An American's guide to London Clubs

Clubbing in the U.K. is, as you might expect, not all that different from clubbing in the U.S.A. or most places else.

It still involves people waiting too long in lines (or queues, as they are called here) paying too much for alcohol, listening to music so loud you can't hear the person next to you and trying to not look like you're too self-conscious to dance.

But there are few things travellers looking for club action should be aware of.

Beer Beware
British beer is significantly stronger than American beer. Knocking back a few Carlings will have a much stronger effect (i.e. get you wasted much quicker) that knocking back a few Bud. Which might be just what you're looking for, but just be careful you don't make yourself sick or take yourself out of the party too quickly.

E is for Energy
Many drinks are served, sometimes in a cocktail and sometimes pre-mixed, with an energy soda named Red Bull (or some knock off thereof.)

These drinks taste similar to Mountain Dew (which is all but impossible to find here, by the way.) and do give quite the hyperactive sugar boost. Also, since the drink is extremely caffeine-loaded, it will also thin your blood and make whatever liquor you're enjoying it with (almost always vodka) hit you much faster and stronger.

Again, this may be just what you're looking for.

Drug Dealing
Depending on where you're from, you may be surprised at the level of drug use in clubs, especially clubs that specialize in dance/techno music. It is not unusual for dealers to approach you and a shocking number of club bouncers deal on the side.

LondonNet is not going to lecture you on drug use, but be careful of what you are taking, don't mix it with alcohol, drink plenty of water and be careful not to overheat. If you think you're overdosing or got bad pills, tell a bartender. It's not like they haven't seen it all before.

Shoes or Sneakers?
Many clubs frown on sport shoes. Call the club or check our listing to make sure there is no dress code.

Dress Codes
Speaking of dress code, you may want to dress appropriately for whatever style of music you're going to enjoy, but overdoing it (ridiculously baggy pants at the techno club, way too expensive suit at the Mod club) will only ensure that you don't fit in.

Princess Minogue
Don't make fun of Kylie. It would hurt her feelings and that would make the British angry.

Early Birds
Arrive early, if possible. You'll pay less to get in, get a better chance at getting a table and the queue won't stretch out for miles.

Down In A Tube Station at Midnight
The subway (or tube, as its called here) quits running after midnight. Either bring enough money for a cab or memorize which bus will take you near home (both run all night.)

London is by and large a safe place, but if you want trouble you can find it. Don't bother the drunk soccer hooligans and don't walk by yourself in deserted areas at night.

Chill Out
Some people are surprised at how fast the drum ‘n' bass music can get. Don't hurt yourself by trying to keep up. If you get exhausted, most techno clubs have a chill-out room that plays more ambient-style music.

Go Loco
Some of the more tourist oriented clubs (i.e. anything in Leicester Square) get nothing but, duh, other tourists, who are sometimes so pushy and creepy they threaten to give their country a bad name. Try to find a smaller or less famous club so you can have a more authentic experience.

And lastly, British people are nowhere near as unfriendly as they have the reputation that precedes them.

In fact, many will be quite curious about your accent and will ask you many questions about America. Of course, with the music playing so loud you probably won't hear them.

Michael Tedder
(an American in exile for a semester)