There's all sorts of information around about clubs, but most of it's to do with dance music - house, garage, as well as a few 'novelty' discos. But what if you want something a little more rock'n'roll? Well, London has a great alternative music scene and there's loads of great nights out1.
Before we begin on the indie clubs themselves, here's a couple of tips for those of you trying it out for the first time. First of all, the dress code isn't quite the same as dance clubs. Feel free to glam up or grunge down to your heart's content. Indeed, there are a few places where the only dress code is that you don't wear the likes of smart shirts that you need to get in to other places. Another thing is, don't be scared. The cheekbones may be slightly frightening and the place may be more dimly lit than the average unopened Egyptian tomb, but you don't tend to get the attitude you get at some dance clubs. You'll also find it's generally a friendly atmosphere although some places can be a bit cliquey.
Mondays at The Annexe, Dean Street, Soho
'Trash' is a favourite on the indie club scene. DJs James and Erol tend to play the glammy Suede and Manics stuff, but you never know if they might slip in a Britney Spears track or maybe even 'Indie Jungle', a classic track mixed live with a jungle beat. You may be skeptical, but wait until you hear Blur's 'Tender' with a multi-beat-per-minute drum backing, it's hilarious, sublime and distinctly groovy. The biggest thing that you'll spot about Trash is just how much of an effort the crowd make, you'll think you've walked on to the set of the latest Pulp video or something. It can get very packed, though, but the venue, the people and the music make for a fantastic night.
Tuesdays at Camden Palace, Camden High Street, Camden
In the heart of Camden Town, Feet First is always well worth it. Jonathan and Eko play all sorts of music from Weezer to Pulp, although it tends to be the heavier end of the indie spectrum, so expect to hear the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo and Feeder as well as that week's Xfm radio station's playlist. The thing that sets Feet First apart from the rest is the live set. A band, normally one you would have actually heard of, plays a set of about half an hour's length at about midnight. Sometimes the reaction is to basically rock out, sometimes it's to look from a balcony of this enormous venue with curiosity. Whatever, this is a real quality night, which isn't surprising when you know it's by far the capital's longest running indie night.
(Previously known as Popscene) Fridays at Le Scandale, Berwick Street, Soho
Popscene's roots are happily in baggy music of the early 1990s and this comes through in what they play. Going from the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, through KLF and Chemical Brothers, to the latest tracks by Primal Scream and Ian Brown, the emphasis here is on the groove. Popscene was once a firm favourite at the LA2 club, and after moving around a bit it has finally set up shop in Le Scandale, a good old venue that once (but sadly no more) had the DJ sit in an open top car. You get some good mixes here; favourites including 'Loves Like A Fountain on Top of Fools Gold'. Incidentally, this is apparently quite a well-known club around the world.
Saturdays at The Dome, Junction Road, Tuffnel Park
This is a great place to start out for the 'beginner' and the monthly 'Madball' downstairs is popular with mosh-lovers2 and indeed the whole thing is well-loved by the look of the massive queues you often see outside. The place still looks like your primary school hall, though.
Saturdays at The Underworld, Camden High Street, Camden
Located just across the road from Camden Town tube station, under the rather huge World's End pub, this club normally starts not long after the Saturday evening gig has finished there - normally once the gig crowd has been kicked out. The music's alright, the venue's alright and the atmosphere is alright. The whole night adds up to 'alright'. Nothing more, nothing less. Another good one for finding your feet though.
Club Metro, Oxford Street
Indie Pounder at Club Metro is fun because it plays a fair bit of Manics and Mansun. However, they also pollute it with mod tosh. If you are a mod, you won't mind and the whole point about this particular night is that it's nice and cheap.
Jet Black and Bleached
Monthly (Friday) at HQ's, Camden Lock, Camden Town
'Jet Black and Bleached' (monthly) at HQ's (hidden at the back of Camden lock) is a top do as well with a decent mix of punk and glam, so expect to get your Rachel Stamp and New York Dolls mixed in. The website is where you can find out when the night's on next.
Saturdays at The Macadam Building, Surrey Street, Charing Cross
First of all, this is in the student union bar of Kings College, so expect lots of students. Second, the one thing you hear about this place is the view of the Thames, which is fantastic, but up in a room away from the dance floor where all the seats are always taken up. The music is not all that great although it won't stop you dancing when you're drunk out of your tiny mind on cheap booze.