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School Disco (London)
Member Name: robkingston
School Disco (London)
Date: 15/11/01, updated on 15/11/01 (663 review reads)
Advantages: Ultimate nostalgia trip, A feast for the eyes (for blokes), Great atmosphere
Disadvantages: Bloomin' hot!, Pricey drinks
School Disco is a genuine clubbing phenomenon. Started just two years ago by DJ Bobby Sanchez - who got the idea for a cheesy retro night after he was sacked by a more po-faced club for daring to drop a Shakin' Stevens tune into the mix - it has grown from humble beginnings in a back-street restaurant to be featured on TV, in magazines, even in The Guardian, for goodness' sake.
Such is its success that it now runs twice a week in London - on Fridays at the Hanover Grand and on Saturdays at Po Na Na in Hammersmith (what used to be the Palais) - and has even spread to Dublin (at the Ambassador Theatre). It recently started up in Leeds and Nottingham too, but these seem to have been suspended for the time being. There's also a New Years party at the London Arena, with a special guest appearance by The Human League.
So what's the secret of its success? Two things, I guess: nostalgia for the tunes of our childhood, and (sorry, but it's true) that whole male fantasy thing about girls in school uniform. I know, I know, it's deeply sad.... so sue my Y chromosome. The formula is simple - school uniform is obligatory, and the music is pure cheese on toast. From TV theme tunes (Grange Hill, Grandstand) to disco anthems by Nena, The Human League - christ, even Falco - you'll feel 15 again.
The main venue, Po Na Na, works very well. Although, in keeping with the rest of this chain, it has some weird Moroccan decor, the place is so overrun with schoolkids that it doesn't matter. There is a huge raised dancefloor in the middle, which is absolutely heaving, and comfy sofas around the edges for when it all gets too much. The good news for the blokes is that the girls seem to outnumber the boys, about 60:40 at least. In fact blokes seem to come off best all round: the girls seem to make a great effort and generally look fantastic, whereas the blokes mostly stick to the white shirt/black trousers and a tie look.
out for special guests and celebrities - recent guests have included Erkan Mustafa (Ro-land off Grange Hill) and even the Rainbow puppets! Photos from each night are posted on the Schooldisco.com website - make sure you check it after the event to see if you're pictured! You can also request a song on the website.
My only gripes are, firstly, the air conditioning (or lack thereof) at Po Na Na. It is absolutely sweltering. Secondly, the drinks are expensive - about £3.50 a bottle, and bottled water is also pricey. But hey, you're in London!
Other things to bear in mind:
*Book early: it's now ticket-only (you can no longer get tickets on the door) and often sells out 2 or 3 weeks beforehand.
*Where to go beforehand? Well, Hammersmith on a Saturday night is full of groups of people in school uniform - you won't feel out of place - but a good place is Hop Poles on King Street. They play cheesy tunes to get you in the mood.
*School uniform is a must. No tie, no entrance (girls as well as boys). Trainers are OK.