I noted that Object were recently trying to raise objections to the licensing of clubs in Islington. This of course failed and every licence applicant was successful, due to the fact that the venues are well run and that Islington Council take a mature, business like view on these matters. As I always said, I want this blog to be about more than fighting prohibitionists, so this is the first of a new series of articles about clubs that are well worth visiting and we start with The Horns.
The building was once the home to the Bar Aquarium, a venue that existed somewhat uneasily with its neighbours, all of which by the way have expressed their gratitude to the owners of The Horns as the anti-social behaviour that was once a regular occurrence has all but disappeared since new management took over and The Horns opened.
The building itself has been subject to considerable investment, which is still ongoing but we can see from the photographs what can be achieved by people with a strong vision of what makes a comfortable venue and a no compromise attitude to quality. Strip clubs are not just about dancers, there is a mix of factors that must be in place for a venue to be successful, build a community and make people want to return….
This shot of the length of the bar was taken at Christmas, hence the decorations, but you can still see the thought and work that was put into making the The Horns a customer centred experience. The quality of the carpentry is superb throughout and the bar is almost a work of art and the bar stools are actually comfortable. The stage is in the background.
|The Horns is a world away from the 'seedy' venue stories that Object would have people believe....|
Perhaps what makes The Horns unique is the private dance area. Again the attention to detail is superb and I have to say that it is almost certainly one of the most comfortable and well appointed dance areas that I have ever seen. Note the cushions on the sofa and the wall paper as well.
|The private dance area is immediately adjacent to the bar.....|
The range of drinks is once again well considered with a good selection of beers, lagers and ciders such as Budweiser, Becks Vier, Stella, Stella Black, Guinness, Boddingtons as well as Olde England Cider all on tap. One area where pubs can let themselves down is wine, because it tends to be awful. The Horns has a nice selection of quality wines that do not give you a hangover the following day. Best of all, everything is available at pub prices.
Being a smoker, one thing that I really appreciate is the smoking area to the rear of the premises, in this way I can enjoy a ciggie in peace and it keeps the pathways outside clear of customers puffing away desperately until they can go back inside.
Bar staff and management can make or break a venue and the team at The Horns is managed by Michael who has to be one of the most approachable bar managers I have ever met and this attitude is matched by the rest of the bar staff. For a venue such as this, experienced and competent security staff are a must and the venue benefits from having Alex, (customers of Browns will know him well) one of the most level headed and experienced doormen in London, managing the door. Having Alex sitting outside ensures that people both inside and on the street are safe and his lack of interest in football makes him very interesting to talk to.
Well it’s a strip pub and it has girls, but once again The Horns scores points. It goes without saying that they are all very attractive, but they almost instinctively know when you want company or just to be left alone and this makes The Horns a very relaxing experience.
The Horns benefits from having real live DJs and the selection of music played in between dance performances is a grown selection that spans three decades and happily ignores contemporary radio playlists. Put another way, its one of the few places where I have heard John Martyn being played and better still a Nine Inch Nails song that wasn’t ‘Closer’.
Over this year, the venue will be developed. A first floor bar will be opened that will not feature dancers, but will incorporate all of the plus points of the ground floor in terms of decor. Perhaps most exciting of all, the summer will see the roof bar open, obviously there will be no dancers, but it will make a great place for a summer drink. I will keep you informed of developments as time passes.
Olympic Visitor Guidance
The Horns is not a lap dancing club, it is a strip pub and as such it has certain operational customs that need to be observed if everyone is going to have a good time. Before every performance, the dancer will come around and politely ask you to put a £1 coin in a pint glass that she is carrying with her. This is obligatory and excuses such as “I’m only here for one drink” or “I’m only here to watch the football on TV” have all been heard before and are really boring. Also, no touching the dancers please.
The manner is which The Horns has been planned, developed and is currently managed has lessons for any bar proprietor, in fact for any bar with our without dancers.
|The presence of The Horns make this area safer, it is well lit and the door is always watched by a staff member....|
So if you are a regular in Shoreditch, you should spend some time here. In fact if you have never been to a strip venue before and want to distinguish between the reality and the fantasy peddled by Object, The Horns would be a great place to experience the truth of the strip tease scene.