London

How it feels to watch your youth crumble before your eyes

James Bird goes deep undercover at Koko's replacement for the rite-of-passage Club NME nights

How it feels to watch your youth crumble before your eyes

Club NME is no more. Kaput. Finito. Institution over after 12 years of service. It's a mini-tragedy because we all went intermittently, dolled up in Next Directory polo shirts, to worship electropop and indie made by privileged white kids from Balham. But the torch has passed: the good ship to Albion sunk years ago.

And with the death of Club NME we are now officially old – old like our fathers, only good for pootling round Homebase and looking after everyone's cinema tickets. That's OK – it had to happen. But curiosity rages: what is the next generation like? Did we all play air guitar to The Wombats in vain?!

To replace Club NME, Koko has dreamt up BURST – an evening of hip-hop, trap and "Future Beats". A place where you can get three "Dizzybombs" for £12. Where they "get your HIPS SHAKING and the dancefloor aching". All the capital letters, all the mild sass. This does not feel relevant to my interests.

The queue is very long because this is still a Friday night in Camden. But noticeably absent are straggly haired kids with ripped flannel shirts and winklepickers. They've been succeeded by Palace hoodies and Nike Air Max 95s. Heroin chic is gone too – these lads are massive. The only substance they use is diced chicken.

There's a right old spirit on the dancefloor. None of the timidity or affected reluctance I remember – the kids are going for it. Lorenzo, from Milan, is one of them. He's never heard of "MNE" but he lives just down the road in a nice flat by Regents Park. He's excited because "two Jagerbombs for a tenner is nice". "They're awful," I remark, starting to like my role as a cynical observer. "But have all the fun."

Good music does not live here. The DJ skips from bad Beyonce remixes to worse Chris Brown mash-ups, and then for the last two hours of the night (I may have huffed a Jagerbomb for nostalgia’s sake – big up Lorenzo) it's Capital FM dance-music versions of sh*t pop songs. There isn’t even any Migos, the one moment I might have joined in with the dabbing.

It makes me feel very old for hating on it but it I can't comprehend how people are having fun. And they're having loads of fun. Agitated, incessant fun. Something more visceral than the self-aware semi-fun I remember. I don't feel it at the time, but it's heartening, I guess. Or maybe they're all too buzzed off diced chicken to have real opinions.

The positive is that it's so different to Club NME: The Glory Years and so alien to my interests that it's impossible to feel any sadness about fading youth. The unfamiliarity prevents the creep of nostalgia. This generation's takeover has been painless. Let them BURST.

When it's over I slip into my Uber still riding the Red Bull rush, sync up Spotify and put some Long Blondes on. Fantastic.

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