Can Oobah Butler resist the urge to join the countertop dancers?
Whether you’ve swiped through your mate’s wistful Medium post about their “first Fabric”, shared a damning e-Petition about noise-complaint laws (“Boys… It’s a disgrace!”), or just found yourself trudging past the carcass of Madame Jojo’s, you’ll be fully aware of the current narrative attached to nightclubs: they’re hunted mercilessly and driven to near-extinction.
And though the number of closures is reason to be depressed, today is the day to forget it all. To dump the doom and gloom, and rejoice: Soho has a new late-night bar. Perhaps we can still turn back the clock and rescue London! Thrumming with optimism, I head over to Dirty Harry’s – the Coyote Ugly-themed saloon bar on Wardour Street. Bar-top dancers choreographed by someone who’s worked with Neo and Craig David? Yes please!!!
Passing through into the bowels of the colossal, darkened bar, I look around. It’s curious – I didn’t know they had UV lighting in Coyote Ugly? Did everybody nod half-heartedly to Eagle Eye Cherry’s Stay Tonight? And did all the people in Coyote Ugly look like Foxtons workers?
But in all seriousness, this is exactly what we have here. The same bereft cocktail-bar vibe you can taste on every street corner in Clapham, uneasily merged with Shoreditch signifiers like “44 different beers” and “street-food takeovers”. Thing is though, it’s super busy in here. Why?
Is simply having staff dressed in clean plaid shirts like peripheral characters in Dawson’s Creek, tossing around baskets filled with fries as if they’re hay bales, enough to make somewhere desirable? Are we, barely over 5ive reunion tours, so thirsty for nostalgia that we’ll find it in an era that’s literally just gone by? It seems that way, friends.
Suspended in a loft, high above a large room filled with slender, tall tables, a band starts to thump through covers. I’m just relaxing into it when the bar lights behind us illuminate. Seven women leap on, launching into dances: aggressive, liberating explosions of energy. The mood is jubilant, and one female punter follows their lead, jumping on her table too; we all cheer. Maybe we can save nightlife after all!
A bouncer leaps across the room yelling, “Get the f*ck off there!” Then the smokescreen clears, and I realise where I am. I’m not in an alternate universe of Noughties nostalgia – it’s 2017. I’m in Soho, sipping halves of watery beer. A world away from New York City, yet definitely 50 metres away from Sunset Strip.