Going the extra mile

Alister Morgan
Friday 08 May 1998 23:02

Birmingham's football clubs may not be as successful as sides from neighbouring Manchester and Liverpool, but England's second city still leads the clubbing league table. Revellers who are willing to travel the extra mile for new excitement will invariably find themselves in the Midlands at weekends.

Any assessment of the area must include Miss Moneypenny's at Bond's. This Saturday night glam-fest (which includes the Transformer, right) attracts the good, the bad but never the ugly, and has become a byword for clubbing excellence.

"I travelled up three times before I managed to get in," says 23-year- old Londoner, Tom Barn. "When I did manage it, the atmosphere was incredible. And the women there have to be seen to be believed."

The UK's top spinners regularly feature here, but Moneypenny's unique clientele offers the best chance to get your picture in the Sunday tabloids with erstwhile celebrities. Notoriously hard to gain entry, this gig is for the stylish extroverts among you.

As the name suggests, SLAG (Straight, Lesbians and Gays welcome) at the Steering Wheel, attracts an outrageous kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan clubbers. Located in the heart of the Chinese quarter, this two-floor venue offers glamorous debauchery at a price that puts London to shame.

High-energy dancefloor anthems and uplifting classics rule here, but if your wardrobe's finest offerings are jeans and trainers, you'd better look elsewhere.

The Canal isn't exactly in Birmingham, but I can't talk about the most glamorous clubs in the west Midlands without recommending the Wolverhampton outfit. Boy George lists the venue as one of his favourite gigs, while Pushca thought so much of the place that they agreed to stage their only non-London residency there last year.

The collaboration has now finished, but the club remains a gem. From the burning torches that light the entrance to the transvestites who perform emergency hair and make-up procedures in the ladies loos, The Canal offers a great clubbing experience.

The Sanctuary is one of Birmingham's biggest venues (holding more than 1,300), and it attracts a young and vital crowd. This venue is so big that it boasts a smaller club, The Dance Factory, within its walls. Saturday night features a predictable brand of bangin' house, while Fridays usually offers harder beats with a strong techno edge.

The dancefloor here is vast but also offers punters the chance to brush up on the latest moves from the balcony above. And there are plenty of excellent chill-out areas where you can recoup lost energy.

Earnest students searching for more innovative nocturnal excitement should check out Ronnie Scott's. The great jazz and blues vibes attract jazz scholars, well-heeled suits and just about anyone who loves good music.

The dress-code is supposed to be smart, but a little latitude is given. As you'd expect at such a small but popular venue, the place gets pretty rammed almost every night of the week. If you don't make it in first time, then try again... it's worth it.

Moneypenny's: Sat, Hampton St, Birmingham (0121-236 5503) 10pm-3am pounds 12

SLAG: Fri, Kotwall House, Wrottesley St, Birmingham (0121-622 1150) 9.30pm- 3am pounds 6 members & NUS/pounds 7 others

The Canal: Fri/Sat, British Waterways Yard, Broad St, Wolverhampton (01902 711545) 10pm-2.30am pounds 10

Sanctuary: Fri/Sat, 78 Digbeth St, Birmingham (0121-246 1010) 10pm-3am pounds 8/pounds 6 concs

Ronnie Scott's: Every night, Broad St, Birmingham (0121-643 4523) closes at 2am pounds 9

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