London loves to dance. Every night of the week, all over town, you’ll find clubs pumping out all kinds of music: house, R&B, techno, swing, salsa, ’80s pop, you name it. There are underground clubs, loft clubs, backroom clubs and warehouse clubs. Some restaurants and bars morph into clubs after midnight. To help you know where to start, we’ve picked 5 London clubs worth checking out.
The nightclub is named after 1980s Prime-Minister-turned-icon Margaret Thatcher. Club-goers can hear her famous speeches playing in the restrooms, while Thatcher memorabilia vies for space on the walls along with other iconic ’80s images and paraphernalia, such as A-Team action men and a-ha platinum discs. Expect to hear Madonna, Whitney Houston and Gloria Estefan among other classics from the decade, often played by stars from the era who perform guest DJ sets. The Maggie’s bartenders are dressed like Tom Cruise in the ’80s cult movie, Cocktail, and serve up a range of drinks like Babycham, the sparkling perry that was the ubiquitous drink of the decade.
This raunchy, risque cabaret club, modeled after its namesake in NYC, is the celebrity hangout of the moment. Several glitterati have been spotted here since it opened in February 2011, including Prince Harry (Will’s brother), models Elle Macpherson and Kate Moss, and actors Jude Law, Vanessa Hudgens and Keira Knightley. A table will set you back $3,000, but if you put on your sexiest clothes and queue up outside just after 10 p.m. (doors open at 11p.m.), then you shouldn’t have trouble getting in. The entry is free, but expect to pay $16 for a cocktail.
Ministry of Sound
A huge warehouse club with a global reputation, Ministry of Sound is the place to go for house, electro and techno played at loud volume. A riff on the American house music scenes in Chicago and Detroit, this mega-club now rivals both. Go on Friday night for hard house and trance, and on Saturday for house and electro. If you want to dance all night, you’ll be grateful for the sprung dance floor in the main space, the Box (not to be confused with the club of the same name). There are 4 other spaces, too, each with its own DJ, so you won’t get bored.
If you like the idea of an underground club, then Cable is, literally, underground. Situated in a railway arch underneath London Bridge station, this club pulls in a trendy crowd of serious clubbers. It oozes atmosphere from its 2 rooms, and you’ll find the large outdoor smoking terrace is ideal for chatting and flirting. If you’ve been up all night dancing elsewhere, then you may want to stop by for Jaded, the club’s regular Sunday morning after-party. Caution, though: You might get a shock when you emerge at 1 p.m. into the bright above-ground world of Sunday afternoon shoppers.
The king of London clubs, Fabric is a huge, multi-floored mecca for cutting-edge electronic music. Located in Clerkenwell, a district in east London, the club is a former meat-packing factory. It’s a labyrinth maze inside, with room after room of beats. The club also intermittently hosts live acts alongside internationally renowned DJs, such as the Swiss-Chilean DJ Luciano. Come for the party atmosphere and the special body sonic sound system, which gets the music under your skin even if you aren’t dancing.
If you want to jump the queues, then take a look at www.mylondonclubs.com, where you can find discounts on club entry and first drinks, and put your name on the guest list. And finally, make sure you pack your dancing shoes.
Writer Antonia Windsor, a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer in Britain.