Manette St, Soho, London W1D 4JB
The Borderline has relaunched. A relief considering a complete shut down is what most venues face. The ’80s-born Borderline has been taken over by the DHP family, similarly to its sisters The Garage and Oslo. After a vigorous clear out and a good Kim Woodburn scrub, the venue has opened its doors and is hoping to lure us, the live music fans, back in.
For a good live venue to be good, it has to have acts that we want to see. Tonight, they have booked a DJ. Possibly to please the wide spectrum of people invited here to come and look at the revamp. This is not a normal night but just a mere sneak peak into what the DHP family has done with this treasured Soho gem. Looking at the upcoming gig listings, it seems the new booker has been busy though.
Many will remember The Borderline for housing some well loved acts including the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. It also neighbours with the metal hive that is the Crobar- a convenient place to grab one for the road after a gig. I made a promise to myself tonight that I won’t fall into there on my way out.
If you’ve ever redecorated then you will know that the room will smell of fresh paint for a long time. This is no different for The Borderline. They’ve smothered the place in a pitch black layer which sparks me off into a humming rendition of “Paint It Black”. The stage (and the DJ) blends into the rest of the room. If it weren’t for the brightly lit bar, I would have thought that I’d been thrown into a black hole.
Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to this shiny golden bar. Gold strips, mirrors and lights frame the spirits and bottles. The fridges are stocked full of cans of red stripe, cider and craft beer including a selection of Beavertown. The pumps hold Guinness, Aspalls, Holsten and Brooklyn. I spy two menus floating around too. One for wine and one for £9 cocktails- everyone is pretty much covered. All the drinks are served in plastic which comes as no surprise. Saying that, the bartender almost pours my drink into a glass only to be told off by his manager. I wonder what respectable event will earn you a glass?
The toilets are still located in the same place but have been transformed into an optically confusing corridor with squares of light glued to the corridor’s edges. This sends most people with bladders at full capacity into a panic. “Where have they hidden the toilets?” one man exclaims whilst feeling the walls.
As the night progresses, the smell of fresh paint turns quickly into freshly spilled whiskey. Although a DJ stands quite enthusiastically on stage playing retro tracks, I run out of things to observe. This slice of Soho has definitely changed, and into something resembling a nightclub. The distance in front of the stage seems to have been reduced to make room for the long bar.
Live gigs here will certainly be reserved for more intimate gigs and an array of club nights. The Borderline is certainly not the same as it once was but maybe the ol’ place did need a lick of paint in order to keep it alive. The drinks selection has drastically improved too. My hope is that they will keep housing the artists we want to see. Till then, I think I’ll fall into the Crobar.