I love Plush.
It’s friendlier than ATIK, more sensibly laid out than Bridge, more central than the Bullingdon, and way easier to persuade your friends to go to than Glamorous.
But has this widespread appeal made it lose focus of its original identity of ‘Oxford’s premier LGBTQ+ nightclub’?
I think one of the best ways of assessing this is by thinking about what sort of music they play. Without considering the infamous ‘Tuesgays’ for now (I’ll get to those later!), cast your mind back to the last time you were at Plush. Did they play Madonna? Cher? Britney? Kylie? Charli XCX? I’m no Mystic Meg, but my guess is that you answered ‘no’ to all of those, or maybe four out of five if you’re lucky.
In my opinion, this is one of Plush’s biggest downfalls for its queer visitors – where are the classic gay club songs? Whilst it is important to note that not every queer person wants to listen to Lady Gaga on repeat for 5 hours, there’s an enormous difference between that and occasionally playing ‘Bad Romance’ and the utter privation of Mother Monster and other similar artists that so often plagues Plush.
In a similar vein, Azealia Banks’ ‘212’, a modern gay club classic that any queer party animal worth their salt knows all the words to, seems to be played more often at Bridge than Plush, even though the latter is much more likely to have the audience the song was made for.
Tuesgays, on the other hand, almost never seems to fail to deliver. Arguably more iconic that both ATIK Wednesdays and Bridge Thursdays combined, the music on Tuesday nights is much more like that of a traditional gay club.
Is it then that Plush decides to condense all of the classic ‘gay music’ into Tuesgays so that it doesn’t drive away non-queer patrons? It definitely seems true that weekend nights at Plush are populated more by generic pop music or drum and bass style beats than anything you’d hear playing at G-A-Y, London’s most famous gay nightclub, although it’s difficult to blame Plush for ‘selling out’ in this way, if that’s how you choose to perceive it. In fact, it could be said that it’s because of the non-Tuesgays nights that Plush can stay in business.
This is, of course, unfortunate.
An LGBTQ+ nightclub shouldn’t have to rely on the money of non-queer customers, and it especially shouldn’t feel the need to cater exclusively for them, but in a choice between that and Plush closing down entirely, there isn’t really an alternative.
This stark contrast between the experience of Tuesgays and Plush on any other night also makes for an awkward experience for many queer people I know – do they go to Plush with their friends on Friday or Saturday night at the risk of a less than ideal playlist, or drag them along to Tuesgays with the knowledge that their friends may feel bad about encroaching on a queer space on a night designed for queer people to be able to go as crazy as they like?
It’s definitely not all bad – for every time that Plush misses its mark on something, it hits the bullseye on at least a few others. For starters, I’d love to have a man carrying a tray of Jägerbombs in my house, and even though it’s admittedly disgusting at the end of the night, I can’t help but feel like the secret basement style atmosphere of Plush adds to the excitement: when you go down those stairs you really are entering another world for a few hours – or at least until you go back out for a smoke.
Image credit: Plush Lounge, Alex Haveron-Jones