DRIFT THIS! GOING UNDERGROUND WITH LONDON’S FAST & FEROCIOUS NIGHTKID’S
It takes a lot to possess a person to venture out on a Saturday with a hangover in sideways rain, to Neasden of all places, then ultimately wind up on the top floor of a multi-storey carpark…a fucking lot. That lot on this occasion was my first run in and opportunity checking out 200 or so tricked out bikes and supercars, while listening to pulsating dancehall pumping out of giant customised sound systems with a group of Fast n Furious loving speed demons.
I don’t know if it’s my longtime …not so secret… devotion of the film franchise that possessed me to want to go so bad, or something deeply imbedded in my psyche as a teenage girl that blue ground effects, bass and a spoiler is some kind of symbol of sexiness; but either way when I heard about London’s drift crew NIGHTKids… I was in!
At first, things seemed a little half-hearted. The meet which was meant to see the drivers convoy across London and recreate the opening scene from Tokyo Drift felt a lot more like a back issue of Max Power than Shinjuku…. Where’s Luda? Why is there so much vaping?! Who the fuck are these chicks sitting on freshly waxed hoods in perspex stripper heels?
Then just as I was ready to throw in the towel, things heated up. More cars arrived, engines sparked and revved, tires squealed. More wax, more polishing….bassier reggaeton played out, cooler chicks peeled their way out of back seats. The ambience quickly transformed into the closest thing Neasden will ever come to resembling Miami spring break and a 2002 Daddy Yankee video.
Then sadly, just as shit was getting good….one of the drivers tore out a drift and the whole thing went bust! The police showed up, shut it down and everyone scattered!…. I would have been gutted!!! But this is all part of the game and the thrill of what these guys do…but also why things are normally kept top secret and on a much smaller scale!
So when I was invited back the week later by NIGHTKid’s to photograph a private meet and check out a music video shoot in the graffiti tunnels at Waterloo, I couldn’t say no.
The backdrop of smokey spray-can-fumed air, rebellious vibrant tags and punks knocking out kickflips…much closer to what I had always imagined it would be.
A slick electric purple BMW, Chevy hot rod pick up, and atomic orange C6 Corvette purred in the background. While jaw-dropping customised Ducati’s and flash super bikes roared up, which from what I’m told include a Suzuki GSXR, Yamaha R6 and a trio of Yamaha MT07’s. Their headlights illuminating and stylising the final frames as ‘rapper’ Claudio Marques spits lyrics over a variety of exhaust-heavy takes…, whilst throwing down dance move’s reminiscent of a Butlin’s Ne-Yo impersonator/ Usher in a setting that’s starting to feel a lot like MJ’s Bad.
The Corvette owner excitedly lays down the specs to me between shots and tins of Red Stripe which include something about a LS2 6 Litre engine, Oracle LED running lights, BillyBoat long tube exhaust headers and EFI live tuning, and that there are only 3 in the UK in that colour!
I have no fucking idea what he’s talking about, but it sounds pretty rad and his passion is intoxicating!
At the end of the day this is what these guys do best – set a scene. Show and prove, and also the reason NIGHTKid’s reformed after the Neasden meet as strictly members only. To keep things underground and stay loyal to the elite members. Separate the “real enthusiasts” from the fakes, and these guys no doubt are the real deal. Meticulous perfectionists to the artistic obsessions if you will in which they have worked tirelessly on and spent god knows how much money curating!!! An absolutely lovely bunch to hang out with, whose shit you can’t not check out!
That is, of course…if you’re lucky enough to find them. x
Words by Tracy Kawalik
Photos by Tracy Kawalik