Thursday, June 28, 2012

Prohibition, 23rd Jun

Prohibition is a night run by Bourne & Hollingsworth who are supremos when it comes to alternative nightlife. As the name suggests, a night at Prohibition is a night that takes you back in time to the roaring 20s when alcohol was on the downlow and flappers were in their ascendant. They are incredibly popular and always sell out in advance. Doors to the secret location (revealed a couple of weeks prior) open at 8, entertainment starts at about 9 and the doors to the ‘speakeasy’ close at 2, which means that it’s quite a short night by most other clubs’ standards. It also means that you don’t want to make the mistake of drinking elsewhere until 11 and then turning up as you will have missed a lot of the action.

People are not only encouraged to dress in period costume, but you are told that entry without making an effort (ie avoid jeans and sneakers) isn’t allowed. The organisers probably don’t have to worry too much that anyone is going to take their chances with the dress code though, as the people who go clearly enjoy making an effort. It’s a great period of time to dress for - sexy, shimmering dresses and fun, feathery head gear for the ladies; pinstripes and flattering waistcoats for the gents.

This time the event was held in the glamorous Bloomsbury Ballroom. We arrived at about 9:30 and put our coats away. There was a trio playing in the hallway, and two rooms. 




One room had the main stage and dance area, with a bar. The second was showing silent movies (think Charlie Chaplin), had tables and chairs and also the gambling pit where you could try your hand at blackjack. Upon entry you were presented with a fake $100 bill which you then cashed in with the croupier for chips to gamble with. At least, that is the idea. Me and my party must have arrived at the wrong time as we didn’t get offered any money to gamble with, fake or not. I don’t really think this would have been a problem had we insisted on participating – it’s all about joining in and having fun. 

Cocktails and bottles of beer were the order of the day for drinks. Innocuous books were placed nonchalantly at the bar, but when 
you opened the first page, you could see the short cocktail menu. There were four or five to choose from, all priced at normal bar cocktail prices - ie £7.50. Except for the ‘signature’ cocktail at 
£8.00 - the Gatsby - which, along with one other, was served in teacups. Well, you don't want the feds busting in and sussing
you've got moonshine on the go! 

About an hour after we got in, the live entertainment in the main room started. I didn't dance as much as I'd hoped to this - I was too often waiting at the bar for our cocktails - the downside of having mainly cocktails to choose from is that they take longer to prepare, leading to longer queues leading to feeling like I’d missed out on some of the night. Just can’t resist the illicit booze! The Gatsby, incidentally I found very sweet and preferred the gin fizzes overall.

When the band were done DJs took up the reins to keep you going until the place closed, playing retro sounds right up to the 50s and 60s and by this point everyone was getting down and cutting a shine in the main room. The second room remained quieter, for those who needed a respite and to rest their feet, or who preferred the sophistication of dancing with Lady Luck on the blackjack table.

I thought Prohibition was fun and I’m glad I went. If I were to rate it out of ten, it would probably lose a couple of stars, though I can’t put my finger on why. I think, perhaps, that the Ballroom was a bit too big for the number of people. It’s nice not to be overcrowded, but a little intimacy helps build atmosphere. I will definitely try out some of their other nights as soon as I can though, such as the Blitz party, and the one I particularly like the sound of – the Belle Epoch. Bustier ahoy!

























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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.