Destroy those prejudices.

Where (not) to go in Guildford: The Sequel

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Guildford sign


That’s right: I’m back.

A while ago, I counted down the eight worst places to go on a night out in Guildford; many of you agreed with me, and many of you didn’t (to put it lightly). Since that time, however, a number of those places have closed down (I like to think thanks to my list), only to have undergone a phoenix-like resurrection with a new name, and a new lick of paint; the rest of these haunts have stayed pretty much the same. I thought this as good a time as any to revisit my original list, and update it for the nightlife landscape in Guildford, 2015. Call it a reboot, call it a rehash, call it what you like – this is Where (not) to go in Guildford: The Sequel.


MKB logo8. MKB

Alright, so the first bar on the list isn’t actually that bad. On a weeknight, MKB has a relaxing atmosphere, and the bartenders are downright sorcerers when it comes to crafting their virtuoso cocktails. The drinks are hugely expensive, but that’s offset somewhat by the quality of the experience.

It all changes come the weekend, however; In cinematic slow-motion, the tan-happy elite will swarm in as one long, throbbing orange mass, faffing at the bar over what drink will make them look the most masculine (a sex on the beach will probably blend too much with their skin colour), or they’ll see to it that they take up every square inch of the counter just so you can’t get served. Imagine dying and going to hell, only to realise that hell is an episode of TOWIE – you can have that magical experience for real, every Saturday night, at MKB Guildford.

What you hope it is: A chill-out spot that, while pricey, is a haven from the bustle.

What it actually is: Like walking into a vat of rowdy Tango.

wetherspoon logo 27. Wetherspoons

It doesn’t matter what other ideas you have for starting your night; Step 1 of the lash-up masterplan is stopping by ‘Spoons to meet your other mates and grabbing a cheap pint. It’s quick, it’s easy, and I fully get it. But Spoons is not a quality drinking hole; good luck prising your £1.80 glass of ale from the hideously sticky tables, a task so difficult, you’ll have no choice but to conclude that Spider-man must have broken in overnight and bukkake’d the entire place.

Spoons also commits the crime of pretending to be a nightclub at weekends. Its main problem is that the dancefloor is situated just below a huge window opening out on the busy street; queueing up to get in means waddling slowly past this window, where your gaze is drawn downward on a sweaty throng of people mouth the words to a song you can’t hear. It all brings to mind some depressing dystopian zoo where, queuing side-by-side with the ghost of Aldous Huxley, you get to contemplate the hot, sticky and loud belly of a monstrous beast that you are about to willingly enter, as you edge ever closer to the mouth.

What you hope it is: A place for you and your friends to meet up.

What it actually is: A place for you and your friends to never go again.

All Bar One logo6. All Bar One

Guildford’s been performing a delicate balancing act for a few years now; as the country’s economic divide tears open ever wider, stores and outlets have been popping up around the town that represent either end of the rich-poor spectrum. We now have The Pound Shop close by to CEX, while a dizzying number of new, obscure and obscenely expensive clothes shops have spawned along the upper ridges of the high street. What does this all mean? It means that Guildford is now brimming with even more rich morons – and All Bar One is where they go to drink.

Vodka on the rocks should be one of life’s simpler pleasures, but it gets overly complicated when, upon handing you your glass, the bartender lustfully mouths the words, ‘six pound seventy.’ Also, forget finding a table, even though they have loads of empty ones upstairs in the (air-quotes) restaurant at any given time. The few times I’ve been there, I swear I spotted David Cameron swigging a vodka on the rocks by himself in the corner. A double, because he can afford it. All Bar the One percent, more like.

What you hope it is: A classy, upper-market bar with a non-judgemental atmosphere.

What it actually is: A sinkhole that opens up right beneath your wallet.

platform 95. Platform Nine / whatever the hell it’s called now

A lot of the places on this list have had a new lick of paint, but none more so than Platform Nine. Or Scrumptious. Or Divas. Whatever the hell it’s called now (Thirty Hz, apparently). This draws me to the only conclusion I can make: it’s real name is so evil, so poisonous to your very lips, that to pronounce it would summon the ancient demon Blakk-tuh; the establishment’s many monikers are just an ever-shifting porcelain mask to hide the formless, bottomless evil underneath. You’ll never find a more treacherous hive of scum and villainy (apart from numbers 4 through 1) – but as long as you don’t say its real name out loud, we’ll all be safe. All hail Blakk-tuh.

What you hope it is: An off-kilter choice not frequented by many.

What it actually is: The Hellmouth.

Tickled Ivory logo4. Tickled Ivory

There’s a warm sense of comfort in the knowledge that some places never change; they remain their terrible old selves, no matter what the turning times throw at them. Acting as a less-bourgeoisie overspill to All Bar One – for the clientele who weren’t wearing enough Ascot to get in – Tickled Ivory is a pokey, Escher-shaped curiosity. Although the bar staff are dexterous with their alcohol-alchemy and always friendly, there’s no helping the mind-fucking geometry of the establishment.

A VIP area consumes almost half the entire space of the bar; a side-room unexpectedly sprouts off into its own dimension; the only way in and out is a meagre set of double doors which, for some inexplicable fucking reason, are situated immediately next to the bar. This has been designed so that upon entering, you will instantly collide with someone, spilling their student-night firebomb over both them and your feckless self. It’s a flawless system, because it appears to work every time. Add the piano that casually lies upside-down on the ceiling, and it’s clear that Tickled Ivory defies conventional mathematics at every turn. Stephen Hawking would have a field day.

What you hope it is: A piano bar.

What it actually is: Cube 2: Hypercube

Casino logo3. Casino

He still hasn’t managed to devour Guildford like he had once hoped, but Michel Harper remains a staunch presence at the bottom of town with Casino (note: it’s still not a real casino). A night here is like an epic journey written by Homer: you’ll need nothing less than Jedi mind-tricks to get past ID check, and a bank balance the size of Bill Gates’ to shed your coat.

But your greatest test awaits inside: one wrong move, and you’ll be thrown back out onto the painful tarmac from whence you came, for the doormen are Cyclops, and the dance floor honeys are deadly sirens. To survive, all you’ll need are your trusty companions (your mates), your elixir of courage (JD and coke, two shots), and your sword of valour (your ace dance moves – not your penis). Minus the Greek-epic analogy, though, Casino’s quite the shithole.

What you hope it is: Guildford’s largest nightclub = Guildford’s best nightclub?

What it actually is: Guildford’s largest nightclub = definitely, definitely, definitely not Guildford’s best nightclub.

SFstSnhS2. Vinyl

Different guise, same monster. Vinyl reminds me of a meth addict; constantly trying to quit, talking optimistically of their salvation at every turn, only to dive bomb into a relapse at the next moment. Similarly, this little nightclub just can’t seem to catch a break. Reincarnated with a new name, the Time / Dusk / Cameo of old has done away with its glittery dance floor, and gone for something distinctly less tacky and more upmarket: a light-up dance floor.

Going to Vinyl is like grabbing a cheeky Nando’s with the lads: it should be fast, cheap, and a bit of fun. But replace ‘Nando’s’ with ‘piss-cave,’ and ‘cheeky’ with ‘scabby,’ and you’ll be a little closer to the truth. The fact that Vinyl always seems to be occupied by less people than Josef Fritzl’s birthday parties is proof that whatever this tiny club seems to try, like half-price drinks before certain times, it never seems to work. Perhaps people just want somewhere good to go for a change. Maybe they want somewhere that has a little bit of class to it – that isn’t the chav magnet of Vinyl, the douchebag bug-zapper of Casino, or the mid-life crisis that is Popworld. Is it too much to ask, Guildford? Is it?

What you hope it is: A cheap, cheerful place for you and your friends to pop into.

What it actually is: A barren wasteland of broken dreams, where last year’s chart hits are played extra loud to battle the encroaching silence lurking in its dark corners.

Popworld logo1. Popworld

Let’s dispense with an ugly truth right now: Popworld Guildford is part of a chain. Imagine it – there are more than one of these places around the country, meaning that somebody thought a club – whose best feature is playing the Grease megamix every night without fail – was such a good idea, they’d multiply it. I shudder when accepting the existence of just one of these temporal anomalies, let alone an entire army of them – and to think, we’re lucky enough to have one right here in G-town. But why is this retro-themed nightclub my pick for the worst night out in Guildford?

Upon entry, the name of a different nightclub rings a vague bell inside your head: Flares? Yes, that’s what they once used to call these hallowed halls. But after a feeble paintjob and some unaccountably slim rebranding, it’s ultimately a case of same shit, different night. You’ll be welcomed in by the hits from yesteryear (the ‘90s), and a decor whose combination of yellow, purple, and glitter occupies its own special part of the visible spectrum. But you know what, dear readers? It still takes forty minutes to get a drink, the toilets are still thousands of miles beneath the earth, and unless you are catatonically, unfathomably drunk, this club still sucks a big one.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the merits of Steps, Vengaboys, or indeed, the genius of S Club 7. Nor do I mind the bright lights gleaming off everyone’s pimply skin, making absolutely sure that no one is getting laid tonight. No, what I really despise about Flares – IT’S NAME IS FLARES, ALRIGHT? – is that no matter how well your night starts, you’ll always ruin it by ending up here. Why? Because there is no viable alternative: Cameo is full of dicks, and Casino is full of dicks who have lots of money (or think they do). And that is the inherent problem with Guildford; there is no middle ground. There are only the two extremes of cheap and awful, or expensive and awful. Sure, we may have a fancy pop-up urinal that appears from the ground (gasp, the future!), but if weeing in that is the highlight of one’s evening here, then the real truth is clear as piss: things need to change. Such are Popworld’s time-warping powers, you’ll realise that going out in Guildford isn’t a case of same shit, different night, but same shit, same night – over and over and over again.

What you hope it is: Not a shit end to a great evening.

What it actually is: Hazard a guess.


(Editor’s note: I am fully aware that this list includes pretty much all the places to go in Guildford. My advice? Move.)


Written by GaryGreenScreen

September 8, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape | 08/03/15

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.


1. Against Me! – ‘Thrash Unreal’

2. Marina and the Diamonds – ‘Forget’

3. Fall Out Boy – ‘Just One Yesterday’

4. Childish Gambino – ‘Sober’

5. There Will Be Fireworks – ‘Here is Where’

6. Ludovico Einaudi – ‘Experience’







Written by GaryGreenScreen

March 8, 2015 at 9:09 pm

The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape | 03/01/15

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.


1. John Samuel Hanson – ‘View From
the Voyager’

2. Taylor Swift – ‘Out of the Woods’

3. No Devotion – ‘Stay’

4. Chromeo – ‘Old 45’s’

5. The Swellers – ‘Warming Up’

6. Perma – ‘Tangled Up’







Written by GaryGreenScreen

January 3, 2015 at 11:19 pm

The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape | 20/09/2014

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.


1. Marmozets – ‘Born Young and Free’

2. Twin Atlantic – ‘Actions That Echo’

3. Gnarwolves – ‘History is Bunk’

4. Noyo Mathis – ‘Endure’

5. Adebisi Shank – ‘Big Unit’

6. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – ‘Son for Bob’







Written by GaryGreenScreen

September 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm

The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape | 04/06/2014

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.

the0anoiseontrial0amixtape0a042f072f2014-default copy

1. United Nations – Serious Business

2. White Lung – Lucky One

3. Rustie – Raptor

4. The Big Sleep – Robbers

5. The Four Seasons – Beggin’

6. Max Richter – November







Written by GaryGreenScreen

July 4, 2014 at 11:03 am

The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape | May 23, 2014

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.


1. The Menzingers – ‘Good Things’

2. Bear Hands – ‘Agora’

3. Mø – ‘Never Wanna Know’

4. Moonlit Sailor – ‘Skydiver’

5. My Chemical Romance – ‘Boy Division’

6. Defeater – ‘I Don’t Mind’







Written by GaryGreenScreen

May 23, 2014 at 9:06 pm

The NoiseOnTrial Mixtape: March 12th, 2014

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These are a handful of carefully selected tracks, new and old, which have caught my attention recently. It’s the NoiseOnTrial Mixtape; click here or on the image below to listen to it on Mixlr. Enjoy.


1. Dan Deacon – ‘USA I: Is a Monster’

2. Suuns – ‘Pie IX’

3. God is an Astronaut – ‘Forever Lost’

4. Caspian – ‘Procellous (Arms & Sleepers Remix)’

5. Arcade Fire – ‘Dimensions’

6. Aphex Twin – ‘Avril 14th’







Written by GaryGreenScreen

March 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm