Meet Clive Martin, who last year graduated from London Met – one of the country’s worst universities – and is now one of the best British writers for the notorious Vice magazine. Clive came to fame this year in his ‘Big Night Out In…..’ series, where Clive documents his experience on the different weird and wonderful nights out across Britain – from the rich clubs in Chelsea to lads’ nights out in Newcastle to fetish parties in Soho.
His articles are densely packed with incisive references to every corner of British popular culture, and his hilarious candour and cynicism have carved out a place for the 24-year old as one of Britain’s best up-and-coming writers. If you haven’t yet read any of his articles, you’ve a lot to look forward to.
We met in a typically hipster bar in Shoreditch outside the Vice offices last week to discuss his experience of British nightlife.
Cherwell: What was your most memorable night out in Vice’s ‘Big Night Out In….’ series?
Clive Martin: The most visceral experience was when I went on a night out with the self-proclaimed ‘Britain’s biggest lads’ at Newcastle University. I’m still slightly recovering from that night. It was fantasmagoric, just so intense.
You mentioned being fascinated with a distinct lack of drug culture amongst ‘Lads’ groups like those – why do you think that is?
Well these ‘lads’ are guys who did the 11+, they got into private school and since then they’ve been told their whole life that they’re winners. And they see drugs as something that creeps and ‘weirdos’ do, so they seem to treble their own alcohol intake to make up for that. They seem to find the idea of drugs bizarre, alien and metropolitan.
Also I think they see something a little bit gay about drugs – on drugs people lose their inhibitions and start hugging each other and being quite romantic and they can’t really handle that, whereas on alcohol you can rage all night long. On the other hand most of them will probably go and get jobs in the city and become roaring cokeheads.
Do you think Britain really enjoys their experiences on nights out?
We do enjoy our nights out but I think people feel obliged to enjoy them, so you see people trying really, really hard to enjoy themselves, really forcing themselves to have a positive experience. Whereas in London when people go out and it’s shit, people will realise it’s shit and you’ll get people sitting in bars being miserable.
I’ve got a theory that you never hear anyone ‘Woo!’-ing or ‘woop-ing’ if they’re actually having fun – it’s just a fake sound. You go to places like Newcastle and it’s full of girls doing that and screaming “We’re having such a great time!”
You’ve described a lot of student nights out as full of people “doing their best impressions of having fun”…..
When you look at university culture, outside of Oxbridge, and perhaps trendy Brighton where children of rich hippies go, every university scene is essentially the same. From the good ones like Bristol to the bottom of the barrel ones like Sunderland, it’s completely homogenous, a completely uniform experience.
And the same goes for the people dancing?
Dancing should simply be a natural reaction to a good tune, but you go to so many clubs and it’s a mix of disingenuous dancing, and slightly ironic, slightly pretending to be more out there than you actually are.
You’ll ask people for a photo and they’ll have looked quite normal and then in front of the camera they’ll flail their arms out as if they’ve been downing bottles of tequila all night, trying their hardest to make themselves look shit-faced
Is Britain good at dancing?
Certainly not Caucasian, high-street Britain.
Were there any big influences on your ‘Big Night Out In…’ series?
The Streets’ first album Original Pirate Material is one of the best documents of British existence even though it’s ten years old.
Is British nightlife friendly in general?
In general yes but everywhere you get pockets of aggression. The general vibe is friendly, people together trying to have fun, get drunk, get laid. Shows like Boozed Britain where people are puking up in ambulances and glassing each other aren’t representative really.
As a writer for Vice, the cult following it has seems to be balanced by the constant supply of haters and indignant, offended readers. Do you enjoy recognition from readers or do you thrive on the haters?
People saying an article is really good is nice but with Vice articles, there will always be people who hate on it and nit-pick. There always seems to be someone saying “you need to come down where I come from and I’ll teach you”. The editors of Vice certainly enjoy seeing people get wound-up by our work.
Are you pessimistic about the future of youth culture?
I’m pessimistic about the future because young people have no music of their own. I remember dubstep when I was young and it first came out with the likes of Digital Mystikz and Skream in Croydon, and nothing’s changed, young people are just listening to a watered-down version of it.
As well as the lack of music, teenagers seem soft and don’t seem to cause any trouble. They’re not going to be able to cope with the world. When I was a kid we were into terrible stuff – new metal, BB guns and I don’t see that from them – they just want to take pictures of themselves and comb their hair.