NIGHTCLUBS IN LONDON
Every major DJ in the world either lives in London or makes frequent visits. The UK has taken the lead in developing new types of dance music. Even weekly publications have trouble keeping up with the club scene Time Out (W, £2.20), the Londoner’s clubbing bible, only lists about half the happenings any given night. The scene revolves around promoters and the nights they organize rather than the clubs themselves; top nights come, go, and move around unpredictably. To stay on top of things, comb through Time Out, which also prints the TOP pass, giving you discounts on many of the week’s shenanigans.
Working out how to get home afterwards is crucial; the Tube and regular buses stop shortly after midnight, and after lam black cabs are rare. If there’s no convenient Night Bus home, ask the club in advance if they can order a minicab for you; otherwise, order your own before you leave. Although it’s technically illegal for minicabs to ply for hire, whispered calls of taxi or honking horns signal their presence but there’s no guarantee that the driver is reputable. Agree on a price before you get in, and never ride alone.
DRESS. Clubs tend to fall into one of two categories: Those for dancing, and those for posing. In the former, dress codes are generally relaxed; jeans, stylish t-shirts, and trainers, though women are usually expected to make more of an effort. At posers’ clubs, however, dress is crucial. If you’re not sure what to wear, call the club beforehand; otherwise, black and slinky is usually safe.
Fabric, 77a Charterhouse St. Tube: Farringdon. One of London’s premier clubs, Fabric is as large and loud as it gets, featuring a vibrating main dance floor that is actually one giant speaker. Cover F £12, Sa-Su £15.
IS Tongue&Groove, 50 Atlantic Rd. Tube: Brixton. Soak up the brothel chic-huge black leather sofas and red lighting-and anticipate ecstatic early-morning partying. Cover £3-4. Open daily 9pm-5am.
ill Bug Bar, Crypt, St. Matthew’s Church Tube: Brixton. The antithesis of most self-labeled cool nightspots, the intimate space in this whitewashed former church crypt holds an extremely laid-back, friendly crowd. Cover under £7. Open W-Th 7pm-lam, F-Sa 8pm-3am, Su 7pm-2am.
Strawberry Moons, 15 Heddon St. Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. Eccentric club with theatrical lighting effects, an animatronic talking moose head, a time machine, and a staff that performs impromptu dance routines. Cover under £10. Open M and W 5pm-llpm, Tu and Th-Sa 5pm-3am.
Notting Hill Arts Club, 21 Notting Hill Gate. Tube: Notting Hill Gate. With turntables on folding tables, 1 dance floor, and no decoration beyond projections and art left over from daytime exhibitions, this no-frills basement still manages to rock the house. Acts vary daily. Cover M £4, free before 9pm; Tu-Th £5, free before 8pm; F £6, free before 8pm; Sa-Su £5, free before 6pm. Open M-W 6pm-lam, Th-F 6pm-2am, Sa 4pm-2am, Su 4pm-12:30am.
Scala, 275 Pentonville Rd. Tube: King’s Cross. The huge main floor embraces its movie-theater past: DJs spin from the projectionist’s box, tiered balconies make great people-watching, and giant screens pulse with wild visuals. Dress up. Cover £7-13.
Ministry of Sound, 103 Gaunt St. Tube: Elephant and Castle. Take the exit for South Bank University. Mecca for serious clubbers worldwide-arrive before it opens or queue all night. Emphasis on dancing rather than decor, with a massive main room, smaller second dance floor, and overhead balcony bar. Dress well, especially on Sa. F garage and R&B (10:30pm-5am; £12); Sa US and vocal house (llpm-8am; £15).
Bar Rumba, 36 Shaftesbury Ave. Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Fresh, young crowd makes good use of the industrial-strength interior. Cover £3-12. Open M-Th 9pm-3am, F 9pm-4am, Sa 9pm-5am, Su 8pm-l:30am.
Madame Jojo’s, 8-10 Brewer St. Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Intimate bordello-style red-hued club, with a sunken dance floor inviting grand entrances down the staircase. Th deep beats (cover £5-7).