Outrageous thoughts inside The Box as New York freak show hits London

Man About Town

Friday morning, 1am and I was trying to leave The Box. I was coming to the end of a long week of late nights and I wanted to go home. I made my way through the crowd, cutting in front of the stage. However, when I got to the middle, the lights went down and a member of staff ushered me into a seat at the front.

When the curtains opened, Marina and the Diamonds started to perform and very quickly I was glad that I stayed. First because she was a very good, stylish performer, whose change in musical direction I hadn't fully appreciated.

And second because this was an after-party for the Barclaycard Mercury awards, so the curtains didn't open to the sight of a naked transsexual doing unspeakable things with a bottle of whisky.

That's the usual form with The Box, you see. Brought over from New York, it revels in nightly shows which indulge the outlandish and the outrageous. Since its arrival a couple of years ago, it has made other clubs play catch-up.

No longer was good music, a cool setting and beautiful people enough – now people needed a curious show which combined sexy with circus-freakery.

But things in the world of nightclubs are faddish in their very nature, so I wonder if there's another fashion coming back to try to make its mark. Before watching Marina, I was at Hakkasan in London, as it launched Ling Ling, its new late night lounge.

No onstage nudity, instead the very well-dressed model Daisy Lowe, playing DJ. The moodily-lit basement setting of this extraordinarily good Chinese restaurant is so much like a nightclub anyway that it's a surprise they didn't decide to do this sooner.

The night before I had been at the launch of the new Buddha Bar. The famed Paris nightclub is having another go at opening in the capital, with a big venue, Asian themes and dancing girls who occasionally breathe fire.

It has been nearly 15 years since the infamous London nightspot Chinawhite opened its doors, inspiring numerous clones.

If these two take off, it could be a new fashionable theme for the foreseeable...

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