No news is good news, and that's the news. I'm not really sure even now, some three or four weeks after its last night, how much I'm allowed to say or what the plan is, which is a bit why this blog - in which the Lounge featured so centrally - has been so quiet recently... that and just the abominable anger and sadness of how's it all transpired. Anyway here, belatedly, are some stills from that last night, the 26th of June:
Of course we'd already had a last night back in November, with the place stripped and old changing-rooms re-revealed, and the recognition that this wasn't just the Lounge we were saying goodbye to, but the spaces of "Tropicana" and "Amalto Saltone", and that was a nice night with seeing old friends and looking ahead and we knew where we stood. This night was different, of course.
(I don't know what's going on here, but four hours later there was an egg and spoon race.)
And naturally the Shard asked Shunt to "leave the place as they found it", but while we're not short of volunteers, none were found willing to rip out the toilets, the plumbing and the electricity, replant the sawn-off steel or smear shit back onto the walls, so sorry about that.
Two nights ago someone called Hilary came to see "Money". She had programmed what turned out to be the Lounge's penultimate week, and had hung from piercings in her shoulder while singing Verdi, something she can only do once a month but that's not the point, the point is on Friday she lit up as she told me something I had found for myself whenever I came to put on work at the Lounge, but have probably never acknowledged here: that there was nowhere as helpful, as generous, as responsible, as unquestioningly encouraging or as just plain big and playable-in as those vaults, let alone for free.
Hillary told me she had made exactly what she wanted to make there. And everyone had come, and nobody known what to expect. (And then I walked home with a chair on my head.) So all I'm saying is, when I would describe the Lounge in terms of a mini-Edinburgh-Fringe reprogrammed weekly, impressive as that sounds, I actually did it an enormous disservice: it was far easier than that. Art got made there even by accident. Not good art necessarily, of course not, but how are you going to know until you put it in front of strangers?
And there was no flyering, no feedback forms, no mentoring schemes, nothing except anything you wanted. Half a panzer coming through a wall? George would build it. A live seven-foot wide video link to New York above the bar, or the running of a fake lift for your own promenade? Andrea would rig it up and get two volunteers to stand either side with a cue sheet and pneumatic forklift. And on and on. That was the Lounge. Something like one hundred people on that payroll, three of them paid for by the Arts Council. No really, just three. And now what? The Foundry gone this past month too. And East 10. But it's the Eighties Revival, non? "Always be closing."
"Oh well, it keeps you honest!" said an old acquaintance. God I hate poets. Okay then, back to the ghetto. And while fifty per cent of the world's cranes stand idle in Dubai, the Great Work of transforming London from a temperamental network of human-scale cultures into a collection of incredibly large, fucking stupid objects best viewed from twenty storeys high proudly changes up a gear.
P.S. With not quite the numb pang that accompanies the deleting of a dead friend's number from your phone, I have removed the Lounge's video from my homepage and placed it below. It's more of an advert than a tribute I know, but what are you going to do? Oh yeah, you're going to come to the cabaret! Tonight, quick! Here.
The Shunt Lounge