“ 3 Coventry Street, Leicester Square, W1. „
When it come to clubs and pubs I'm an eternal student and always will be. I like to feel comfortable with my surrounding and abhor pretentiousness clubs and bars. I would rather have a nice cosy pub where I can get a seat and chat to my friends or have fun and make a bit of a fool of myself to some cheesy music in an indie or cheese club than try to hard at a place that is up its own bottom. I've never been a real clubber preferring indie, rock and cheese clubs and could not differentiate between handbag house and happy hardcore if my life depended on it. So why was I at Cafe De Paris, an "excluisive2"venue beloved of the celebs and wannabes last Saturday night?
Cafe De Paris is very much a misnomer. Its not a pavement establishment on the banks of the Seine selling yummy pastries. Instead it is an opulent, elegant nightspot on Coventry Street, just off Piccadilly in London's West End. I had read about Cafe De Paris's heritage whilst reading a book on the Monopoly Board. Cafe De Paris was very much the place to go to in the inter war period and just after with the glitzy glamorous clientèle including the future Edward VIII, Cole Porter Princess Margaret, Orson Wells, Vivian Leigh and Liberace. It was one of the only entertainment venues open during World war two and sadly eighty people were killed when a bomb hit the club. Only the Moulin Rouge and the Hacienda night clubs have as many credentials (I would have loved to go to the Hacienda in its prime but now its apartments like every other building with a heritage). When I was invited to a friend's birthday party at the Cafe De Paris I had to accept the invitation as I was so intrigued by the club and wanted to follow in the footsteps of the great and th good (oh and Gazza!)
Cafe De Paris is open 6pm to 3am, firstly as a restaurant then as a club. We arrived just before 11 so I can not comment on the restaurant aspect of the Cafe De Paris. There is a menu on the website and it seemed to be fairly expensive but in keeping with prices with other up market places
in London's West End.
Entry is not exactly cheap. My friend had booked a guest list so it cost us £15 to get in before 11. Normally it is £20 without a guest list place or after 11. This to me is quite expensive for a club night without any extras such as a live band or any food or drink. They do have Burlesque nights where the tickets are £25 in advance and £40 on the door. This maybe better value for money due to the entertainment provided.
Dressing to impress is the key to getting into Cafe De Paris. There is a strict dress code with no sportswear allowed and it is strictly over 21st only. . Guys seemed to be in smart shirts or even in suits whilst girls seemed to be in varied states of undress. Its the type of place where the skimpier the better Is the rule. To quote a line from Cabaret (very appropriate as the Musical is set during the heyday of Cafe de Paris )"The boys are beautiful, the girls are beautiful" ) I must admit although I had put a nice summer dress on and my best shes I felt a bit chubby and dowdy half way through the night and had thoughts of what am I doing here!
The venue itself is very impressive. It reminded me of an old theatere maybe even the Muppet theatre done out in swathes of red velvet and bands of gold topped with ornate chandeliers. I really did feel like Cinderella arriving at the ball (even though I felt like Cinderella in her normal circumstances later on in the evening) The dance floor is not the biggest and there is a stage up front. Surrounding the dance floor there are private booths that retail at £500 a go. We sneakily tried to sit down at one but were soon shooed away , since we had not paid. Being the plebs that we were we had to stand up or dance the whole evening even when my feet were killing me.
I was a bit concerned beforehand about the music. As said I'm not one for dance music particularity but was more relaxed when arriving they were playing Ace of Base's "All that She wants". The music seemed to be a bit of house, a bit of reggae, a bit of R and B with some indie numbers jazzed up thrown in near the end and even a bit of Queen! . I was pleasantly surprised by the music and found myself getting lost in it and enjoying it. It did not seem too hardcore and there certainly was no thump thump bleep bleep type of music. I'm not sure this is a true clubber's haven, although Mark Ronsn's sister was djing there the following Saturday. Cafe De Paris is a place to be seen and to pose.
There was some entertainment with dancers on the podiums either side of the stage. This provided much hilarity between my friend and I, as we made catty comments about the girls dress sense. One seemed to be wearing control style big knickers and a bikini top (did she forget her skirt?) whilst the other one was wearing her tracky bottoms with her crop top!! One thing that was pretty cool was when they played the Thunderbird's theme tune and they had fireworks and confetti streaming from the ceiling but even this was not worth the £15 entrance fee.
Dancing is thirsty work but don't be too thirsty or drink in the pub be forehand. You certainly will not get tipsy without a trust fund or a Z list celeb's contract with Heat or perhaps find a rich suitor. (None were on offer to me. The guy that tried to chat me up was not my type at all and all the nice looking blokes seemed to be dancing with their mates. Its always the way!). If I rememberer rightly soft drinks and juices were £2.50 to £3 and a vodka and cola was £8. ( I could just about buy a bottle of Smirnoff for that. How can they charge that much when the Sports Cafe down the road is charging £1 for a vodka and coke. Its ridiculous). Cocktails were £9. i hate to thinkl how much the champagne was. Proably a day's wages for me. I ordered a non alcoholic cocktail priced £5. I pointed to the one I wanted, as it was difficult to talk to the bar tender. The one I wanted was mango and passion fruit sort of tropically but I got one which was raspberry and Red Bull. Oh well at least it kept me awake and dancing through the night. I could not be bothered asking for another one so drank the one I had which was ok but a bit sweet.
I was slightly disappointed with the loos. They were not as grand as I thought they might be. They seemed to be bog standard if you excuse the pun. I've seen nicer in an Indian restaurant I have been to recently. There was a seat but the attendant (with her range of sweets, make up and perfume at a price) was unhappy with us sitting down when my friend tried to do my make up.
I must admit I did enjoy my glamorous evening at Cafe De Paris. It was an experience I will never forget. It is an impressive building and it was nice mixing with model types and city boys but I doubt I will go back. Its just not worth the £15 entrance fee and I like having somewhere to sit which is not £500 a go and drinks that I don't have to take out a mortgage on. Its back to Weatherspoons for me!
I'm giving it three stars and recommending it but only as a one off,
Cafe de Paris,
3 - 4 Coventry Street,
I was given an invitation to cafe de Paris while minding my own business shopping in London. The invitation said two friends and I were invited as part of a hand picked crowd of modelratti and glitterati, to come to an opening night at cafe de Paris. After about a day of deciding whether or not this invitation was actually legitimate we decided to give it a go. We arrived to quite a short queue which is always a good thing when wearing your latest stiletto heels, we got in for free because of this invitation though I think usually the entry price can be anything from £15 upwards. Our first stop was to the loos, there were only two which seemed odd for such a large club, but we were greeted by a lady carrying perfume and lollypops while we waited. The loos were clean though a bit cramped, also there was a unisex sink, which was very odd as you felt you should be shooing the men away. When we entered the actual dance floor there seemed to be no one dancing just people chatting on the side lines, though within about half an hour the dance floor was full. Luckily I had had a few drinks before I came out, as the drinks were £21 for 3 vodka and cokes, very pricey by my standards! We had a good night, the music was house with a few anthems mixed in and there was generally a good atmosphere. I would highly recommend anyone who is given an invitation in the street or has the money spend, to go for a night out here!
I've been to The Cafe de Paris maybe three times, once as a fresher event, once on an ordinary night, and once on the 'Storm night'. The venue is stunning. It's a full on attempt at over stated opulence, and they do it pretty well. A broad circular balcony overlooks the dance floor, some seated areas, the stage and a bar below. It's supposedly members only, but that I think is arbitrarily imposed. The University night was brillant, with a unusually well dressed crowd giving it their all. The other nights were alot worse. There is no shortage of extremely attractive women. Also, as my title hinted at, lots of rich (or wannabe rich) people being poncified. They had no spirit, apart from an appreciation of either looking good or money. The music (sorry for writing so little on it, kinda an afterthought), is sexy and stylish - not hardcore dance like Trance or House, nor soft commercial pop, but more rythmic. Often has a latin or Jazzy flavour to it. I prefer trance, but respect the stuff at Cafe de Paris for its easy going 'lets just go all out for style'. A final anecdote. My friend was approached by a lady who could of easily been a model. He's not rich, but she asked for some champagne. He put an extremely expensive bottle on his credit card. They talked animatedly until... the bottle ended. She stood up and walked away without saying another word.