I learnt some sad news today. The Church – a club that only happens on a Sunday during the day – is to close it’s doors for the last time at the end of the month!
What is The Church?
It’s a bit of a strange concept to understand for anyone that hasn’t experienced it. But for those that have been and taken part they will almost certainly have some fond connection with the venue where you get given drinks in multiples of three in a goldfish bag with some water and ice (if you’re lucky)!
To the uninitiated, The Church started in 1979 in a small pub on the Fulham Broadway. In the past 36 years it’s travelled to 11 different venues (we think moving either due to complaints or out growing each venue). It is filled, primarily with antipodean backpackers, a hand full of squaddies back home from service, and loyal “sinners”. Including a 50+ year old primary school teacher who goes almost every weekend and has been doing so since the early days!
I won’t go into the crudeness of it too much but for the purposes of context, it’s a very ‘laddy’ atmosphere. The focus is on entertainment and that comes in the form of drinking, comedy (often with ‘knob jokes’) and an adult performer. – But don’t worry ladies, as the venue has become more popular there is often a male adult performer as well. So you can understand how I can class it as ‘laddy’. “Lads lads lads” – perhaps is a reason it is no more.
Although the majority of my Church days are behind me, I had always thought of going back for
one a couple of last hurrahs!
During my younger years immediately after I had come back from my gap year in Australia I spent a lot of time with my Australian friends that were over here on gap! I made so many friends and The Church often all brought us together.
10 Top Memories The Church
Whether you went planned as a group of friends or not. Chances were that after a couple of Sundays there’d always be someone there that you’d know, that you didn’t plan to see there.
Plus, even the people that you didn’t know were nice. People understood that you move out the way for people where possible.
The Tri Nations boats races were always the most hard fought races. Perhaps bar the odd Navy vs Army ones.
The winning team would win a crate of VB cans for them and their friends.
Yes, sawdust on the floor. It was a little bizarre if it was your first time, but genuinely genius. The policy of the event was “once you’ve finished your drink, put the can on the floor and stamp on it”. Because of this there were constant spillages on the dance floor area so putting sawdust down meant that the floor didn’t get sticky (great for those wearing flip flops).
Whoever was in charge of the music playlist at The Church was a special person. They’d be the classic tunes that you’d come to expect. Every week at midday it would start with Reef – Place Your Hands. What then followed was a mixture of modern and classic rock. I’ve tried to curate the playlist myself from memory however it never sounds as good.
There’s something about the acoustics in that room with beer flowing and sawdust on the floor!
5The Dressing Up
Week and and week out there was usually a theme of some sort. Australia Day was an obvious one, people dressed up in Green and Gold, the more ambitious dressing up as Australian icons like a Kangaroo, or rugby hero George Gregan. Once I went dressed up as Matty John’s alter ego ‘Reg Reagan.
You had to make sure you got up early – which on a Sunday was hard. But on the big weekend people would start queuing from 10am, or even 9.30, despite the venue not actually opening until midday. I’d heard stories of the bouncers getting there to open up and there already being some people in the queue.
You could drink in the queue, (bins were put out especially), so people would wander down Kentish Town highstreet to Iceland or some other small local supermarket to grab a 4 pack of beers to take back and start drinking before you got in.
Bouncers Church Wardens
Not your ordinary bouncers. These guys were – in the most part – massive! One was an internationally acclaimed body builder who was still competing!
They weren’t the kind of guys you wanted to get on the wrong side of. However due to the known awkward tensions between the event and the local Kentish Town community their main role seemed to be public order and community outreach. They were the first people you’d see as you all piled off the Northern Line – they’d be the last people who you waved goodbye to whilst you were on your way to Shepherds Bush. They made sure you crossed the road properly. They made sure you weren’t too loud for the neighbours. Basically they ensured that you weren’t too much of dickhead!
8The Trip Home
The Church would normally finish up at about 4pm on a Sunday afternoon by which time the majority of friends would gather and head on somewhere else.
Our particular chosen place was to Shepherds Bush Walkabout (now, sadly also closed!). It was about a 45-60minute journey to get there, which was a good thing as it allowed people to sober up a little.
After a few more hours we were all knackered and it was time to catch the train home! Still half dressed up in whatever we arrived in, we must have looked a right mess on the Sunday evening train.
But it was all worth it and we’d be back again the next time to live it all again!