, or Bank station at rush hour – this would not normally appeal. Passing Clouds, however, seems to be imbued with the spirit of misrule, which somehow makes this all you want to spend your time doing there. If this is not the effect it has on you, then reassess your life-choices – or for god’s sake have a detox and reinvigorate your relationship with serotonin.

I still think that Nirvana are cutting edge and am just as likely to kill any mood by playing Burial as by blaring out Slayer so I am in no way qualified to judge any venue’s selection of music, whether positively or negatively. However, there is something in the atmosphere here that means whatever is chosen is somehow, at that exact moment, the only thing that could possibly make you want to writhe, gyrate and jump around more intensely and for longer than before. A combination of this and the structure, not to mention the decorations, which could have been put together by someone blasted forward in time from the 60s in full flow, conspires to give Passing Clouds a sense of near free-fall fun.

Passing Clouds manages to cause such chaos, that if anarchy was transformed into an evening on the town, it would be here. Recollecting the next day (or a few days later, if it was a particularly big one or you woke up in Bracknell and had to make a confusing journey home), no one story of the night seems the same, and each small group seems to have just missed out on the most obscene aspect of the other’s evening.

It is situated just behind The Haggerston - an excellent choice for a few drinks before venturing into Passing Clouds - off an increasingly less bleak stretch of Kingsland Road. Once you’ve decided to enter into this vortex of a club, you can exclaim - ‘Look the entrance to this club is near where some bins are’, and all of a sudden the entourage you have collected from visiting the other bars on this blog will, almost now jaded, once again bow down to your superior judgement. The best way to demonstrate its combination of variety and chaos 
at this point is by discussing a recent visit. 

Since the ground floor was yet to be opened, we climbed up the stairs to the second. This is at times a pleasant escape from the mayhem downstairs – though I have recently seen someone pirouette through a table. On this occasion, despite being calm it was unnervingly so, and we soon discovered the reason why. We appeared to have stumbled into a rerun of the bleakest entrants to Britain’s Got Talent; witnessing a surreal and disturbing puppet show re-enactment/parody of certain Shakespeare plays. It was the perfect tone to begin an absurd evening.

Aside from the obligatory intense motion, and the occasional burst of reality brought on by a cigarette break, the night soon blended into a stream of mostly unconnected images. One clear thought was however, having seen them casually reclining at the bar, that someone had just decided to bring their albino python on a night out. Apparently this was Missy Fatale and her companion in a burlesque act, which I sadly missed.* I cannot escape from the fact that, having seen this creature, I was genuinely concerned that I would wake up adrift somewhere with my name and other useless details tattoed to the snake – fortunately that was not the case, unless I’m still dreaming.

Despite the clear attraction of this, Passing Clouds is not solely about such nights: is a multi-purpose venue and community project. There have been salsa classes, spoken word events and many more, on a busy and diverse schedule, while on Sundays they hold a regular community kitchen. While these are interesting aspects of the venue and all add to its allure, this is a blog about cool bars to show off with, and not a blog about where to take your difficult vegan friend, so you can understand why I haven’t focussed on them. Now, back to the getting drunk bit...

It can be difficult to get in due to the queues, and it is a bit steeply priced as nights out go. There is also the issue that not everybody will get along with its hippie leanings and laissez-faire attitude. I have also never been to a place where such a high percentage of people never stop smiling, which at the same time as being endearing can also be slightly draining for someone who loves to hate as much as myself.

However, I know that I would rather go here and jostle about with freaks that I can put up with, and join in with, than go to Movida, Mahiki, or another generic trash-heap and pay £5 for some water to be near people I hate, listening to the same music as the last time I went there by mistake.

I’d say I want go to Passing Clouds every weekend, but I know that if I did I would eventually explode.

*Dear Missy Fatale, I’m so sorry if I tried to touch the snake’s head more than once, despite being told not to. I know it was foolish, but he was so creamy and alluring.


Passing Clouds
1 Richmond Road
E8 4AA

020 7241 4889


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