A home from Home

Alex Ritchie mingled with the celebrities, and Peter Stringfellow, at the opening night of Home, the largest club in London

The time was 9pm, on 9, 9, 1999. Home opened its doors as the capital’s newest and largest club. It’s a £10m hi-tech Pleasure Dome, with seven floors dedicated purely to entertainment. London’s Leicester Square came to a complete standstill as thousands of people watched a continuous stream of limousines deposit their famous passengers, from Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart and Peter Stringfellow (they all look the same!), to Leonardo De Caprio and Caprice.

London has not experienced a club like this since the Ministry of Sound opened its doors in south London back in 1991. Here at last is a club that makes you feel welcome, it’s a venue where you can eat, drink, shop and surf the Net by day, and by night, dance the hours away to the sound of the most cutting edge music.

Home in London is the global flagship. The first club opened last year in Sydney, overlooking the fashionable Darling Harbour. The next club is to open in New York in 2000, followed closely by Barcelona and Ibiza. What we are seeing here is the emergence of a global entertainment brand.

The creators of Home are the renowned Glasgow leisure entrepreneur and designer Ron McCulloch, Darren Hughes from Liverpool’s superclub Cream, and Paul Oakenfold, Home’s musical director, famed for his Massive Attack hit remix, Unfinished Sympathy, and his work on U2’s Zoo tour.

As you approach No1 Leicester Square, you are first greeted by Home’s four-storey high LED screen on the club’s façade. Known as the “global media interface”, it will operate 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year. From any location around the world, via a modem, artists can present their video and electronic art and animation, not only inside the club in London, but to audiences inside any of the Home venues around the world, as well as to the thousands of people who pass by the Leicester Square club every day.

As you enter the club, designed by McCulloch’s company Big Beat, you are either escorted up in one of the glass lifts to the private members club, or you can enjoy spectacular balcony views over London’s skyline from one of two restaurants.

The remaining levels are divided into two different clubs. The main dance floor covers levels three and four and reminded me of Manchester’s famous Hacienda club or a New York style industrial warehouse. The other dance floor on level two is far more intimate with its slatted bar. Jay Kay from Jamiroquai was asked what he thought of the club and he replied, “It reminds me of a cross between a busy train station and a Conran restaurant.”

What McCulloch and his team have created in Sydney, London and, next year, New York, is a global entertainment brand that is already reaching a huge audience. Here is a leisure brand that really understands its audience and is giving them exactly what they want.

I hope that the arrival of Home will inject a new lease of life into a tired Leicester Square, best known for its fast food, multiplexes and lost, wandering tourists. Home will bring a long-awaited element of style to Leicester Square’s 24-hour operation and pedestrianisation of the surrounding streets.

And to finish with the quote of the evening. It comes from Chris Eubank, whom I met with Wood while coming out of the Dorchester Hotel.

My friend asked if he was going to Home tonight; Eubank replied, “No, I’m going to that new club in Leicester Square.”

He was probably just about the only person in London that night that was unaware of the name of the most exciting club to hit the capital in a very long time.

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