Meet Gabriele, Cleilia, Anagloria, Romain and Chiara; Five infamous Italian East End locals who spend a hefty proportion of their time and money enjoying themselves. In fact, they enjoy themselves so much that when l tag-teamed up with them for a few months back in 09 and tried to keep pace l very nearly gave up the bloody ghost.

This hedonistic and corrupt chapter in my life led me to burn through a hefty sum of my bank balance and chip away an irretrievable chunk of my physical health. But somewhere in between the excess and squalor l stole some time to pap a few portraits of  my comrades doing what they do best, being messy in the squat.

They look incredible as a collective: Tall with gangly arms and legs, jet black hair, pale skin and always clad in monochrome. Only ever leaving the house at night, their lifestyles lie somewhere between True blood and The Young ones. Their impassioned and distorted appreciation of life and love keeps them eternally preoccupied with simply wanting to feel good, even when the parties over.

I first met my Italian family when l was slaving  away at my late weekender job. Gabriele was the uni-browed, pierced, eccentric bar back l was ever so mildly terrified of. We’d had little to no interaction out side of an awkward drunken exchange and l was pretty sure he was either psychotic or part of some sort of care in the community scheme. Turns out he wasn’t. We hit it off one evening when he managed to melt my icy heart by plying me with litres of stolen alcohol. It wasn’t too long before me, him and the rest of them were hanging out and squatting in a derelict warehouse in Hackney Wick, leaching off the fat of the land thanks to an oblivious landlord who was completely unaware of our opportunist operations.

It was nice while it lasted, but I quickly discovered that each one of these crazed Italian socializing machines had the stamina of a raging stallion (l think they use the same wholesaling veterinary suppliers as the local stables do too actually). We managed to have fun but inevitably everything fell apart, we got evicted, became bankrupt and had to slither off into the distance, going our separate ways.

Occasionally we cross paths but l now shudder to think of the intensity of our lives during those heady days many moons ago. Now l remember them like ghosts; beautiful apparitions in black and white.

Styling: Milly McMahon
Photography: Nik Hartley