At the Battersea Power Station last week, where the London Evening Standard announced its list of 1000 most powerful Londoners, I talked to a well-known nightclub owner, who predicted the demise of the capital’s expensive flashy nightclubs.
The reasons were myriad: too many clubs and greedy promoters, changing tastes, the various monied types from East Europe, the Middle East and the Premier League, wanted to party on their own, rather than together.
I didn’t get a chance to mention that in the following few days I was planning on attending the launch parties for two arrivals to the nightclub scene.
Ruskis Tavern (“Tavern” is the hot new suffix to any venue’s name, just the week before I dined at the brand new Berner’s Tavern) opened its doors to a carefully-distressed basement venue, with nods to various eras in Russia’s history. Keen to position itself as the hot new space, the owners have combined an extraordinarily long vodka list with a strict door policy and a “glamorous only” dress code.
A couple of nights later I was at the opening night of No.41 in the Westbury Hotel, another new challenger. I worry about the trend naming venues after street numbers: soon descriptions of bar crawls will sound like phone numbers being read aloud. But the room was full of people in the know, judging where this opulent Parisian-boudoir-esque interior would rank in the hierarchy of clubs.
For some, the concept of the London nightclub is unpalatable. Outside rude staff clutch clipboards, while inside the extraordinary displays of wealth can seem vulgar. But they remain enormously popular. At the start of this evening, you’ll find queues shuffling slowly to the doors of the most fashionable, while at the end of the night paparazzi waiting to capture someone famous falling out of them.
What’s more this week Annabel’s, the club that perhaps started London’s obsession with them, began its 50 anniversary celebrations, perhaps trying to show that it is still at the very top of its game. And next week, the club across the road from Annabel’s, 2&8, celebrates its first birthday with a big event in Berkeley Square.
Only time will tell if the club owner’s theory of their demise is greatly exaggerated or not. If he’s right, and they are going down, then they’re doing so in a blaze of fittingly extravagant bashes. But these launches, events (and queues outside them) suggest an industry that – like high-end restaurants – wants the party to keep going for some time to come.