Aussie repels American invasion in London speed tiki showdown
A strange sense of anticipation could be felt in Notting Hill on Saturday, August 24th.
Portobello Road shops hammered wooden shutters over their windows. Krylon spray paint fumes hang heavy in the air. Locals had a manic glint in their eyes (especially Ben Reed), and the tourists and rich hipster kids looked more lost than usual.
Strangest of all… Stu Hudson was quiet.
It dawned on BarLifeUK that it took a whole thirty minutes of ‘Australia are shit at cricket’ ribbing to get any sort of response from him. And even then it was lamer than usual.
As we observed him, we could see that his mind was elsewhere, visualizing four-bottle-pours and not smashing glasses. Much like an unfit version of an Olympic skier standing at the top of the mountain, eyes closed, swaying through imaginary turns.
We said to ourselves ‘now there is a man who is prepared’.
Either that or he’s trying not to crap his pants.
Notting Hill was, of course, battening down the hatches for Carnival, which kicked off the following day. But it was pleasing to imagine that the boards and barricades were going up for Rematch.
This year, Rematch went back to its roots. A single heat at home in Trailer Happiness. No multi-city coordination, just London bartenders smashing out ten drinkable serves in the shortest time possible, in front of a baying crowd of clowns and reprobates.
Typically starting a good two hours late, judges Ben Reed, Simon Webster, Andrea Montague, Michael Butt and Jake Burger arranged themselves on bar stools. Visiting DJ Nick van Tiel span up the decks (don’t laugh, that’s what we used to say back when DJs used records), and compares Russel Burgess and Dan Hoobly Boobly flicked the Rematch megaphone to ‘ON’.
At this stage, the usual carnage occurred. We wont attempt to provide you with a blow-by-blow account because the place went nuts and half the time we couldn’t see. The other half the time we were drunk because we’d been at Trailer for four hours at this point.
However, we can tell you that Stu Hudson’s quiet, nervous energy didn’t so much explode into action as gather momentum, like an avalanche. There were no frantic moments, just a calm, fluid performance behind the stick that turned in a time of 1:34, with just a single 5 second penalty.
This was the fastest by a decent margin, and just when it looked as if Stu had nailed it, a surprise was announced. All eyes turned to Trailer’s staircase, down which New York Top Guns Steve Schneider and Giuseppe González walked.
The place went even more nuts, but while most were watching the new arrivals, BarLifeUK turned to look at Stu, and we saw just a hint of ‘fuckit, is the American Eagle going to swoop in a nick the pot?’ in his eyes.
There followed a tense period as Steve prepped his station. Beginning his round, amid crazy noise from the crowd, he looked confident and slick. It was clearly going to be a fast time. However, at the final brappp, and once the penalties were tallied, Stu’s 1:34 stood. He was fastest by one second.
Things at this point get really hazy, I’m sure you’ll understand. We drank a little rum. There was hugging and congratulating. Then more rum and hugging at the Portobello Star. The rest is a blur, just as a Rematch night should be.
Huge congratulations to Stu Hudson for an epic performance, to everyone who competed for having the stones to do it, and to Steve and Giuseppe for being awesome. And of course to the staff at Trailer for smashing out another great night.