There’s no simple way to explain this. The best thing, I think, is to point you in the direction of this Buzzfeed article, which summarises quite neatly the back story of what happened last night. What it does not do is actually summarise what happened last night, so I’m going to try to break it down piece by piece:
As you’ll see from the Buzzfeed story, it was, in its essence, a Twitter joke that got out of hand. Like, really, really out of hand. It ended up being an actual, real birthday party for Daniel Barker (who is a bona fide Nice Bloke, as far as I know, and for whom, I imagine, the whole thing must have been intensely surreal), held in the basement of a pub near King’s Cross. That doesn’t quite cover it, though. There were clowns. And rebels. And oddly threatening birthday decorations. And a violinist.
Let’s assume you’ve read the article now and you understand that Daniel had been cast in the role of a sadistic, demented despot, obsessed with the constant celebration of his birthday, day after day after day. The rest of us were either his personal clowns, leopards or part of a ragtag resistance effort, determined to end the horror and death in the name of the Lord and Master’s birthday festivities. That, therefore, became the basis of possibly the weirdest costume party I have ever been to. There were party games, music, jelly, sausage rolls, a very energetic dance-off between the clowns and the rebels, and some extreme commitment to the theme. There were even gifts, presented by suppliant clowns and leopards. Plus, y’know, booze.
The takeaway from all this, I think, is that Twitter is truly a strange and powerful beast. It was all organised by the instigator of the joke (Twitter user @frogcroakley, whom I do know in Real Life, but I shan’t name, as I’m not sure he’d want me to. The only reason I’m naming Daniel is that his Twitter handle is his actual name) along with an incredible band of devotees to the cause, and a lot of the attendees in fact only heard about it through social media. It’s certainly an interesting age in which we live that such a thing could be brought about almost entirely by digital word of mouth. There was even a Skype call in the middle of it all to someone who couldn’t be there, and had a stuffed leopard on her wall. More than that, though, everyone was wonderfully enthusiastic, and for all it was an unquestionably odd affair, it was actually quite heartening to see so many like-minded people getting together to have a good, silly time. It did attract a little unwanted attention from a couple of drunken pub goers, but I’m pretty sure that was the extent of it. And, as planned of course, the party put an end to the tyrannical birthday regime.
I also like to imagine the patrons of the pub upstairs had a long, hard think about their lives when they saw a stream of clowns and leopards pouring out of the basement, in various states of disarray later in the evening. Personally, I went as a slightly shit Pierrot (face paint, plus costume cobbled together from things I already owned and fuzzy black pompoms. More things should have fuzzy black pompoms) and I definitely got more than a few funny looks, which I must confess, I enjoyed enormously. I haven’t scared as many passers by since I used to go out in Newcastle dressed as a Goff (which is to say, more like a punk, but that was how Geordies referred to anyone a bit alternative).
A selection of the less rubbish photos I took on my phone will be in an ensuing post.