There is one highly specific job which I would like to do for a few months. Nope, not a fighter pilot (too complicated) or a porn star (too much chafing). My ambition – and I admit that this is slightly offbeat – is to be the chap who comes up with names, and possibly entire brands, for dismal provincial nightclubs. It’s not a role that is particularly lucrative or selfless, but the potential for mischief-making and amusement appears to be huge.
Despite all the effort and attention that no doubt goes into devising club labels, it appears that the whole procedure is mostly irrelevant. For towns of a certain size – I’m thinking of places like Barnstaple, Dover, basically the sorts of glamourless locations that any sensible teenager wishes to escape – there are so few venues that the populace would flock to a bar called “Quiche” if it pumped out Black Eyed Peas and served doubles. In these cases, the name doesn’t matter. Even in proper sized cities where there are universities and employed people (two unconnected features), all the evidence indicates that absurd or ridiculous titles are the norm. Is Tiger Tiger a reference to the amount of fake tan found inside? I doubt it, but it does rattle off the tongue nicely. As for Fabric, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was an emporium for discount curtains.
I expect the wanky re-branders which I aspire to join would claim that there is some logic behind this, that it’s all about “selling a dream”, i.e. making money from nothing. In theory, venue names must hint at everything your average nine-to-fiver is assumed to lust after: celebrity, sex, mystique, excitement and maybe even fun. In reality, you can whack any old word above the entrance, with some of the following being amongst the most wonderfully dreadful: Rivals, Club Alert, Reflex, Talk, Chill, Venue, Idols, Enigma, Fusion, Pussycats and Club XS. Yes, these all exist; I have even visited a few of them and had a reasonable time, despite not having access to a VIP booth (kudos to whoever came up with that little earner, charging punters for the privilege of sitting down on a relatively clean sofa is inspired).
The worst of all has to be Southampton’s very own Provenance, which is a term that should be reserved for history essays, not employed as a euphemism for weekend frivolities. I can imagine the Hollyoaks-esque meeting where this fallacy was devised: “I’m thinking sophistication, I’m thinking classy and I’m thinking smart,” says a guy wearing a dodgy shirt and a flammable hairstyle. His business partner locks in a fist bump, breaks open the celebratory champers and gets on the blower to order 300 gallons of imitation Red Bull.
Not all names are inaccurate, of course. Take “Oceana”, for instance – in my mind this conjures up images of a liquid based behemoth, which is not too far from the truth. If I recall correctly nights there normally involve getting lost immediately and then putting your head in a bucket of alcopops to cope with an experience remarkably like a real-life version of Take Me Out, if the male to female ratio was reversed and Paddy McGuiness was an uncompromising bouncer. Up in Worcester there is apparently a locale called “Tramps”, which I like to think is an indication that the management is refreshingly relaxed about whom they grant entry to, but I fear this might not be the case. In terms of less conventional places, the Miniscule of Sound is one of the few venues I have wanted to visit for the name alone, and by all accounts Torture Garden in Brixton does what it says on the tin.
Anyway, I ought to share some of my own concepts on the off-chance that Joey Essex reads this. How about ‘Pavement’? So called because this is where customers normally wake up afterwards, in the foetal position feeling bewildered. Or ‘CHEE$E’, an unsubtle reference to the playlist and the amount of in-house photographers roaming around, looking to steal souls for the following day’s Facebook dump. I was going to suggest ‘Privilege’ as a hangout for Young Conservatives and Made in Chelsea types but (worryingly) it apparently already exists so what about ‘Status’ instead? ‘Tops’ would make for a cracking gay club, and ‘Thrust’ would specialise in Michael Jackson songs. For drinks that are glow in the dark green, ‘Nuke’ would be the place to go, and ‘STY’ would satisfy the lads who have a compulsion to form a sausage fest choir and belt out Oasis songs. Take note, future employers - these all fit the criteria of being succinct and snappy enough to fit on a neon sign at minimal expense, something which needs to be taken into account.
Forget about employing rejects from The Apprentice and jumped-up promoters, I’ll churn out crappy club names all day for you. Hell, get me a building team and we’ll do the interiors as well. My current favourite concept is a three storey warehouse called “Slide”, which would feature free lube and several enormous chutes for dumping revellers from the upstairs windows into the smoking area. If that isn’t the sort of thing that somewhere like Blackburn or Peterborough needs in this era of economic woe then I don’t know what is.