London Club & Bar Awards 2013

Licklist is all about a great night out. And what better way to experience not just one, but a whole host of amazing venues than at The London Club and Bar Awards. We’ve got all the winners right here; find out who they are later on...

The awards have been making a mess of respectable hotels for nearly 20 years, which means it’s only been allowed to drink for two years, but they seem pretty adept at it. The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane hosts the 2013 awards, offering up more swank and cream carpets than is strictly necessary for an overnight stay.

Mark Armstrong Organiser Mark Armstrong gets us up to speed on the most prestigious nightlife industry ceremony in the UK:

“London simply offers the most exciting and original entertainment in the world. We established The London Club and Bar Awards in 1994 to help celebrate that.

We’ve got club and bar owners, promoters, DJs, night time svengalis, dandy gentry and their entourage all here to enjoy a cocktail reception overlooking Hyde Park. Later in The Grand Ballroom, where we hold the awards show, you’ll see clips and live coverage depicting the current state of play in nightlife. Then of course there’s the after-party...

The entries and winners from categories such as Best DJ and Best Club are made by club-goers and a committee panel of newspapers, media partners and other social connoisseurs.”

The red carpet, rolled out like a rudely inviting tongue, is first trampled on by the high heels of Spearmint Rhino. A dozen golden sequined ladies get the paps papping and flapping, while we had a word with their black-suited leader, Seamus.

“We’ve got girls from all over the UK… we’re looking for a big night.” And are they here to win? (It is an awards ceremony after all…) “Winning is everything isn’t it? Yeah, but taking part in the nightclub culture here is very strong, we’ve got a tight community, which is what we’re all here for in the end.”

Seamus is right, the early part of the evening is much more like a business social, or a reunion of old friends. In the cocktail lounge the music is respectfully low while the big wigs of the club scene chat and check each other out. Alcohol sponsor Heineken are keen to ply us with refreshments as soon as we step in, but it’s not just lager friends - we have colourful bubblies, Sprizzante, and something that tasted like toffee but had passionfruit in it.

Snake Two large thrones take centre stage, as party people prove they’re ready for some kind of accolade. Oh, and did we mention there was a freakin’ snake? A latexed lady and her constrictor delighted and terrified – but if you stroked it you got a reward shot. I’m sure we’ve all been in similar situations at many clubs, though it wasn’t strictly speaking a “snake”.

And from rewards to awards: we’re summoned into the hall for the dining/clubbing/ceremony part of the evening – and it really is as full on as that.

The tables are adorned with bottles of Premium vodka, Krusovice (brewed since 1581 and owned by Czech royals don’t you know), Carbon Champagne (courtesy of Justin Berkman, former Ministry of Sound front-man) and party essentials such as glitter bombs and sparkly flares. It’s so tightly packed with half-filled glasses that there’s barely room for dinner. Waiters valiantly try to squeeze plated poussin next to people more interested in necking crystal skulls.

Lizzie Cundy. the WAG so waggish that she’s about to appear in “WAG: The Musical!” (no, really) popped over to see us and let us know her thoughts on the night… she didn’t sing them unfortunately.

“I spend most of my life in clubs… I’m a big fan of Mark Fuller, everything he does turns to gold.”

At which point Mark walks past – it’s almost like she knew he was there… That must mean it’s time to plug his new venue:

“We’ve got an opening tomorrow night, Retro Feast at Embassy Mayfair. It’s a social diner that serves food from my childhood.”

“It’s very friendly, you feel at home.” (Lizzie’s back) “We’re going to have fun tomorrow – and tonight!”

With so many parties to go to, Licklist would feel exhausted if it weren’t for the fact we’re hardcore party animals on a mission to constantly have the most fun possible – so there.

The awards themselves are heralded by a chorus of popping corks and cheers. A Sax man is jamming to the club beat with his LED flashing instrument, while a happy Scandinavian looking chap is drumming on luminescent tubes. Smoking shots sail overhead on underlit trays. Wiley cameramen weave in and out, projecting images of the bounciest party people on to large screens all around the room. The event team have created as much noise and anticipation as possible. Which means it’s time to introduce the host.

Comedian/actor Steve Furst (aka, that man from the Orange ads) returns to compere duties noting that he’s “as disappointed as you are. I’m the kind of person you don’t want in your club – a middle aged Jew… I’m currently in the West End in Matilda where I spend the night shouting at children, so tonight is no exception.” Fair play to Furst, he rattles through the awards and holds up to the baying crowd. We were, frankly, expecting some kind of riot to kick off, but we’ve seen much worse on Tuesday nights.

Discussing whether there would be any new awards this year, we’re told by Furst that there might have been “most non-committal toilet attendant”, but in the end they decided to just do the same as last year. So here we go – the results.

  • Outstanding Achievement to London Nightlife: Maddox
  • Best Night: Tuesdays @ Project
  • Best Promotions (two winners): Gennaro Salerno (Project), Pushca
  • Best New Boutique: Amika
  • Best Boutique: Cirque du Soir
  • Best Interior Design & Concept: Bodo’s Schloss
  • Best Bartender: Walter Pintus (The Ritz)
  • Up All Night Award: Nick Valentine (Author of “Clubs, Drugs and Canapes”)
  • Services to the Industry: Roger Michael, Roger Goodman
  • Best New DJ: John Cuesta
  • Best DJ: Kaveh
  • Best Late Night Bar: JuJu
  • Best Restaurant Bar: Nozomi
  • Best Bar: McQueen
  • Best Dance Club: Pacha
  • Best Gentlemen’s Club: Spearmint Rhino
  • Best Members Club: 2&8
  • Best Club: DSTRKT
  • Sexiest Host: Jake Parkinson-Smith

The award for Best Bartender was presented by scene legend Philip Sallon, rightfully dressed in something resembling a toga and sporting a Westwood globe. The legendary 80s Mud Club host isn’t shy about speaking his mind, and while it bucked the party trend for the night, he chatted to us about some serious thoughts he has on the club scene today:

“I think it’s in a dodgy state. I know it’s happening around Dalston… I think the sad epitaph on clubs is that socialism has gone out of fashion. Socialism and socialising go hand-in-hand, so togetherness has gone out of clubs. People are talking on the internet, they’re not having human contact.”

(Oops, is it something we did? No, you lot go out socialising loads right? We think he might change his mind once he actually discovers Licklist.)

“I blame capitalism… In the West End, sex and money are put on a pedestal, but in the East End they’re not - still it’s not as off-the-wall as I’d like it to be. I don’t mean to sound bitter and twisted, but it’s sad.”

And with that thought ringing in our ears, we dust it off, have another drink, and head off to the after-party at Project. Remember, it’s a Tuesday night. That means we’re heading out to a newly award-winning evening.

Project, tucked away in Fitzrovia, just off Oxford Street, has been fitted by world renowned architects. The multi-million pound overhaul has created several VIP sections with atmospheric uplighting along the floor and stunning LED visual systems. Not to mention the awesome sound technology which showcases their speciality: house music.

Post award revellers - hands in the air and fuelled by enough Dom Perignon to float a battleship – are entertained by top class DJs, live percussionists and a body popping, laser-fingered stilt walker.

Smoke canons blast the gyrating Hoi Pollio of London’s club scene and the party rocks ‘til the early hours, but that’s where our story ends, because anything else we could tell you is potentially incriminating. Now you know who the very best clubs today are – it’s time to go and experience them for yourself. Your night started here.

Love all at Licklist.

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