This years club poll gave us the most interesting results yet. With a lower turnout probably due the use of FaceBook as security where voters required a FaceBook Profile to vote; this also revealed who voted for who. Registered users voted by clicking on a LIKE button under a nominated club flyer. Some used FaceBook tagging to promote the vote, as well as sharing individual flyers. This viral campaigning meant different markets were reached. Our complete transparency also meant a decline in ‘copy, fake or enforced votes’. This has given us the most accurate result yet reflecting the current trends in clubbing not only in London but Europe and giving us a ground view of real clubbers voting trends.
We look at the winners and the biggest losers, exam the trend as ask a lot of questions why one group in particular did so bad in the club poll where in years before they use to dominate.
First of all, here is the WINNERS list:
WINNERS & RUNNER UPS:
RUNNER-UP BRAND (OVERALL): SALVATION
FOLLOW UP BRAND: GREENKOMM
BEST WEEKLY CLUB: PLAYTIME
RUNNER UP WEEKLY CLUB: GIGOLO
FOLLOW UP WEEKLY CLUB: LO PROFILE
BEST MONTHLY CLUB: HARD ON
RUNNER-UP MONTHLY CLUB: WE LONDON
FOLLOW UP MONTHLY CLUB: GUTTERSLUT
BEST BAR: THE EDGE
RUNNER-UP BAR: PROFILE
FOLLOW UP BAR: RUPERT ST
BEST NEW BRAND: PLAYTIME
RUNNER UP NEW BRAND: GIGOLO
FOLLOW UP NEW BRAND: ROOM SERVICE
BEST EVENT: SALVATION
RUNNER-UP EVENT: TRADE
FOLLOW UP EVENT: HOTWIRED
BEST INTERNATIONAL BRAND: LA DEMENCE (BRUSSELS)
RUNNER UP INTERNATIONA BRAND: GREENKOMM (COLOGNE)
FOLLOW UP INTERNATIONAL BRAND: RAPIDO (AMSTERDAM)
OVER ALL TOP 10
Below is the overall TOP 10 indicating what are London’s & Europe’s biggest Brands as voted by you in the CLUB POLL 2011
1. LA DEMENCE- This club has been around for over 20 years and only recently is is being recognised as a big international brand. La Demence has expanded without moving. It does not lend it’s name to be held in any club…if you want to experience La Demence you have to go to Brussels. This attitude within itself has given it a global consciousness. It’s brand can not be watered down by being in the worng venue, with the wrong DJS and full of people who don’t get it…it remains unique because it stays where it is and shines like a beacon to the global clubbing community to experience the real thing in it’s home town. Instead big name international DJs are imported to La Demence and more recently is added a cruise to it’s global awareness.. DJ Oliver M’s inclusion, who was recognised in the SQ End Of Year List of being one of London’s most influential DJs, would have a big impact on the brand and it’s brand recognition here in London. They also campaigned targeting their voters well…with the international accessibility of FaceBook, a growing global reputation and one of the few brands that appeals to a wide group of gay men…La Demence heralds in 2012 with SeenQueen.com BEST BRAND 2012. Congratulations!
2. SALVATION- After 13 years of being London’s premier gAyLISt club, this circuit styled party has finally been recognised here and in Europe as one of the best clubbing brands. After several spectacular events here in London in 2011 with a target gAyLISt crowd, and noteworthy global parties all over the contient…Salvation fans have now become passionate about the club and with an excellent sharing campaign on FaceBook they showed this passion in votes. This also reflects the rise in the ‘glamour vote’…clubbers of the GAyLIST turning out to create a top 10 that reflected quality over quantity…wanting to reshape which clubs were recognised not just for being ‘a product you buy a ticket to’ buys but providing a unique, up market and stylish clubbing experience.
3. GREENKOMM- The surprise vote of 2011, this underground after-hours from Cologne attracted what we can only say is a ‘passionate’ vote. The drive to have this club being recognised for being a unique and quality after hour experience with some of Europe’s hottest club DJs is also reflective of European clubs gaining the edge in clubbing by expanding their brand while still keeping their integrity, credibility and loyalty to their roots.
4. THE EDGE- How did the Edge beat club brands like Beyond in the top 10? Could the inclusion of Zach Burns increasing their profile be part of it? Their recent renovation that attracted a lot of attention? Or a clever and passionate campaign to get votes? Or maybe, after all these years it truly has become the BEST gAyLIST bar in the capital? Whatever shift occurred for this bar to hit the top 10 brands of 2011, it is well deserved.
5. PLAYTIME- Porn star Jay Roberts has transformed Friday nights at LoProfile into PLAYTIME, a super sexy, pornstar filled and hot clubbing experience in the heart of Soho. A blend of music, gogos and ‘sex sells’ sees this new brand enter the top 10 beating most of the established ones. Here ‘fresh means fresh’ and not ‘defrosted’. With new General Manager Kerry Chapman behind this successful night…PlayTime is also recognised as BEST NEW BRAND 2011.
6. GIGOLO - When David Hart & Jodie Harsh started Room Service, they redefined week day clubbing. They set the standard and practice of viral marketing by attracting the hottest guys, photographing them and then plastering them over social networks and websites. When David went his own way he created Gigolo. He has established the trend of photo booth clubbing; and from the first day when Gigolo opened its doors it was packed with the highest quality clubbing crowd. He added
a East meet West dimension to the club and totally embraced the concept that ‘sex does sell’…and this was reflected in his images and Gigolo styling. With a good social network campaign…Gigolo swept into the top 10 of Best Brands of 2011. Gigolo is true to the gAyLISt philosophy with selective door, quality control and a a crowd made up of the scene’s hottest and most creative people.
7. PROFILE BAR- Profile has grown from strength to strength. A bar come diner come mini-club sometimes called the Penthouse, on the weekends you will find some of London’s biggest names dropping a funky soundtrack to some of the scene’s hottest gay boys. The bar staff are friendly and the food is diner style but very tasty. Cocktails, uplifting grooves and a very easy on the eye crowd has made this Soho Bar hot property.
8. LO PROFILE (SATURDAY)- This club is tucked away under Profile and comes to life after Profile closes. Saturday nights always rock with an amazing dj line up playing everything from the lates anthems to the newest tunes. The crowd can be quite mixed, always nice looking and fond of a drink or two. Some use LoProfile as a good night out and others use it as a way to launch themselves into a trashy weekend…but you won’t find trash here. The crowd is nice looking and always up for a party. This clubbing arm of Gaydar attracts a wide cross section of clubbers and it is becoming the club of choice of many for a Saturday night.
9. BEYOND- For most clubs, being in the top 10 is a remarkable achievement but for Beyond, a triple time winner of Best Brand and Best Weekly club, it is a distinct fall from grace. This is ORANGE NATION’s highest voted scoring club (the clubbing group represented about 25% of the clubs listed). Although Beyond is busy and is expanding globally, back in London many say the crowd is not what it used to be, with the passion people used to feel for it being reflected in it low vote.
10. HARD ON- London’s dirty dance club has evolved, it makes the top 10 easily behind BEYOND. The constant evolution of Fetish and this club sees a consistency throughout all our club polls indicating one well know strong proposition…fetish will always do wells….and Hard On knows how to make that happen. Throughout it’s life Hard On has always been present in our top 10 and nearly 9 years down the track it is still there, and not only that, it claims the BEST MONTHLY CLUB 2011.
OBSERVATIONS & COMMENTS.
SOHO vs VAUXHALL
Anything held South of the river saw a significant decline in votes. This may be an indication more of the type of clubbers now heading in that direction, with Vauxhall in particular having a declining reputations based on criminal activity including violence, declining quality crowds, an increase in undesirable straights and a reputation of being ‘trashy’. With the monopoly of clubs by ORANGE NATION on that side of the river, like most monopolies there is a trend towards ‘sameness’ and users tend to consume rather than be part of. So how can the clubs be so busy yet fail to attract significant votes? Last year, they occupied a large part of the TOP 10, this year only one space….so what is different from last year to this? We surmise a few possibilities; those people going to ORANGE NATION clubs are now so different from the SeenQueen.com site visitors we no longer reach but a small part of them. Even though SeenQueen.com has risen globally in the world rankings (we site just outside the top 500 000 globally climbing 500 000 places in the last year), the gap between those extra people visiting our site and those going to Vauxhall clubs is getting bigger. A second thought, one we already mentioned. is that clubbers are now consuming certain clubs. They use them up and throw them out. No passion, no loyalty…just make it fun, give me big production and make it cheap. Where in Soho the new glamour vote says ‘we belong to this club, we want to go there because people like us want us there. We don’t need big shows, flashing lights… because it is about the people not the product; Vauxhall clubbers buy a product and expect it to do what is says. It is buy, do and take without actually being part of what is being sold; and when you don’t feel part of it, why vote? This attitude has increased significantly over the last year and has been reflected on social networks and observed several times.
BARCODE also saw a massive drop in voters. Is this due to being in Vauxhall? Or is it due to the change in club nights they promote, aimed at the non SeenQueen.com end of the market. In fact SeenQueen.com only list Saturday nights at Barcode as the other nights do not appeal to our target audience and we can not recommend them. With BARCODE SOHO closed, Barcode gAyLIST support has declined reflected in it’s almost non-existant vote. The taking on of certain club nights and promoters seemed to have isolated thier core crowd, the traditional supporters (and voters) for Barcode. We always felt they sold the wrong Barcode and the vote turnout seems to reflect this.
Other clubs South of the river that failed to have support included SuperMartXe & As One, where as last year they were riding high.
HARD ON was the only Vauxhall club that attracted a significant amount of votes making it the winner of BEST MONTHLY CLUB Of 2011, replacing LOVECHILD from last year which also saw a decline in support. HARD ON clubbers are loyal and fierce about their club and have always shown support when it came to club polls. Like the SOHO clubs, the people are the brand and this was shown by the support it received.
Using FACEBOOK as a means of collecting votes had one significant drawback…transparency. This may account for the lower turnout, but it also may account for the shift in clubbers not supporting their
clubs. Politics has wreaked havoc on the London gay scene, and with the easy ability to see who voted for what, many simply did not want to get bogged down in ‘why did you vote for them and not us’ type argument. Usually staff are a large part of the vote, but with prying eyes ‘why vote at all’could have become the attitude ‘if I am going to get told off for voting for a competitor’.
We believe transparency is a good thing and we are keeping this form of polling for the future. It can stop any external accusation of bias, rigging or fluffing up the vote. It also shows that there are no other influence…as all activity is monitored in timelines, wall post and share counts.
Using FACEBOOK also meant the poll had far greater access to the world, in their own language, and the ability to campaign virally. This meant a demographic shift to a wider polling group. It was also suggested that FACEBOOK is a sophisticated social network tool and many simply did not understand how to use it to vote, while the more intelligent and tech savvy knew not only how to vote but to encourage other more sophisticated clubbers to do so to. Those qualities of exclusivity, sophistication, intelligence, global reach all appeal to SeenQueen.com which is why we believe FaceBook provided us with a cheat proof and accurate way to collect votes and this in turn revealed the significant shift in who voters felt deserved their LIKE.
Remember, SeenQueen.com club poll really is the choice of the people. Our website is not supported by revenue from those clubs in the poll and being on FaceBook in public, one can easily monitor pressure or affected influence. Although we have accepted advertising from some of the nominated clubs, the advancement and existence of our site is run on passion not money from advertisers. This would lend our poll a certain credibility, and with FACEBOOK voting, transparency necessary to secure a accurate and reflective vote of our target audience.
EUROPE VS LONDON
Accusation that some promoters do nothing more than ‘copy and repeat ‘ in favour of creating something new could claim some credence from the many familiar styled clubbing events with the same dancers, DJs, venues, styling, production and music. After all why change something if it isn’t broke, and copying the concept makes good economic sense. Anything new or exciting seems to be an import like Matinee or WE or based around the style of an import. It has been suggested that London has lost it edge, although we believe it hasn’t lost its edge…it just hasn’t maintained it . This is not to be said for European clubs which seemed to have developed their own style and edge, one which not only appeals to continental clubbers but those here in London.
For the first time in 10 years the BEST BRAND award was won by a European club not based in London. It knocked triple time award winner BEYOND from the top with a ratio of 3 votes to 1. It was won by LA DEMENCE, a club in Brussels, our theorisation on Europe becoming a cool clubbing destination being affirmed.
So how did European clubs scoop the pool while London clubs including their European (mostly Latin) incarnations failed to create an impact. We already mentioned ‘consumer clubbing’ and ‘the declining reputation of Vauxhall’, but what else could create such a divide?
This may have something to do with web/social network/tech saviness, or these Northern Europe Brands are simply getting it right and remaining exclusive while the Latin Brands are over expanding and loosing a passionate fan base. This trend in Exclusive vs Globalisation may seem to account for why those who feel like they are part of the brand will be more motivated to vote rather than those who use clubbing like a shopping mall and feel nothing except the immediate hedonism which is left behind once the night is over.
No wonder La Demence and GreenKomm did so well, as these growing brands have attracted a lot of support from those who want them to do well. La Demence in particular has a policy not to travel keeping it uniqueness firmly in Brussels…to go to La Demence YOU have to travel and making the effort makes the end result so much sweeter! It’s the orignal, and the only one. This creates exclusivity and a passion for the brand, reflective in it wining the BEST BRAND 2011.
This is not to say the London scene is dead and buried. The big votes for Profile, LoProfile, Salvation, Gigolo to name a few indicates London has a lot of kick in it.
RISE OF THE GLAMOUR VOTE
PLAYTIME, SALVATION, PROFILE, THE EDGE, GIGOLO all did very well in the club poll. these brands are more know for their hot crowds than anything else and they are all in Soho. The return to the ideal ‘the people are the club’ creates passion for this veneus…and this means votes. This is a return to QUALITY over QUANTITY. At SeenQueen.com we have always attested that we would rather be in a club of 200 people passionate about the club, then 1000 people who couldn’t care less. 2011 was obviously the time for the tide to start to turn and glamour clubbing to once again make it’s mark.
MONOPOLY VS. INDEPENENTS
There is no doubt with ORANGE NATION London clubbing would only be half of what it is. They run and control three different venues in Vauxhall and either have created, control or liscene over half the club brands including Matinee, WE, Beyond, The Week, As One and more. However, their decline in votes was so significant it almost seemed the voters were making a point…and that point was transferred in votes to the independent and smaller clubs. There is no denying there is power in a monoply. Greater resources mean bigger shows and production, better value for money and a large resources. Orange Nation clubs are busy, although quality and quantity have never been good bedfellows..does this account for the lack of support? In a vote with complete transparency…were people ‘not wanting to be seen voting for this giant?’ If all of the staff of ORANGE NATION voted for them alone, the club poll would have been very different, but the lack of motivation to support this back bone of the London scene was too obvious.
Salvation was the runaway success of the poll. With only 3 parties in the year plus numerous international events they made a massive comeback. The expanded on their ‘exclusive glamour clubbing’ reputation, moved back to their ancestral home or borrowed one equally as glamorous and threw parties that people seemed to love. There was a passion expressed for this club the likes only seen before for Beyond and early Matinee. Just pipped by La Demecne as Best Brand, Salvation now represents the best of London. Soho also never did so well…small boutique clubbing like Gigolo & Playtime using sexiness reflected by their crowds approached clubbing from an almsot old skool angle saw them rise to the top.
Clubbing in London is in transition. There seems to be an obvious divide between clubbers…and various clubbing destinations have different reputations and attract different people. This divide is seems has been widening reflected by our club poll results. This year it was strongly shown by an overturn of results.
As usual our recommendation for 2012 will reflect what was show in the club poll, as we cut those clubs from our listings that had little or no support and refocus on those that did.
Thank you to all those that commented, shared a concept, idea or explanation. AND THANK YOU TO THOSE THAT VOTED. It is you which shape quality clubbing in London, and is SeenQueen.com that collates it and gives it you in one easy website.