maxilla's lotte andersen talks about her enduringly popular west london parties

Ever since she was little, Lotte Andersen has been tearing up the rule book and carving out her own path in life. Mentored by the legendary John Pearse, the 60s sartorialist who pioneered the London youthquake, Lotte discovered she had an affinity with...

by Lotte Andersen
13 November 2015, 6:45pm

"Clubbing, parties and nightlife remain the happiest accident in my life to date. As far as I'm concerned, I'm far too neurotic to be have made the choice myself. I was brought up in a flat just near Portobello Road. My mum and dad were young parents and the doorbell was constantly ringing. My sister Nancy and I simply had to fit in with the flurry of people rolling through. Their lives taught us that good parties have nothing to do with status or glamour; it's about a good vibe.

MAXILLA got its name from Maxilla Social Club, a working men's club under the Westway, just off Ladbroke Grove. Five years ago, about 12 of my oldest mates put money into a pot and threw the best Christmas party I've ever been to. A year later, another friend suggested I check out the Portuguese working men's club, a restaurant backing on to the train tracks behind Westbourne Park station.

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I guess the thing that people like about MAXILLA is that it's not a regular club night. It pops up whenever it feels like we all need to get together. Terrified of having to replicate the Jubilee party or the first Christmas party, it occurred to me that if I gave MAXILLA something to "do", each party could be slightly different. "MAXILLA does KISSING and LOVING" went down very well. My favourite party ever was "MAXILLA does the Total Bitch Club/ Family portrait". We've had a go at lots of things: posters, massive dinners, kissing booths, portraits in the chicken shed, clothes. The most recent party was "MAXILLA does the General Erection"! We held it on the last day you could sign up to vote. I printed the party manifestos hung them off the bar, making our own propaganda posters.

I am most proud of the massive archive of posters we have made. I've always been keen on the idea that I wanted to party to have a clearly identifiable look and tone. The posters that cover the walls are different every time, and the masking tape, black and white photocopy thing happened because it was a cheap way of making a big impact.

It never occurred to me that to do a party as a girl was any different to being a boy until I was seven parties in. I still had to re-iterate it to the bouncers and predominantly male bar staff that in a few hours there would be hundreds of punters swaying about and - believe it or not - I was responsible. It wasn't an ego thing; it was more like, "When I shout you listen." Parties can be tough and it's useful if you're a right bossy boots that can turn the charm on when needs be. 200 drunk punters can turn from YES to NO terrifyingly fast.

As far as I'm concerned, good parties are made by the women. If they're not enjoying it, no one is. I can't stand the standard line up of awkward dudes, stood next to the DJ booth heads bobbing in that, "yeah yeah man yeah, you know that b-side from 1972 that was re released on x y z record label… you know like…real music." It's like, loosen up it's a party stop being so serious!

The music at MAXILLA is simply fun. I am interested in creating an environment where people want to loosen up, feel at ease and be themselves. Also everyone is welcome; all ages. Come in, catch up with your mates, have a drink, have a dance, have a kiss, smoke a fag. The thing about partying is you've got to commit. In 2015 to get a person up and away from watching a party online is the objective! Get off your sofa; come see your mates IRL!

The wall you hit if you're doing parties in London is venues. I used to have grand ideas to make MAXILLA into this travelling party that appeared all over the place. I love the idea of replicating all of our first experiences of going out in London. There used to be variety of strange un-tapped venues: a loft here, or a basement there. Sadly it seems as the value of the property quadruples in London, these overlooked spaces are the first to be picked up by developers.

Lusting over a memory for a London that doesn't exist is super dangerous and something I must admit I do all the time! It's hard to shake hearing about my mum and dad's London, during the birth of i-D, The Face or Buffalo. Constantly being brought up amongst people who spent their lives in clubs like Taboo, The St Moritz, the Blitz, The Mudd Club and the Titanic, it seems natural that I wanted to create something for us.

Right now the vibe in London feels pretty raw. It's being cleaned up, it's uncomfortable, and the experience of the city is expensive. In its essence, MAXILLA is DIY. Objectively it's just a party in a Portuguese restaurant, but it says a lot that the action of celebration feels reactionary. The language surrounding it is "fuck up, figure it out and fall in love". To me it always feels a world away from what I always saw to be cool parties in east London or the fancy hotel clubs that have monopolised people interests most recently. At MAXILLA I want you to leave your shit at the door, come in, have a laugh, be present.

London needs parties now more than ever. We've got nowhere to live; the price of education is crazy. As far as I'm concerned, the youth are given very few incentives to be here. London has become quite serious. As a generation, it sometimes feels as if a lot of responsibility has been thrust on our shoulders, responsibility to pull a country out of a recession that we didn't create.

We deserve a dance and snog. So come to MAXILLA ;)"


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lotte andersen