'When it comes to music, Brighton knows its stuff'

In a city that has a reputation for being so hip it hurts, planning a night out can be a daunting prospect. Best start with a drink, then. If you need proof of Brighton's pleasure-seeking spirit, then note that the city has more pubs per square mile than any other in the UK.

In a city that has a reputation for being so hip it hurts, planning a night out can be a daunting prospect. Best start with a drink, then. If you need proof of Brighton's pleasure-seeking spirit, then note that the city has more pubs per square mile than any other in the UK.

Go to just about any pub or bar in the North Laine and you're on safe ground. The Dorset, The Great Eastern and Mash Tun all have friendly, cosmopolitan clientele and decent bar food. In Kemp Town, home to much of Brighton's gay population, you'll encounter a similarly convivial vibe. The Sidewinder has a great patio for summer afternoons, while Amsterdam is one of the biggest, most established gay bars on the beachfront.

For something a little more chic, Koba is a smart but unpretentious bar on Western Road, though if you really want exclusive, try the Sussex Arts Club on Ship Street. Julie Burchill is one of its ex-patrons though now Brighton's literary cognoscente enjoy its eccentric charms. If you can't talk your way in there, try a few doors down at Hotel Du Vin & Bistro, where the atmosphere is upmarket and the drinks expensive.

You only need to consider the pop luminaries who live in Brighton - Nick Cave, Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim, Paul McCartney - to know that when it comes to music, Brighton knows its stuff, and the city has many live venues. That's not to suggest that Brighton is easily seduced by celebrity. On the contrary, British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade, Electrelane and The Pipettes are among the more low-key but highly credible acts to emerge from Brighton while Skint Records, the label that launched Fatboy Slim, still operates from here. The Concorde 2 remains a hotbed for new talent - The White Stripes played one of their last small-scale gigs there before their career skyrocketed - while the Old Market in Hove showcases the best in folk and alt.country.

Where clubs are concerned, it pays to do your research. Unless cheesy house music and inebriated teens are your thing, the clubs on West Street - the main drag that takes you from the station to the sea - are generally to be avoided. The Casablanca Club is a long-running underground jazz club that holds ultra-hip Latin jazz, samba and funk nights while the Funky Bhudda Lounge is reassuringly classy, ie, a place where you won't run into a hen party. The Hanbury Ballroom, a domed night-spot in the heart of Kemp Town, has some fun themed nights.

For late-night cabaret and comedy, you rarely need stray further than the Komedia in the North Laine. Comprising a 95-seat theatre and downstairs bar and restaurant it hosted early performances from the likes of Mel and Sue, Graham Norton and The League of Gentlemen and is still the place to see rising comedy talent.

Meanwhile, film aficionados can enjoy late-night screenings at the Duke of York's Picture House on Fridays and Saturdays. Located in Preston Circus, this is a proper arthouse cinema showing current, classic, independent and foreign-language releases. If watching Tarkovsky at midnight while munching on carrot cake baked on the premises isn't your idea of a great night out, you're clearly in the wrong city.



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