Over-45s get a second wind for nightclubbing

Disco revolution: Survey finds more than four in ten adults regularly go to clubs, with older ravers more welcome than ever
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The Independent Online
So Peter Stringfellow wasn't out there on his own after all. One in three over 45-year-olds now dances the night away at nightclubs and discotheques around the country, a new survey has revealed.

According to the market researchers Mintel, more than four in ten adults go clubbing now, up from 34 per cent two years ago. And the biggest leap has been amongst 45-54-year-olds, where 15 per cent more now go to clubs.

There are now 4,100 nightclubs in Britain compared with 4,200 in 1994. Drinks - usually alcoholic - account for the vast majority of the revenue generated by the club and also the bulk of profits they make.

The core clientele of nightclubs still remains to 15-24-year-olds, of whom nearly half go clubbing regularly. But Chris Butcher, the report's author, says clubs have recognised the need to cater for older visitors.

"Nightclubs have recognised this trend," he said. "It's partly because of the rising divorce rate. People are finding it harder to find a partner, so they are going to clubs to find romance.

"With increased working time and the pressures on leisure time they are more keen to go to clubs. They also have more disposable income compared with the younger age-groups and so can afford club prices. Nightclubs have reacted to this trend by organising more theme nights, such as over- 25 nights and over-35 nights".

And Dom Phillips, editor of Mixmag, the leading dance-music and club- culture magazine, said clubs today are not as age-exclusive as they used to be: "It is all about having the right attitude," he said. "The kind of club which is more techno-orientated also tends to be open-minded. You could be 60 and no one would mind.

"There is also a big generational change, the idea of the second childhood. People are not settling down until later, so it's not unusual for 35-year- olds to go out. And a lot of DJs are in their late thirties, so it's not a big deal. Dance music is very all-embracing. It's not about where you're from or how old you are, it's where you're at," says Mr Phillips.

Regionally, Scotland and the North-west represent the highest proportion of frequent visitors - one in five Scots is a frequent visitor to nightclubs - with London lagging behind, representing only 9 per cent.

By the end of 1996, industry revenue will break through the pounds 2bn barrier for the first time. The average spent per head will be pounds 11.60, which is considerably lower than the 1991 level of pounds 13.77, due to the increase in the importance of mid-week trading nights, when people tend to spend less money.

However, too many drugs are being taken in clubs according to clubbers. More than a third of 15-24-year-olds agreed with the statement "too many drugs are taken at clubs" - double the view who took this view two years ago.

Nightclubs and Discotheques is available from Mintel, price pounds 375