Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Review: Birthdays, House & Licor

Unlike the creators of the BBC's Sherlock, this blog isn't created with the intention of witholding key information on things I'd promised to discuss, (seriously, we really do want to know how he died). Since my recent post on theupmarket end of Cardiff's nightlife mentioned that: I'd never been to Crystal and that I'd recently attended Lab 22's opulentfirst birthday but hadn't written a review, I thought that now would be prime time for an update and a pair of recaps on Lab 22's birthday and my first ever visit to Crystal and L'America 1998.

Lab 22's 1st Birthday
Probably my favourite watering hole in Cardiff, I ended up at Lab's little birthday treat to itself completely by accident, one chilly March evening in search of a drinking spot with a friend. Featuring a treasure hunt around the bar, exclusive specialities and one of my best night's in Cardiff to date, we wandered through a crowd dressed up in their finest to celebrate this little slice of nocturnal nirvana, trying various complimentary potions before settling in a corner with their finest short drinks.

It was a night that featured everything I reckon could want in a bar, glamorous people, bartenders juggling as they mixed, overproof rum at 84% (the only question we got wrong on the quiz), a saxophonist to accompany the DJ, soft lighting, smoke, drinks that tasted of chocolate cake, balloons filled with treats and the most fun I'd had yet at the Lab. Topped off with a few vouchers to encourage guests to return (which I've already managed to use!), it was a quality event that provided class and quality without a ridiculous price tag. As much as money no object luxury always has a certain appeal, the knowledge that even as a student I can (occasionally) afford a couple of nice drinks there means I keep coming back for more, here's to another great year!

L'America 1998 at Crystal Nightclub
Just the name sounds glamorous, conjuring up images of luminous bottles, strobes and smooth moves across the dancefloor. The reasonable £5 for entry before 11 was a nice touch, meaning I finally got to have a good look around one of the few places in Cardiff I've not yet tried, and Crystal itself left me (no pun intended), dazzled. Set underground, with plenty of plush hideyholes and spaces divided between a bar and club, the interior was filled with swanky sofas, dangling chains and mood lighting a la Hollywood film set, combined with a range of fabulous cocktails that don't quite blow the budget, especially the mouth watering coconut daiquiris.

The event itself was a sophisticated affair, with a selection of DJ's who pumped out the best in deep, chilled house music from the 1990s and early 2000s, with influences from Chicago house, Detroit techno and underground productions that maintained a positive vibe throughout the night. While the dancefloor took a little while to fill, I was never left feeling cramped or crowded, the exclusivity of the event allowed you a little space to dance and discouraged the ramming of customers like cattle into the club. I didn't manage the entire night, eventually leaving at around 3, but Crystal left a great impression on me, marred only by the reasonably high entry fee on it's regular nights.

I understand that a high entry fee generally leads to a more sophisticated clientele with a greater appreciation of the music, but the club has such brilliant underground appeal that I'd hate for it to get swallowed up or franchised in order to stay profitable and reckon that a student night with specialist music would be brilliant there! Once you taste the highlife, it's a hard bug to resist and both nights have left me wanting more!

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