55 Club launches Y.O.L.O Tuesdays with thankfully exclusive party
Y.O.L.O Tuesdays, replacing Y.O.L.O Wednesdays at 55 Club in the West End, celebrated its somewhat fictional launch with an enforced air of exclusivity and a troupe of fire-breathing strippers. The night’s exclusiveness largely involved top-end prices, a phalanx of bouncers suited like the FBI, and a requirement for guests to be distinguished by their organisational skills – entry depends on being on the guest list, achieved by emailing the promoter days in advance.
Once past these various hurdles, guests trod and tottered down a black staircase before turning a sharp corner to emerge onto a thin strip of yellow-lit dancefloor. On one side a series of alcoves contained luxurious leather sofas, in front of which small tables held vast troughs of ice. Tall, slim, stylish bottles of vodka rested on the cold blocks. Along the stylishly black walls (it was a generally dark place) red-glowing pictures of female facial cheeks and just-covered bum cheeks pointed at the guests.
Being a launch night, the promoters worked hard to draw in some famous faces. Alongside the odd footballer, a few aspirational young artists milled through the immaculately-groomed crowd. One, 21-year-old R’n’B singer Harold Bedwei, discussed the night’s music with me. While the promoters had promised something different to what people expect to hear on a West End night – less “oh this one again,” and more “oh – oh – I remember this! What a track!” – the playlist remained entirely conventional. Dance versions of Rihanna tracks, the Eurythmics, and Avicii’s Levels all made an appearance. The playlist was predominantly straight-forward dance-inflected pop, with the odd more soulful R’n’B number thrown in. At the end of the night the promoters distributed a CD of the night’s music, though most of it could be heard easily enough by flicking on the radio for half an hour. The most original musical moment I experienced was a live, a capella rendition of Bedwei’s first single Mine during a brief cigarette break.
There are some problems with gathering the wannabe famous and glamorous together in a single dance venue. Other than a couple of energetic young men, who bounced around the room with their white waistcoats billowing behind them like snow, most of the attendees seemed reluctant to risk dishevelling their appearance with movement. Moreover, networking tends to take the place of dancing and even heavy drinking when potentially important people are around, as I inadvertently discovered through my long conversations with Bedwei. Fortunately, he and his 19-year-old PA proved perfectly pleasant companions for the night.
The party’s climax introduced true contemporary celebrities to the scene, with the appearance of Girls Roc from Britain’s Got Talent. Three women in white lab coats ripped them off to reveal oiled black bras and, after strutting the separated stage for thirty seconds, suddenly pierced the divide and pulled the splits before a whooping crowd, their mouths gaping to shoot jets of flame at the ceiling. Satisfaction by Benny Benassi thumped away in the background. Sadly, no similar offering was provided for the gay men and straight women in the crowd – although it was only five minutes to Soho.
Following the spectacle of a carefully-selected crowd of the West End’s finest whooping at young women parading their bare flesh, my friend and I took ourselves off to a scummy, in no way exclusive bar full of Goths and druids. It cost £2 to get in and on a small square of bare wood a few colourfully-clad souls stomped unselfconsciously to the music.
Y.O.L.O stands for You Only Live Once – a fitting reminder to try and find other ways of feeling good about yourself on a Tuesday night.