The main idea of the club is to dress up in your old school uniform – or, if that was as hideous as mine was or no longer fits, an approximation to the stereotypical school uniform. Most people came in white shirts, stripy ties, and black or grey skirts or trousers – some of the more inventive had unearthed little caps, straw boaters, blazers, cricket jumpers, mortarboards (they came as teachers) and scouts’ uniforms, and a few enterprising boys came in drag. The more unusual you look the more attention you get, so dress up or down depending on whether you want to get chatted up all night or just spend a fun evening dancing with friends.
The DJ started off on eighties classics – Wake Me Up Before You Go-go and Take on Me were played one after the other, followed swiftly by assorted Madonna hits, Come on Eileen and other staples of eighties compilation tapes. A birthday gave the excuse to launch into Celebrate, which kicked off a series of seventies songs. Even if you weren’t around when they first came out (or hadn’t yet graduated onto pop music) it would be unusual not to know most of the songs – they’re the sort of cheesy anthems familiar from pubs, school/university discos, and hired DJs.
The clientele – as I mentioned, young, attractive and flirty. The men are better looking than average, something we noticed with delight as soon as we arrived. Most people are well under thirty, with most between 20 and 26 (although there were a couple of seventeen year olds about). For some reason there are slightly more public school types than there are in the average nightclub (or perhaps you just notice it more because everyone’s wearing their old uniform). Everyone is very friendly and down-to-earth. It’s hard to be either pretentious or aggressive while dressed in school uniform, which ensures a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
Any criticisms? Unless you buy tickets over the web in advance, you usually have to queue for at least an hour and a half before getting in – the night I went it was snowing. The club is also packed (and it always fills up to its maximum capacity), making it quite difficult to move without bumping into someone else. The venue isn’t brilliantly maintained, and is a bit grubby – mostly this adds to the ramshackle ’school disco’ charm, but it was quite annoying that there wasn’t any loo paper in the girls’ loos, even at the beginning of the evening.
It’s almost impossible to avoid pulling at schooldisco – almost everyone is young,reasonably good-looking and amazingly flirtatious. The school uniform thing probably helps as well, not least because it dissolves inhibitions – when you already look absurdly like an extra from Grange Hill or a Soho sex show, there seems very little point in preserving your dignity. That said, it’s also great for a night out with friends – the eighties and seventies hits make everyone feel warm and nostalgic (unless they’re incredibly cool and contemptuous towards anything that could be considered cheesy).