“ Christchurch Road, Boscombe,Bournemouth, info: 01202 399922, Fridays „
Clubbing is one of my favouritest past-times in the Whole Wide World. Ever. No kidding, not even BLT sarnies and 6-1 demolitions of Arsenal come anywhere near in the enjoyment stakes. It’s the underlying foundation between my closest friends in Manchester, it’s what makes our weekends go round and it’s dragged us, though not exactly kicking and screaming, all over the country in pursuit of new experiences: uncharted territories, unexplored venues. Having said that, we’re mad for it but not Crazy so common sense usually restricts our expeditions to the North/Midlands. As a rule of thumb, if travelling time exceeds clubbing time then it’s not worth the hassle and Coalville is therefore about as far ‘south’ as we ever go. Nevertheless, rules are made to be broken and so it was that a couple of Fridays ago I ducked out of work at midday and set off down the M6, direction Slinky, the Opera House, Bournemouth. According to my trusty AA guide, Manchester-Bournemouth = 274 miles. Assuming I could do 70mph all the way, that’s a minimum of 4 hours. Throw in Birmingham and a long stretch of A roads and the reality edges towards 5 hours just to get there. Only this time, it didn’t matter because distance/cost was no longer a restraining factor now that we had a secret weapon against the voice of reason. Our trump card was a girl named Ginnie (she was never that fond of Virginia). Ginnie used to be a regular weekend companion but for various reasons had moved back down south. It was her birthday but various other reasons meant she couldn’t really come to us. Although she’d made new friends, she missed us and it would be nice to be together for the big day :-) That was the gist of the reasoning but although none of it is untrue, I suspect that for many of us, it was also a tidy excuse to throw reason to the wind and try something new, expensive and far away. A
bit like Christmas when your debts and financial limits are conveniently forgotten as you spend, spend, spend and resolve to sort it out in the New Year. Mañana, as they say. The Friday in question was the last one of January and those of you with a penchant for dates and weather may recall that it absolutely pissed it down the entire afternoon, with the result that the journey took 7 hours. Upon arrival, I fell into an armchair and curled up for half an hour, moaning to anyone who would listen and feeling extremely sorry for myself. My shoulders and ankles felt like, well, like I'd driven for 7 hours. The lesson learnt was that next time we’d set off in the morning not the afternoon and take longer breaks. Bournemouth is a seaside town and therefore chock-a-block with accommodation. We got a 7 bed flat for 2 nights for £110. Between 11 of us, that was £5 each a night – cheaper than my rent back home! Don’t be thinking that 7 beds = mansion with swimming pool. There was one bedroom containing 1 double and 2 single beds and the settees in the living room converted into another 4 places. But for a weekend like this, it’s more than sufficient – one room for those who want to get their heads down and one for those who want to party. Contrary to what well-meaning maths teachers tell you, 11 goes into 7 quite easily. There was even a TV provided albeit one so naff it was immediately obvious why it had never been stolen. BRING A STEREO unless you’re absolutely sure your place has one – in an unusual bout of forward thinking, someone had packed one and was duly kissed by all and sundry for having saved the weekend. I’d like to offer more guidance on accommodation but I didn’t organise it and I’m sure there’s lots more on offer to suit all kinds of budgets – just be aware that a weekend there might not be as expensive as you’d think.
http://www.bournemouth.co.uk will probably be of some use, the homepage telling you that it was awarded ‘Resort of the Year 2000’ by the English Tourism Council. A very kindly mother figure at the café where we had Sunday breakfast (ahem, lunch) advised us it was best to book well in advance during the summer but in January you can just show up and negotiate a deal with proprietors desperate to fill empty rooms. Right, I can sense some of you are getting itchy mouse fingers heading for that dreaded NU so let’s move on to the object of our desires for that weekend (after Ginnie of course): Slinky is to Bournemouth what Cream is to Liverpool, Gatecrasher is to Sheffield, the Sanctuary is to, er, Milton Keynes. It is THE focal point of the weekend for many a local and not-so-local devotee of that headache-inducing music characterised by the emission of a series of repetitive beats. Some quotes from http://www.slinky.co.uk/: <<<Awards for the Opera House: best large venue (SAS awards 1998) best discotheque and best venue for South West (BEDA 1999), nominated for best club and best club venue (Ericsson Muzik awards 1999), best discotheque of the year (Molson BEDA awards in 1998)… Coaches bring people from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, Basingstoke and Chichester. People have been known to come from Scotland, Newcastle and Liverpool just to visit Slinky… Slinky have now hosted events in Spain, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Usa, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Phillipines and Czechoslavakia>>> Tidy. Or that’s what we’d have said if all this had been read before going. We actually chose Slinky because it was the only dance club we’d heard of in that neck of the woods, and because Ginnie had heard from a friend of a friend that it was pretty good. Slinky starte
d in 1997 at the Bournemouth Opera House and took off with such success they soon opened up a sister-night in Bristol and, more recently, one in Birmingham (thanks to kittykat18 for info). The original venue is just as the name suggests. Another quote from the unashamedly back-patting website: “Originally the opera house was a theatre, it was then converted into a ballroom, but over time has housed a circus and is rumoured to have been used at one stage for public hangings! Gargoyles were built on the roof of the buildings opposite to protect them from the evil of the opera house building (back when entertainment was considered to be evil) and can still be seen there today.” The Opera House is situated in the town centre but Bournemouth isn’t that big so although our flat was near the outskirts, our taxi there cost £8 (between 6 of us) and at the end of the night, when fares are more expensive, £12 (between 4). Being on the high street, there is a McDonald’s just down the road as well as several late shops/off-licences so fags, chewing gum, cash withdrawals and whatnot can be done at the last minute. Entrance is £7 before 10.30pm, £10 after with £1 NUS discount all night. Even though it was hardly peak tourist season, we knew that Slinky pulled in people from all around the region so we phoned in on the drive down (being refused entry is no joke if you’ve trekked across the country). Guaranteed entry in advance costs £13 – about what Cream charges for normal entry but a substantial premium on the £6 that Tangled in Manchester normally costs. Ah well, better safe than sorry. Slinky Box Office = 0870 830 1414 (national rates) Info: 0870 830 1515 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or go through their website. The night runs from 9pm-3am (last entry 12.30am) - a bit on the early side so we made sure to get there from the beginning. We got to the door and the £6 extra weR
17;d paid was immediately vindicated when we saw the size of the standard queue (about 50 metres long). There was a separate queue to the left for pre-paid royalty i.e. us, and we strolled through without even getting searched. And there I was, looking forward to having some hairy Neanderthal pat down my inner thighs. Eurggh. The dress code is “no lager boys or tracksuits”. This is my favourite kind of door policy. It means the management is clued up enough to keep out the shell suit brigade and the beer monsters but not so far up their backsides that they only want Beautiful People (mentioning no names but Gatecrasher and God’s Kitchen are the worst poncey idiots for that kind of elitism - or at least they were the last time I went and I’ve not bothered returning even though I got in both times). Avoid tracksuits, trainers and blue jeans and you should be fine. The venue was about what I expected from an opera house - having known a few in my time obviously :p Plush, old fashioned surroundings that had obviously seen better days and the passage of time; wide, carpeted stairs with bannisters just begging you to slide down them (and wide, suited doormen just telling you not to). Massive canvasses attached to the ceiling around the bar areas created a billowy parachute effect - quite claustrophobic if you’re not fond of tight spaces but if you’re into clubbing then chances are tight spaces don’t bother you that much (please don’t shout at me if you’re the exception to the rule). All the ground floor seats had been removed to create one big dancefloor but the first level seating was left intact as a chill-out area so that you could go up and gawp over the balcony at the throng below (opera glasses optional). The second floor is home to ‘Cocoshebeen’. Although this is promoted as a separate night (drum'n'bass with guest & resident DJs & MCs), you d
on’t pay any extra to get in. We didn’t really explore it but there were plenty of people streaming in and out all night so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was as good as downstairs. On the third (and final, I think) floor was the cloakroom, possibly the most efficient I’ve ever seen. With two sets of stairs accessing it, there’s a one-way system with bouncers on both stairs to regulate the flow. The cloakroom staff were quick and at the end of the night knew exactly where to go. Believe me, this is unusual. The DJ’s were on the front stage where singers/actors plied their trade in bygone eras. They were only about 2 metres off the ground with a cloth covered table for their decks separating them from the the dancefloor, not like at some clubs where they’re practically in a bomb shelter, aloof from their adoring public. The guest DJ’s on the night were Guy Ornadel followed by Fergie. It’s quite rare that clubs will mix up styles in the same room: if you get a room full of punters who have been worked up into a frenzy by Ornadel, there’s no guarantee they’ll appreciate the change in style from Euro-trance to the hi-energy bouncy hard house that Fergie is all about. A rapidly emptying dancefloor is any promoter’s nightmare and they usually play it safe by having separate rooms (or even nights) for separate styles. The fact that this wasn’t done here indicated the promoters knew the crowd well and that the crowd were relatively broadminded in taste. On the website, the following seem to be regular guests, suggesting that the trance-to-hard-house tactic is a popular one: ....John Kelly ....Sonique ....Mauro Picotto ....Lisa Lashes ....Anne Savage The official capacity is 1,925 which is big but not massive and, just like the dress code, ideal for me. Within half an hour of getting in (and we
were there for about 9pm) the place was filled. A middle-ish crowd: lots of obvious teenagers but at 26, I didn’t feel the oldest either. Physical age doesn’t really matter though, what does is attitude and I’m pleased to say Slinky ranks up there with the best of them. As usual when in a new venue, I broke away from the others for a solo wander (not cos I’m an unsociable git but because they’re less willing to explore for the sake of exploring and more keen on staying together in one spot). Three times I sat down on the edge of a podium for a fag and to take in the scenery. Three times I had total strangers enquire within minutes as to my state of well-being and did I want any water/chewing gum/a go on their glowstick. Ahh, bless. At the risk of sounding a grumpy old [it’s not as good as it used to be] whinger, that hasn’t happened in a long time. Back when dance was a relatively new phenomenon, you’d expect that kind of looking-out-for-each-other spirit. As clubbing grew in popularity, people became less inclined to do so, perhaps because they’re afraid of it being interpreted as a come-on/chat-up. Friendliness aside, the whole place was alive with the music and each breakdown or kick-in was greeted with shouts and whistles. Two other signs as to how 'relaxed' a club is were present: blokes dancing with tops off (sorry girls, it’s an unequal world) and strangers offering you their drinks. Some of you might think the latter is risky – and you’d be right - but if it’s water, I sometimes accept. Something that really stuck out in my mind was the absence of the Walkway Phenomenon (no matter where you decide to stand and dance, it seems the rest of the club has chosen that patch as the main walkway to get from one side to the other). As Fergie wound down the last tune, the dancefloor was still practically full and with great reluctance we t
ore ourselves away. Once outside, our first thought was to get out of the cold and ‘home’ but one of the locals we got chatting to told us that during the summer, nothing beats heading down to the beach to welcome in the morning and nights often finish later for this purpose [cogs start turning in everyone’s heads... July did you say...] There was a taxi rank barely 50 metres away and we got three for our group within minutes. Indeed, other than the nightmare drive from Manchester, the entire day had fallen into place like a well-oiled machine. My only small gripe about the whole affair was the cost of drinks: *) £2.55 for a sickly sweet imitation of Red Bull – the name escapes me and I have no desire to track it down *) £2.30 for a bottle of water (although the cold water taps were on so you only had to buy this once) *) £5.50 for a double brandy *) £3 for a bottled beer Personally, I only drink water plus the odd caffeine/taurine beverage so other than buying birthday girl a drink and one round for the others, my bill for the night was only £4.85. Most of the others who travelled with me spent three figures that weekend, much of it due to the Slinky bar. [Having written that, I’ve realised this is from a Manc perspective. If you’re from London or the Expensive South, you’re probably scoffing at my Scrooge-like instincts. Like I care ;-p] On the drive back on Sunday (4 and half hours incidentally), we were unanimous that we’d return in the summer, possibly for a long weekend. See ya soon Bournemouth. ---------------- Some stuff on their website you may or may not find of interest: You can listen to Slinky radio on Friday nights on FM107.6 The Fire in Bournemouth and Galaxy 101 in Bristol Merchandise available: glowsticks, lighters, keyrings, pin badges, cd cases, record bags, stickers, car stickers, wallets, slipmats
, hooded sweaters, t-shirts, cd's, and baseball caps to name but a few Strange items found in lost property: teletubbies, rubber hammers, a rubber chicken, mobile phones, blow up dolls Final word from thequy: What's so strange about a mobile phone in lost property? Surely the website hasn't run out of things to say?!
I am one of those part time clubbers, who prefer the cheesy tunes to the hard house anthems, but on a visit to Bournemouth I was persuaded to go to Slinky's. I was very pleasantly surpised! It was only £5.00 to get in, and the dress code was relaxed, so trainers were okay. As i walked into the main room I was amazed by the site that hit me. The room is a massive Oval shape, with old style theatre seats in rows for people to sit and watch the dancing. The stage is front facing with a massive screen behind which displays wierd and wonderful pictures that move to the beat of the music! When I was there Brandon Black and Alex P were playing and although they have a hard style, they really get the crowd going. The attitude in Slinky was good, not too much bad attitude from people, everyone was there for the love of the music. There is a seperate room for alternative music, but this was a bit much for me as my whole body was vibrating to the drum n bass tunes, but it caters for everyones taste. The drinks are reasonably priced for a club, and the decor itself, with the statues and the general ambience is worth the entrance fee. Highly recommended, get yourself down there!