1. Brand awareness
“What makes a really good club different from a merely good club? The merely good club will find you with huge billboards and advertising, but the really good club you have to seek out yourself. High visibility doesn’t necessarily attract the best people, and you can’t have a great night out without good company. There’s no neon sign at the entrance to Drama Park Lane, which is the opposite of glamorous. And look at our entrance; you have to go through a parking lot to get into the club. We learned this reserved approach to outward appearance from [legendary NYC club] Studio 54. They were one of the first ones who didn’t do much promotion of their club. It was word of mouth.”
2. The best DJ line-ups
“Anyone can book a star DJ, especially big clubs with thousands of revelers. But you can tell a top club by the popularity of its DJs in relation to its capacity. In 2016, we had big names like Guy Gerber and Major Lazer [whose “Lean On” is the second most-streamed song on Spotify with around 900 million hits] for a crowd of 300.
That way, you know artists are enjoying their gigs at a given club. When Major Lazer’s Diplo played here, he spent the entire night—in between DJing—Snapchatting our performers. And having someone like him, who has seen pretty much everything, doing that speaks for itself.”
3. A top-notch sound system
“Don’t get too impressed by size: You can’t see a good sound system, you have to feel it. Test it on the dance floor. What does the sound feel like? Do you have to roar in the ear of the person you’re dancing with? Both would be signs of poor sound.
We have a fully immersive Funktion-One sound system, and because of our L-shaped layout, we have more speakers than most clubs. What was important for us during its installation was that every point in the club would have top-end sound and you’d never hear any fluctuations.”
4. Elements of surprise
“You work hard, stuck on your hamster wheel five days a week. What do you want on the weekend? You want to escape. You want to be surprised. And that’s exactly what a top club should offer.
It’s not unusual at Drama Park Lane for stars like Idris Elba to grab the microphone and start rapping. Or for Rita Ora to be dancing at the decks. Or for Usain Bolt to decide to storm the decks all of a sudden and play some hip-hop tunes. Why do they do it? It’s not because they’re bound by any contract. It’s because, just like all the other people in our club, they’re enjoying that anything-ispossible party moment.”
5. Length of the line
“No one wants to spend the night outside instead of on the dance floor. That said, avoid any club without a line. You wouldn’t eat in a restaurant with only one person inside, and it’s the same with a club. To cut a long story short, if there’s no line, it’s a pretty clear sign that people don’t actually want to be at the venue.
My recommendation is that if you want to get into DPL, show up by 10:30—half an hour before the doors open— as there’ll be 100-plus people in the line by 11. The dress code is smart casual. If you look good, we’ll let you in.”
“In this fast-moving business, it’s often impossible to make conclusions about a club’s quality based on its history. Our club is quite young; it’s only been going for a year and a half. So what to do if you’re a man about town? Check out the club’s location, because a venue is usually a reflection of the area it’s in. With regard to DPL, ours is the only club on Park Lane, the most expensive street on the Monopoly board. The club is right beside Hyde Park, in the basement of the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel. There’s not a lot more to be said about how exclusive DPL is.”
“There’s no single look that marks out a top club. But one thing that all world-class clubs have in common is the idea of being a work in progress, so regulars feel they’re having a brand-new experience every time. When you enter DPL, it’s almost like walking into a gallery.
Every three months we invite an artist, such as British pop-art icon Ben Levy, to change the club’s look with installations, as we believe art has a very viable and important connection to hospitality. Also, we have the coolest bathrooms you will ever see. They were designed by an artist named Doodle Man. It’s a fully immersive toilet-art experience!”
8. Size and intimacy
“When people talk about top clubs, they often think of these massive venues in Ibiza that are full of thousands of people every night. But I believe that most millennials prefer to spend time in more intimate spaces than in these massmarket clubs.
At the end of the day, club size is also the reason why celebrities such as Drake and Andy Murray have made repeat visits to DPL. It’s cozy here, and they feel at home.”