The Null Device


The latest nightspot in the old Sloane heartland of Chelsea is Maggie's Nightclub, a club inspired by Margaret Thatcher's decade in office. Maggie's includes photos of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (I wonder whether there are any of her close friend General Augusto Pinochet), and speakers in the bathroom play a loop of the audiobook of the Iron Lady's diaries. The club has a £15 entry price and £250 fee for a table, and may or may not be ironic:
So, I ask the club's co-owner, Charlie Gilkes, is this the nocturnal equivalent of a neo-liberal manifesto? No, no, no, argues the Old Etonian, who opened Maggie's with his business partner Duncan Stirling earlier this year. "It's not a Tory club," he says carefully, but rather a tribute to the 80s – a bit of "childhood nostalgia for the decade of our birth". The reference to Britain's most divisive politician, he says, is tongue-in-cheek. "I know she's divisive, but I do admire her. She's a leader."
In this 80s, Thatcher-era themed club, bottles of champagne signed by the Iron Lady go for £5,000, but I make do with a Ferris Bueller Fizz, priced £10.50. A Super Mario mural adorns another facade and every table in sight has been made to look like a giant Rubik's cube, while a Neil Kinnock figurine takes pride of place next to Gilkes's own childhood collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Regular attendees apparently include Adam Ant and Tony Hadley, frontman of Spandau Ballet, who soundtracked part of the Iron Lady's reign. It's not clear what the playlist is: I'm guessing it'd be heavy on the 1980s yuppie wine-bar sophistisoul, include a bit of Bryan Ferry, perhaps some Stock/Aitken/Waterman chart pop to get people dancing, and the odd piece by Lord Lloyd-Webber in the chill-out room, with perhaps a Billy Bragg tune thrown in for irony. (Momus' Don't Stop The Night would also be a good ironic fit, though might be a bit obscure.)

Perhaps in ten years' time, someone will open a place in Islington named Tony's, which will play only Britpop, D:Ream and the Spice Girls, and have an ironic map of Iraq on one wall.

There are 4 comments on "Maggie's":

Posted by: Greg Wed Nov 24 10:33:43 2010

That's a very specific aspect of the 80s they're reviving.

Posted by: acb Wed Nov 24 11:19:00 2010

Yes, a very south-eastern-English spivvish yuppie triumphalism, with or without ironic detachment.

I should probably have added Momus' <i>Don't Stop The Night</i> to the playlist, but it'd probably be a bit too obscure.

Posted by: Greg Thu Nov 25 00:04:31 2010

Given that, after 'The Social Network', software is the new pop culture, an early-80s theme club could focus on the rise of SQL.

"select drink from bar where type = 'beer' limit 1"

Tony's could offer a web interface via Netscape Navigator.

Posted by: acb Thu Nov 25 08:39:24 2010

An SQL query walks into a bar, goes up to two tables and says "mind if I join you?"

Also, if you had a retro tech-themed bar, would it be in an imaginary parallel history in which the nerds were always the cool guys, or would it ironically nod to the social order of the pre-dot-com era, in which people who were interested in computers were considered a bit odd, like trainspotters or stamp collectors?