Traditionally clubbers in London's Soho area can go to Bar Italia and chill out over a cappuccino and a croissant. In other parts of the country an all- night cafe, such as the Market Diner in Brighton, might suffice. But in reality the choice is poor and the atmosphere staid.
Recently, there has been a boom in post-club clubs catering to for the serious clubber who wants to 'come down' after a frenetic, six-hour session of dedicated clubbing. One such venue is the Twilight Zone in Clapham, London. 'People have always wanted to continue the party after they've been chucked out on to the street,' explain the promoters of the 'Zone', Abbie Jackson and Connie Burchell. 'Cafes in themselves are simply not adequate. They provide the refreshment, but not the atmosphere. At the Zone we provide strong coffee, large pots of tea, pastries, games such as chess, backgammon and dominoes and a damn good sound system. The DJs know how to read the mood. When the doors open at 5am the tunes are generally more mellow, but by 10 the place is kicking.'
Much of the success of places like the Twilight Zone can be attributed to the extended dance and entertainment licences clubs now enjoy, which can last up to noon the following day. Chris de Perro at Manchester's Manto Bar, which opens on a Sunday morning at 2.30am, stresses the need for making clubbing an extended event. 'We get a lot of people on their way home from Paradise Factory, Home and Hacienda, but now that Strangeways - the club across the road - opens at 3am, Manto is seen as the starting point for a club night, rather than the finale.'
Post-club venues are limited to very few parts of the country, specifically Manchester and London. This is often down to whether the local police want clubs to get extended licences. Rob Minto from the Shark Bar, in Brighton, bemoans the fact that a licence for extended opening is not available. 'Don't get me wrong, the police are fantastic in Brighton and very supportive, but it would make more sense for me to have my bar open from 3am onwards to offer non-alcholic drinks in a controlled environment. People need plenty of fluid after a heavy night of dancing and they should be in a place which is relaxed and supervised.'
It is the fierce competition from the plethora of club nights that has forced promoters to find unique selling-points. But the shift from alcohol to drugs in the club scene has also certainly increased the appeal of post-club venues, which enable people to 'come down' in a relaxed setting.
'When we started we were one of the very few places to offer an after-club service,' Abbie explains. 'We found a niche, but now the Zone has developed to such an extent that it is seen very much as an event in its own right. Many of our clients come directly to us without going to a club first. For these people we are the main event.'
London: Twilight Zone, 697 Wandsworth Road, SW8 5am-1pm (Sat), 5am-12noon (Sun) (071-585 3535) pounds 2
Frog and Firkin, Old Kent Road, SE15 10am-3.30pm (Sun) pounds 5
Cross, The Arches, Kings Cross Goods Yard, York Way, WC1 (071-837 0828), 5am-9am (Sun) free
Manchester: Manto Bar, 46 Canal St M1, 2.30am-5am (Sun) (061-236 2667) pounds (Photograph omitted)Reuse content