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The Flourmills / Easthill / Ashford / Kent / TN24 8PA / Tel: 01233 613333.

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      31.07.2006 15:11
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      In our hometown of Ashford, there aren't many places to go clubbing. Ok, in Ashford, there is ONE place to go clubbing at present. There is a new club opening in September but given the previous short-lived attempts at using that particular building as a nightclub, I doubt much will come of it. Sooo, Liquid, our one existing nightclub is the one I'll be telling you about here.

      Liquid is part of a chain, owned by the Luminar group. There are branches all over the place, although the only other one I have been to is in Windsor, Berkshire. A quick peek at the website tells me that there are further branches in the following towns as well.

      Aberdeen
      Basingstoke
      Blackburn
      Cardiff
      Gloucester
      Hanley
      Harlow
      Ipswich
      Jersey
      Lancaster
      Luton
      Mansfield
      Newbury
      Norwich
      Nuneaton
      Oldham
      Peterborough
      Rotherham
      Shrewsbury
      Sunderland
      Sutton
      Wigan
      Wrexham

      Liquid in Ashford is at the bottom of East Hill- where Ashford Girls School is. To drive there, you will need to use the main ringroad, or come off the motorway at junction 10 of the M20 and head towards the town centre. Liquid used to be the old flour mills, so the building is quite tall and easily visible. There is ample parking if you are driving. For pedestrians, you can get there by going to the bottom of town (its on a hill) and crossing the road after Blockbusters. If you are walking and not sure where to go, it will be pretty obvious between 10 and 11pm, when millions of scantily clad youngsters pour out of the pubs (mostly the County) and stumble down the hill.

      The Ashford branch is split into to clubs "Liquid" and "Life". Liquid is upstairs, with a large dancefloor, champagne bar and normal bar (for commoners like myself). Life is downstairs with well, pretty much the same layout. Both areas have a fair bit of seating so if you're tired from dancing, you can pull up a pew. The club is decorated in blue, white and silver (Liquid, see?!) and the dancefloor upstairs has two podiums (only for Liquid's own dancers, don't even try and climb in and dance, the bouncers will stop you in seconds, so my friends say, ahem!). Life downstairs is a lot more laidback and while there is still a dance floor, there is more seating and its generally where people go for conversation rather than dancing.

      On a Monday evening, Life is open and entry is free. I don't tend to go much on a Monday as I work all week 9 to 5. When I do go, it's only during university holiday times, and so is full of schoolmates of mine- which I generally consider to be a bad thing as I'm not keen on a lot of the folk I went to school with. The music played is a mixture of cheesy pop, RnB and dance (generally chart stuff). Thursday nights are also quite studenty, but based upstairs in Liquid, and entry is £3. The music is pretty much the same.

      Friday and Saturday nights are for over 20s and it costs between £3 and £6 to get in, depending on how early you go, and whether or not you hold a liquid card. The Liquid card is a free loyalty card that means you get postal offers and a pound off standard entry fee, you can sign up by asking in the branch. It is probably worth getting one if you plan on going to Liquid more than once in your life. When I went to the Windsor branch I managed to use my Ashford card and paid £8 entry rather than £10 (well, Windsor is a lot posher than Ashford). Both bars are open at the weekends, so you can choose what you want to listen to, generally cheesy anthems downstairs and RnB and dance upstairs. I normally

      The bouncers are quite strict and do ID checks, rather than letting just anybody in. Sometimes they check you, sometimes they don't. I usually only tend to get ID-ed when with my school friends as they are all teeny tiny and look younger. They also try not to let anyone too wasted into the club. Once my friend had her uni mates down and we really struggled to let them let us in as one was a bit wobbly. They let her in but cautioned us that if she is seen with a drink in her hand, we're all out on our ear. I think that it's a good thing that they don't let just anyone in, as they are showing that they just as interested in protecting their clientele as they are in making money.

      They do under-18s nights, where obviously the bar serves only soft drinks, but I get the impression these are a bit chavvy as my snotty little sister turns her nose up at the idea of going and she's an 'emo' or whatever it is trendy kids call themselves nowadays.

      Generally, nights at Liquid are pretty samey. The music is always the same, it may as well be a CD on shuffle, think of the money they would save on DJs. Having said that, its generally classics that they play, so we still dance without too much complaining. I have been there for the past 3 weeks running now and a million times since turning 18. I can usually get away without spending too much money in Liquid as I tend to go with my friend Stuart and my boyfriend Dave who are both grown-ups with real jobs and so can afford to buy me (the poor student) drinks. Drinks are usually half price or on BOGOF from 10pm to 11pm so it's worth going early for the savings. I spent £30 on Saturday night which was more than I spent the previous two weeks, but this is porbably more down to the cocktail bar we went to beforehand.

      There is a VIP area which can be booked for birthdays and special occasions. If it's your 21st or 18th birthday and you are a member you usually get vouchers in the post for access to the VIP area, in which the music is quieter and there are comfy sofas and a relatively quiet bar, and another set of toilets. AND there-s a chocolate fountain at the bar with marshmallos to dunk- YUM! We were in here the other week when it was my mates sisters' birthday (we only really tagged along for the free entry and free birthday drink, then buggered off to revel with the commoners in the main club).

      I am not sure about disabled access, though I have seen people upstairs on the dance floor in wheelchairs, which would suggest that there is a lift hidden away somewhere. In fact, I have just text Dave to ask if he knows, and he's just told me that he told me off for putting a bottle in front of it the other day. So that's a yes then, there is a lift. That says something about my sobriety on that occasion! Moving on...

      In Liquid, I usually drink VK Ice alcopops because it's easier to drink from bottles if you're dancing, and you can keep your hand of the top to make sure your drink doesn't get spiked. These are between £1.50 and £3 depending on whether or not it is happy hour. There is a full bar though, with wine, beer (bottled and on tap), spirits and shooters. Bottled water is £1.20 and is usually a must- although the club is air conditioned, it still gets pretty hot if you're really going for it on the dance floor. If its your birthday (or if you pretend that it is) you can normally get a bottle of 'champagne' (a.k.a sparkling wine) from the DJ, but the bar rarely has enough champagne glasses, and so I have been spied there on a number of occasions with the bottle poised elegantly at my throat!

      On Fridays, there is the "Stars behind the Bars" special night, where 'celebrities' serve behind the bar. Last week was some bird off Shipwrecked, and the week before was someone from Cutting It- I missed that because the alcohol was clouding my vision. I wouldn't have recognised her anyway though I am sure. Most nights the club is open til 2am, with the exception of Saturday, when it closes at 3am.

      The clientele at Liquid are generally young people from the vicinity, such as my good self and my friends. Despite Ashford's repuation as being a bit pikey, it's not really that bad. There are very rarely fights in Liquid and if there are, they get broken up pretty quickly. There is the odd group of older people- my friend's mum and aunt were there the other week, so if you're older, and like a night out but are worried about looking out of place, you won't. Liquid's alright for pulling for you Singletons- too there's a scattering of Beautiful People but if you get desperate there's always an obliging candidate. Beer Goggles ahoy!

      I tend to not go to Liquid if I have to drive home, because it's not that much fun when you're sober. That makes me sound like a bit of an alky I guess, but nights out with friends where they are all drinking and you're on the water are pretty boring, and then you realise you're in Liquid, in Ashford, its enough to provoke serious boredom and irritation at the reveller around you. Because places to go out in Ashford are pretty thin on the ground, and I don't want to start totally hating Liquid, I usually only go if I can stay at a friends and have a few drinks, and so only at weekends. That way the night is nearly always a good one, and you just don't notice that the music seems to playing on a loop. A decent night out is really what you make of it, and depends mostly on the company so I always enjoy myself there because I am with my fab friends, though I doubt Liquid will ever win any awards for 'best clubbing experience'.

      There is a website for the Club though it is a bit vague:

      http://www.ukcn.com/clubs/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=0&tabid=1451&poid=88.
      You can buy tickets, view photos (there is horrendous one of me that I just spied but I am not telling you where), and look at upcoming events.

      The phone Number for the Club is 01233 613333

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