South of the river: the final frontier

It's London, darling, but not as we know it. Putney, Chloe Fox reports, is the new playground for Chelsea twentysomethings
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I can't go South of the River, I don't have my passport," I once heard fall from the lips of a scantily-clad walking suntan on the Fulham Road. Her clone companions giggled. That was about a year ago when Scantily- Clad was not totally unjustified in her complacent presumption that the area immediately surrounding her own brass-knockered front door - Chelsea - was the social be all and end all of privileged, 20-something London. But a year on and things are changing.

The gulf that was the North/South divide is slowly closing and the delightful irony is that the closure's perpetrator is one of the gulf's creators. For Piers Adam, 33 -year-old creator of glamorous West London nightclub Hanover Grand and co-owner of Kartouche restaurant (favourite Fulham Road hangout of the beautiful and newsworthy) has, with his other two partners in the newly-founded :K Group" - 21-year-old Ben Elliott ("my natural successor") and 27-year-old Benjy Fry, recently opened a nightclub in Putney.

Putney? (Can't you just hear Scantily-Clad spit it out?) The Putney famous for little other than its suburban non-descriptness, it's Pizza Hut and a tube station or two? The very same. "Putney is just waiting to happen," declares Ben Elliott with all the after-the-event confidence of someone who has, in many ways, helped make it happen. Having only opened last week, the K Bar is already doing big business and, sure enough, attracting a predominantly South London crowd who enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere. The only people probably left feeling somewhat dazed and confused are Putney's homosexual community (the K bar used to be the exclusively gay Reflex club) and Chelsea's "we thought we were the only community" community.

The K Group are working closely in conjunction with other bars in the area, most notably the popular Cafe Coast whose deputy-manager, Des Jones, belives the K Group have speeded up the transition from North to South that was always going to happen. The nightlife in Putney, he insists, now joins that of Clapham especially (The bars/restaurants on the Abbeville Road, The Sun Pub) and Battersea (Adrenalin Village), and Brixton (The Dog Star nightclub) alike in the realms of the finally getting groovy South.

With plans to build a Harvey Nichols by the Warner Brothers multiplex in Battersea Power Station and the emergence of many a fashionable nightspot over the River, it seems that those who make Fulham so full might just have to cross the great divide. "But it's too far!" whinges many a Scantily- Clad. Good. Flyers, money, passport?

The K-Bar (200B Upper Richmond Road, London SW15) is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (5.30pm - 2.30am)

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