London's dress-up clubs

Clubbing fashion guru Paisley Dalton divulges the best places to flaunt your DIY or vintage looks

  • Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, New York was the destination of choice for disorderly party-mongers in search of outrageous behaviour and Patricia Field-inspired club kid looks. 2000 hit and after we all realised we were still alive, Berlin traded in its bombed-out wasteland attire for a sparkly new electroclash frock (Danke Peaches!). But it’s London that has most recently combined the ‘in Vogue’ of NYC with the industrial rave wave of German tanzmusik.

    Fashion and the discotheque have always been inextricably linked – dressing up for a spot of debauchery is de rigeur. So slap on a bit of paint and paste and get twisting and turning at the hottest nights in town…

    South Molton Street on a Wednesday night may seem an unlikely place to find a rousing night out, but Tesco Disco has created an amazing multimedia experience incorporating the art of local heroes Stuart Semple and Nic Gough, an enticing sound of early ’80s post-punk electronic klang, and a strikingly beautiful array of punters – ’60s Dior pale faces framed by Twiggy-meets-Candy Darling dark eyeliner and layers of black mascara, Devo dance moves, and the artistic air of Montmartre circa 1983.

    Tesco Disco is a nocturnal art gallery-cum-experimental performance space where the themed nights are created by different groups each week. I was graciously greeted at the door by impressively statuesque scenester Emily Strange who confidently informed me that this party is about ‘passion… there are no glo-sticks here’. I soon realised that passion can derive from a variety of sources. Wonderful in its Warholian cultness, TD has managed to create a night with a look, but without attitude. Absolutely fantastic!

    Equally stylish in a trick-at-a-truckstop way, and proud members of the glo-stick-flailing union, the new Monday night Blok Party at Soho’s Candy Bar is orchestrated by DIY enfants terribles Yr Mum Ya Dad, who regularly shake up Saturdays at their Anti-Social shindig at Bar Music Hall.

    DJing a mix of bootleg and white-is-the-new-black-wearing unsigned bands, YMYD are the pied pipers of the current dayglo-acid look, encouraging all kids to empty out those green-glowing tubes and bask in the glory of their new-found radioactiveness. Having said that, be forewarned: if you haven’t made an effort at sartorial self-expression (clue: Topshop is not a designer), you could be left standing out in the cold.

    If you’re looking for the prevailing proprietors of hipness, Sunday’s Boombox on Hoxton Square is the point for PYTs (pretty young things). The party known as Family when it was at Bar Music Hall has been born again, as promoter Richard Mortimer, notorious for flippin’ the vibe when the ‘normals’ begin to infiltrate (as at his previous nights, Family and Golf Sale), has brought back the teadance/after-after-hours party.

    Here, house and disco-electro are reworked, and Beyond Retro vintage, sequined baseball caps and animal farm masks mingle with concept store trendies and the occasional natural beauty. Sexy is back with a BOOM! And this is the best night running.

    And what would nightlife be like without The Cock? Home to legendarily stylish nighthawks Tasty Tim and Princess Julia, originators of the fash-clash movement, it brews up scorching sounds of future electro and retro pop. The dazzling duo effortlessly entertain a loyal following of misfits, disco darlings and the occasional celebrity on the down low looking for a discrete tête-à-tête.

    No fashionable list would be complete without praise for the night that single-handedly kept London looking fierce: Kash Point. Whether on board Thames steamboats or in steamy nightclubs, Kash Point creates a fantasy land that has to be seen to be believed – Victorian vixens nestle up next to cyber-sexy dominatrixes, arts and krafty next to leather and lace, Leigh Bowery next to Bowery Bar – it’s all part of the methodical madness. Look out for its reappearance soon. It’s not to be missed!

    Tesco Disco is on Wednesdays at 43 South Molton St.
    Blok Party is on Mondays at Candy Bar and Anti-Social is at Bar Music Hall on Saturdays.
    Boombox is on Sundays at Hoxton Bar & Grill.
    The Cock is on Fridays at The Ghetto. See Gay listings and

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