Play That Funky Holiday Inn Sex Thing, Blondie!!
70s night! Rock Sizemore, DJ, is long and lean, with legs like Rob Evans’ – but encased in brown crimplene flares. Rock’s hair is also pretty super-model: almost white blonde, to the collar, wavy; and with a zapata mussie to match. As you’d expect, his shirt does not let the rest of his outfit down and we’re not even attempting a description here, without the benefit of psychoactive drugs. We’re on the dancefloor. Of course. As ever. Singing along, camping it up, acting out. Nobody gives a damn, cos folk here are never uptight, too cool, or so insecure they do that sit-and-sneer-at-the-dancefloor thing. If anything, the accomplices for playtime are more unselfconscious – and definitely more varied – than anything else we’ve seen in town outside of Worthing Pier’s very eclectic love-fest that was Bank Holiday Boombox. As the opening strains of Carl Douglas play, there’s a moment’s hesitation as we assess how this feels in 2018: it’s a full-time job wracked with uncertainties to be a white over-50 Brit, parsing out your youth culture. Golliwogs no way, (we definitely don’t want to ‘see you at teatime’); good riddance to those playground chants of “We won the War, in 1944”. (Honestly, young folk have no idea – I hope – of how bloody long WWII lingered in national fantasies of deluded omnipotence). But ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ – those lyrics! – is it OK? Too late for further analysis, as our bodies are overtaken by the momentum of the tune and Mr DJ himself slips out from the booth to join us in some high camp kicking and inauthentic hand gesturing. Soozee behind the bar is dancing, too, and she sends occasional whoop whoops and waves to the floor crew, her plaits jiggling as she rejoices in the moment. Throughout the evening, a guy in a navy shirt and very good jeans is matching us for ‘always on the floor’ dance mania: the music is so demanding, darling – Sugarhill Gang, James Brown, Wild Cherry (of course. We know who we are. We totally get the ironies.) Play that funky holiday inn sex thing, blondie!! Navy-shirt’s friend – natural-looking tan set off by white floral shirt – is giving us a run for our money on the acting-up-o-meter. During a rare bar break (Abba, and no amount of nostalgia nor irony can rescue Abba for me, though I notice that the 20-somethings are singing along joyfully), we chat, our voices raised over a circle of folk doing performative and entertaining banter. Let’s ask floral-shirt if he belongs: “Yes, I do. We’ve got everything we need here in Worthing … and the Downs, I love the Downs”. (I didn’t know who floral-shirt was at this point, making this part of our conversation an example of narrative irony worthy of appearance in an A level English exam). I lived in Arundel for a bit, but what’s there, really? Take away the castle and ….nothing. Navy-shirt friend concurs. “And you can’t buy anything unless it’s a cream tea. You want to buy a light bulb or a sim card for a phone and you’ve got to drive miles”. Amusing guys, friendly company, good dancers, smart dressers – and great answers. Navy-shirt tells me that floral-shirt is Worthing’s ‘Butterfly Guy’ – Neil Hulme. When I google him at 2am I realise that we need to think more about the value of the Downs for many Worthing-ites. This place we call home is much, so much more than the town.