This past weekend was the Cathouse 31st birthday. Seeing the numbers tick up over the years is always strange, especially since I started working there around about the 17th birthday. To compound my seemingly rapidly advancing age, I met a girl who was the daughter of an old colleague… somebody that I haven’t worked with in about ten years. She was 20 years old. Clearly I am ancient.
Anyway, post-lockdown much of the Cathouse has stayed the same, but many things have changed. That kind of gradual shift always happens, but thanks to the pandemic-forced closure, it’s kind of like we’ve jumped forward in time, so the difference is even more apparent. I guess that’s what happens when you have almost two years worth of folk becoming old enough to go to clubs, or moving into the city for University etc. Whatever it is, I always enjoy heading back in to cover shifts there. It’s not quite the same as the heady days of my youth when I’d be stumbling around in a Jack-induced fog for four nights a week – especially since I rarely drink while working now – but there’s a real sense of comfortable camaraderie amongst the long term staff now. It feels like slipping on an old over-sized hoody.
As is traditional for the birthdays, there were a few different special things going on throughout the night. The first was a variety of burlesque performances from Kim Khaos. Rather than using the Canon 5D and 50mm f1.4 as I usually would, I decided to take the Sony A7 with my new Viltrox 23mm f1.4 (APS-C lens, so APS-C mode enabled, with a roughly 35mm equivalent focal length). Since I wasn’t drinking there was less risk of me throwing the camera down the stairs.
I shot without a flash, and they came out quite nicely. It was really weird shooting auto-focus again since I’ve used manual lenses for this kind of thing for so long, and the A7 locked up a couple of times when I was rattling off frames, but it turned out not bad at all. More pictures will end up on the Cathouse Facebook page.
The other notable happening was a guest DJ set from Zoe London. She played a mashup of EDM and rock, which worked really well. I shot a combination of the A7 and the classic 5D for this.
In retrospect I wish I had shot a few more frames with the 5D, as the available light shots with the A7 weren’t quite as good as I would like. Things were a bit manic though, the 5D with flash is much more intrusive, and you always have to strike the balance between getting plenty of pictures and not getting in the way of the performance. As it stands, Zoe was really friendly and easy to work with, which was a refreshing change from the usual kind of dynamic with guest DJs.
Of course, there was also the usual madness.
It is pretty wild to think that I’ve used the same camera setup the whole time I’ve been at the Cathouse; it’s a real testament to the overall quality of the original Canon 5D. It has suffered many years of serious abuse… yet in comparison, the Sony A7 feels like it would smash into pieces if it was dropped. For that reason alone, it’ll be my weapon of choice for club shots for some time. Unfortunately, I’ve had to ditch the battery grip, as it no longer registers any batteries in there. It’s unfortunate, as it adds a really nice heft and stability to the body… but it is the second one of these I’ve had, and both have failed in the same way, so I suspect it is a design flaw, since the camera itself still works flawlessly. A shame really.