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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August, 2005, 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK
Sad songs say so much
By Alison Freeman
BBC News, London

Leonard and Cliff by M. Tollworthy - Copyright C Hill
Clubbers are offered tea, as well as the usual bar fare of alcohol
Cheese and pickle sandwiches and cups of tea are not what you would usually associate with a night out in a London club.

But then Leonard and Cliff do not really come across as your usual club hosts.

That is because they are in fact the alter-egos of the duo who came up with the latest alternative club night Feeling Gloomy.

It bucks the trend of the traditional night's glitter and glam theme and features songs which have a distinctly miserable feel.

But those looking for a good night out can still get their hands on alcohol from behind the bar at the night's venue, The Albany, in Great Portland Street, central London.

Carl Hill - otherwise known as Cliff - said clubbers were definitely not in for a barrage of Mariah Carey-esque, heart-wrenching whines.

'Powerful music'

"Sad songs can have the reverse affect in that they can actually cheer you up," he said.

"When I came up with the idea for the night I'd been sacked from my job and was at a point in my life when I thought, 'I'm 29 and I don't have a job, I don't have a girlfriend and my prospects don't look very good'.

"I was just lying in my bed one morning and literally couldn't get up and I remember thinking 'what's the point?'.

"Then I heard There's a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths and it goes, 'If a double-decker bus kills the both of us, to die by your side' and it kind of made me laugh, and I knew how powerful music that's seen as depressing can be."

Another song clubbers can expect to hear is Sit Down by James, which I had always thought was an invitation to the inebriated to take the pressure of their slightly swaying legs, but which Carl says is actually all about people suffering from some sort of mental torture.

When a flyer for a club says 'sexy, funky, fun', it's not sexy - it's drunk girls in mini-skirts being sick
Carl Hill
And Wake Up Boo, by the Boo Radleys, which far from being an end-of-the-summer anthem is apparently "about death".

But just when you think the play list sounds like a trip down memory lane for those who were students or Indie kids in the mid 90s, he adds that East 17's Stay Another Day puts in an appearance.

When I suggest that that particular song is just 'slushy stuff' I am told it qualifies because it is about the suicide of the songwriter's brother.

Tom Reynolds, the author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die, which gives an account of what he considers to be the most depressing tunes of all time, says a lot of sad songs get adopted for positive occasions when they are simply not appropriate.

He said: "Because the music is upbeat people don't always understand the words.

Tom Reynolds
Author Tom Reynolds knows how to impress the birds

"REM's To The One I Love has become a bit of a prom anthem here in the States and all the teenagers love it, but if you listen to the words it's a really angry and bitter song.

"Then you have an underground sub-culture of music lovers who just love really depressing music. But who wants to be depressed?"

There is a more serious side to Feeling Gloomy with some of the proceeds going to the Depression Alliance (DA).

Literature is available at The Albany for anyone who really is feeling down and wants to get in touch with the charity which runs a network of self-help groups for people suffering from depression.

Mary Watson from the DA said the nights were a good way of helping people come to terms with depressing feelings.

'Drunk girls'

"We feel the Feeling Gloomy nights will go a long way to raise awareness and reduce stigma amongst young people and will encourage those who feel they may have depression to seek help at an early stage.

"It addresses the subject of depression in a light-hearted way, and give people the chance to express themselves through music and dance. "

Carl also admits that his loss of interest in London's club scene had a hand in his wish to create the antithesis of the more traditional night.

"I just created a night that I would want to go to and for people who maybe have stopped going to clubs because they don't like the music.

"When a flyer for a club says 'sexy, funky, fun', it makes me annoyed. It's not sexy, it's drunk girls in mini-skirts being sick."

Feeling Gloomy is next on at The Albany on 20 August.

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