When Chic’s Nile Rodgers lined up alongside the Daft Punk robots last month, music lovers of all ages knew something good would come of it. But not only did it result in ‘Get Lucky’, the most catchingly irresistible pop song in years, it has also sparked a second coming of disco.
Which is good, because I love dancing. Always have. Back in the day I was considered hot stuff on the dance floor, and while I don’t now shake my booty with the same uninhibited enthusiasm (it’s undignified, unfortunately) I still think one of the best natural highs available is a song you love, space to move and a partner who will watch lustfully as you throw some shapes. Like Pharrell sings on said song: “We’ve come too far to give up who we are.”
So it’s a source of sorrow to me that I rarely get my groove on these days. Weddings, friends’ parties and music festivals don’t come around nearly often enough to satisfy me, and to be frank, there is nothing more lowering to a middle-aged lady’s spirits, however buff she may be feeling, than mingling in clubland with a sea of ostentatiously fecund teens and 20-somethings.
Fortunately I’m not the only person who still wants to get down on it (thank you Kool & the Gang). In search of a third way, I consulted the hippest people I know for their favourite dance venues; clubs where I won’t feel a thousand years old because age groups are mixed, where they play the music I want to dance to and where it’s also possible to have a nice sit down and a conversation.
Haven’t stopped dancing yet
Nikki Spencer, a woman after my own heart, founded Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet after a “disappointing” attempt to go dancing with friends: “After queuing in the rain for one West End club we decided to call it a night before even getting through the door.”
Frustrated, she decided to organise regular soul, funk and disco nights that are about dancing, not about picking people up or looking cool. She says: “You won’t bump into your teenage kids – although we did once get a crowd of 20-somethings who loved the vibe.”
For unpretentious fun, HSDY sounds pretty ideal. But how about something a little more glamorous? On the basis that you can’t beat personal recommendations, I asked some of my coolest friends for their favourites. The results are inevitably very London-centric, for which apologies.
Grown-up clubbing in Europe
But first of all, abroad, disinhibiting for all concerned due to the universal ‘what plays in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ rule.
Club Baron in Paris scores highly, as do St Tropez and Ibiza. “The Ibiza party scene is a bit more flexible now, with us oldies going early and late season and leaving July and August to the 20-somethings,” says one travel insider. (Look out for Boujis or Pacha at Space.)
Victoria Aitken recommends El Gringo nightclub in Gstaad. Art journalist Sophie Hastings suggests: “The Venice Biennale, the Hong Kong art fair, Miami, Basel and so on, as they’re full of cool art people for whom age is not an issue.”
Keeping it cool in central London
And nearer to home? Inevitably, private members’ clubs feature prominently. Shoreditch House offers “sophisticated vibes with their cool Sunday Sessions on the roof”. It’s worth making the pilgrimage to “Tramp, definitely, now it has a new lounge bar and smoking terrace”. Annabel’s and Mortons, also both in Mayfair, are other old favourites for the better heeled.
However, ‘private’ needn’t mean £2,000 bottles of Cristal and decade-long waiting lists. The Player and Milk and Honey, both in Soho, are part of a small stable of nightclubs in London, New York and the French Alps that ooze adult sex appeal. At Whisky Mist, too, owners Piers Adam and Nick House are aiming for “an international clientele of guys in their forties”. So if you scrub up well, you should feel at home.
Then there’s the gorgeous Sanderson, where gig nights are always an excuse for a jiggle, and downstairs at Momo. Proud in Camden and the Shadow Lounge (“Gay, so it’s great for dancing with no hetero hassle”) come equally recommended.
Laid-back and local
Going local works too. “I like The Regent pub in Kensal Green,” says Jessica Fellowes, author of The Devil You Know: Looking Out For The Psycho In Your Life. “It’s a pub with a great garden and a small dance area in front of the sofas but not-too-cool music and not-too-intimidating a crowd.”
Gypsy Hotel at the Stag’s Head in Hoxton supplies its Bourbon Soaked Snake Charmin’ Rock’n’Roll Cabaret to a mixed crowd for whom age is an irrelevance. In Brighton, lifestyle journalist Mimi Spencer goes to the Brighton Ballroom for “cheesy, silly dancing, plus burlesque nonsense”.
Maggie: an Eighties throwback
In Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, Simon Reynolds argues that our re-use, recycle, revive attitude to previous decades is stifling creative innovation. Maybe so, but it makes for a great night out. Maggie’s, for example, is an Eighties-inspired club run by the same thrusting young club owners who set up Barts and Bunga Bunga.
It draws plenty of punters who remember Maggie the first time around. Their next venture, as it happens, is a bang-on-trend destination called Disco, opening later this month, which aims to bring that Seventies Manhattan loft party vibe to Carnaby Street.
On the subject of nostalgia, perhaps I should set up a club night that exactly replicates the Cambridge college basement ‘sweaty bops’ of my youth. Now that would really have them queuing round the block.