For the duration of sixth form, I was trying to get into any sort of club based in either Leicester Square or Soho. Post-university, I do my best to avoid such establishments. If you live anywhere near these parts or have dared to venture into central London on a Saturday evening, for even half an hour, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: tourist town (aka The West End).
The night starts with that sinking feeling when you hand over a tenner to get into somewhere that you just know is going to be a disappointment. You’re here for a friend’s birthday or have merely stumbled upon the last place open after a drunken dinner. Then comes the stamp, the obligatory nine-foot-tall-bouncers who haven’t smiled in a decade (probably because they work here) and the demand of a pound or two to hang your coat on a sweaty hanger with only a raffle ticket for evidence of your exchange. After this, you (obviously) head to the bar. On your stroll you’ll trot past tables brimming with belvedere, bucket loads of grey goose and A LOT of polyester suits. You’ll then hand over fourteen pounds for a double gin and tonic to decide almost immediately that this evening will therefore be ‘a quiet one’.
After your over-priced cocktail, you’ll need to top up your tan in the toilet to keep up with your neon companions. God forbid one of those super qualified photographers’ catch you off guard without a chance to side step, bend your head and crouch in an effortless bid to look natural. In the bathroom, you’ll grow increasingly aware of the feint sound of Usher from the main room, cubicle doors will swing open ‘mid-flow’ and girls will frantically be taking photographs of their friends with the sink, or you, eyes half-open, as the backdrop.
Once settled in the bar, you’ll notice that people in this underbelly don’t dance to music in the same way you do. It isn’t something to be enjoyed, demonstrated by glossy pouts and lingering stares from men in v neck shirts lining the dance floor. People don’t throw their arms in the air, covered in cider. Instead, they ‘court’ each other. Or rather, grind on each other’s arses and play “hard to get” whilst riding someone in a booth.
Basically, in these clubs, a table is a ticket to getting laid and if you’re in the VIP area, you’re pretty much Justin Beiber. While I’m not one to judge and am well aware that these polished people would despise the dives I frequent, I really would exchange the diamantes and expensive vodka for a plastic cup and smiling faces any day.
Don’t just consider zone one for fun places to go in London Town, you’ll find some absolute gems for the price of a bit of rock, elsewhere. And if all this isn’t enough to persuade you? The night bus home is an effing nightmare.
Take me back to Notting Hill at once.