LME Week – not like it used to be?

It’s October 2014, the leaves are falling off the trees – it’s also the time of the year during LME Dinner Week in London when ‘tired and emotional’ metal-bashers fall off their chairs (maybe). But is LME Week 2014 a pale shadow of years gone by as many grizzled industry veterans say?

The premier gathering in the metals calendar started out as the LME Golf Association Dinner in the 1950s and then in the 1960s morphed into a plush ‘must-attend’ jamboree centered on the Grosvenor House Park Lane Tuesday Dinner – London’s biggest black-tie event. By the 1970s and 1980s it was in its heyday. Now – it has become a mirror of a more sober regulated early 21st century market-place, and there are less parties to go to and less people coming over this year..

But does that really mean that LME Dinner Week has seen its glory days. Or is just a case of ‘the good old days are caused by bad old memories’?

Certainly, today’s fashionistas would be horrified at the outfits picked up from Moss Bros back in the day. We’re talking flapping flares, frilly shirts that Liberace would have been proud of, and velvet bow-ties with the wingspan of an albatross. Now, its more ‘Mad Men’ style – sharp and angular.

And how about the partying? The Grosvenor House used to be virtually open-all-hours and after-dinner drinks in the suites would go on well into the small hours of the morning. At which time some survivors would pick their way over the sleeping bodies in the corridors, head for Smithfield Market as the sun came up for a fry-up breakfast, which was washed down with a hair-of-the-dog pint from the local pubs, who had special opening hours for meat-market workers. Then it was in to the office, check the RING page on the Reuters Monitor be be ready for the LME pre-market, and hit the phones.

Now there is a 01:00 curfew at the Grosvenor House, while some of the long-running late-ending parties no longer take place on Monday or Tuesday.

Perhaps that’s not bad thing. After all, the main purpose of LME week is to do business – it is centered on the annual mating season, after all – and networking with trade partners. When all is said and done the metals business is one where face-to-face relationships are key to doing deals, with business partners who become trusted friends, and a handshake often seals the deal.

Easier to do that when you are not bladdered and deafened in a night-club.

Or is that a case of this writer, who has been involved in LME Dinners since the late 1970s, not being able to last the pace anymore? We’ll find out this week.