Dylan Jones: 'If you had to explain a disappearance, or had to rate an evening out, a simple ‘Groucho’ would suffice'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

So there we were, Frank Dunphy and myself, sitting in one of the upstairs bars in the Groucho Club, swapping war stories. Did I remember the night that ****** ran through the club naked (apart from a half drunk martini); did he remember the night ****** *** was found downstairs in the ***** covered in *******? Oh yes, we did. Didn't we just.

The disyllable "Groucho" was once used to cover a multitude of sins, was once used to explain a lengthy or protracted absence (and sometimes a sabbatical). If you were forced to explain a suspicious disappearance, or asked to rate an evening out, a simple "Groucho" would suffice. This meant that you had probably drunk your body weight in sauvignon blanc, left your wife for a transsexual wrestler and then woken up in Berlin covered in tattoos. Or you could have gone for a perfectly respectable lunch in, say, Bibendum, and then found yourself many hours later – after a lengthy sojourn in Dean Street – somewhere in Holland Park, with a Belgian conceptual artist, the bass player of an international rock combo and the editor of a national newspaper.


And now it appears to be back. The Groucho Club, that is. With something of a vengeance. Since opening in 1985 the club has suffered various heavy assaults from the trenches, as members' clubs have sprung up in almost every desirable postcode. Once the Groucho was your only choice, but then there was Blacks, Green Street, Soho House, the Electric, George, the Ivy Club, Shoreditch House and all points in between and above and beyond. Loyalties were split. But it now looks like the Groucho Club may be back. Evenings that might have once ended in east or west London are now finishing (and I use the word with caution) in Dean Street, and half a dozen times in the last month – after concerts, parties, dinners and (yes) once even the theatre – my own personal party sat nav has taken me deep into the wilds of Soho.

And you know what, it feels good to be back. So – carefully, without spilling your drink – repeat after me: "Groucho".

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'