So a bit of a disclaimer – I have, and always will have, a soft spot for this place in my heart. I’ve been going there for many, many years – as it was a staple place to go if you worked in the West End – it’s no-frills all-spills kind of experience – you don’t have to look like (or be) worth £1,000s to get in. You could go with any numbers of friends, it was cheap enough to get in and to this day still has the longest queues of any venue after 9pm (so I’ve learnt to get there early 😉 ) I’ve met some of my best friends there over the years and collectively we keep going.
It had a refurbishment around 4-5 years ago and, compared to how it was before (think sticky floors, tacky decor and really, really random music they put on) it has changed to become more modern, a bit gloomier (I’ll get to that further below) but a really great place to be at – whether to meet with friends and/or unwind after work.
So, simply put, it’s a basement bar – one big room – and after you go down the two flights of stairs and open the doors you come in from one corner, with the toilets in the opposite far corner, the bar on the opposite side, streched wide across (almost across the entire venue, which is great in terms of spreading out people so there isn’t an abundance of people there all at once). There are seating areas in the middle and all along the outside, with a dancefloor area in the far corner. The dancefloor area itself isn’t massive, but the rest of the bar is really spacious and lots of seating/quiet areas. The Cloakroom, which is near the entrance, is quite small and so, at closing times, the queues can take a while.
During evening hours – say 6pm to 10pm – it’s really quiet and relaxed. You normally get groups of friends mingling after-work and/or a few random get-togethers, and as such the bar service is quick and, during it’s famous Happy Hours, is really cheap and very competitive with a varied choice, particularly for that area (hence making it a popular place!)
After 10pm, the tables and chairs are moved, and, almost at once, groups of other people come in and the DJs start putting the music on. It can seem like quite a dim place, normally the lighting isn’t from the ceiling but from behind the seats/floor – rather than similar type of venues around the area where lighting is paramount and everywhere, here it’s more intimate and exciting. The sound system/lighting is really great too – not too loud, not too much bass and it’s a comfortable place whether on the dancefloor or sitting down just chatting to friends, the sound is no different.
In terms of music/themes, they put on really specialised nights – Wednesdays/Thursdays are normally Hip-Hop/RnB/90s with Fridays/Saturdays being about Disco/Indie/80s – so can be quite varied.
There’s always good crowds that go there too – mostly work-types unwinding and students, and I can honestly say I’ve never had any trouble there, and that’s also the appeal, where it’s a place with good vibes and everyone is there for a dance.
It’s been a hard place to shake off a stigma that it’s a ‘dive’ – as it’s been around for so long, positioned in-between other places that have that same stigma, and the previous version of it wasn’t great – but like with most places, the more you go there the more you like it. I highly recommend it if you and friends are anywhere near Oxford Circus/Tottenham Court Road, and don’t fancy the 10-20minute walk into Picadilly Circus/Soho/Covent Garden (and the various crowds/queues that entails) then you couldn’t do better than here. Check it out!
(Side Note: I don’t, and don’t think I’ll ever have, any decent photos of this place, so I’ve resorted to using Google Image/Trip Advisor ones!)