When I first started going to London it was on a teen tour over the summer in which we were escorted around by supposed adults who showed us what you’re supposed to see and made sure we didn’t get lost or in too much trouble since we were only 16-18 years old.
I was already a Metalhead so on one of the days off, I went on my own to find Shades. Back then you got an “A to Z” (pronounced A to Zed since it’s English) which was a book with a map of the city. It’s how you found places before GPS.
I set off with my A to Z to what I’d later find out was an alley in SoHo and ended up in this mythical place which was a tiny room in a basement in an alley you could totally have missed if you weren’t looking for it.
Inside was Heavy Metal.
One whole store devoted to Heavy Metal. I’d never seen such a thing in my life. With records on display that I’d only ever heard about. I’d found the promised land.
Little did I know how many pubs and clubs and gigs there were for me to find as well, and how many other trips back and forth I’d make. As a Tour Leader escorting other teenagers around.
My tours went like this, “Take a picture of that. It’s famous.” and then I’d take the ones who wanted to go somewhere cool with me on the days off.
Eventually, once I became part of the scene.. which FYI we *never* called “The Scene” back then or ever…. It was cheaper for me to come over for visits and *not* work since the cost was pretty much all in the flight over once I had friends. That tour company charged me for housing and tours. On my own I could sleep all day and party all night cheaper.
So i did that for years.
The last time I went to Shades I remember I’d just come over and I went out clubbing without much sleep and woke up in the morning with both my knees swollen and in pain.
I remember meeting my old friend/former boyfriend/soulmate/playmate/etc somewhere in the area to go down there and look through the records real quick and then go for a drink where we met some other people.
I dont think we were doing anything but hanging around cause it was Saturday afternoon.
I didnt know then yet that I’d have lifelong further problems with my knees, but at least I know what to do for them now.
Its sort of fitting that I’ve got this one day in my memory where sort of paid my last respects to Shades before they closed when I’d just started to have what would become lifelong knee problems that marks when I started aging.
I still try not to do much aging but it happens.