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The Duchess is a great way to escape from the same old top 40 mixed tapes blared out at Kuda and Tokyo and with its student night on a Friday it makes a perfect start to the weekend. Unlike the top floor of Ziggy's it is not so full of boozed-up sports teams looking for some action, attracting a range of years and even, dare I say it, some locals. Okay so it might not be the nicest looking club ever, but its underground vibe makes it a bit of a break from the shiny walls of Tokyo - it does also make it pretty sweaty! But, with the fire alarm starting to become a bit of a regular occurrence last term, at least you're likely to have a stint outside.
Speaking of outside, beware of the queue. Basically if you want to visit the Duchess come early! What you definitely don't want to do is sober up before you've even entered the club, god forbid you actually realise what being virtually in a cellar really looks like. Of course once you're in it is pretty easy to refuel your ring of fire induced drunken state with the £1 drinks on offer. Although small and pretty limiting in choice, at £1 you can't really complain. Having said this, if you do actually call the taxi on time and arrive a little before the club opens at 11 you're likely to get in pretty quickly. And anyway, if you don't they usually have some sort of promo going to sweeten the wait and distract from the pretty grimy street that the club is situated on... think free Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Phat Fridays claim to offer a mix of 90s and 00s classics ranging from Kayne West, Destiny's Child , Pharrell and Vanilla Ice- the night is in association with Urban Outfitters which pretty much sums up the vibe. The music is different and the DJs usually do a good job at mixing it so each song follows on from the next, something which the Kuda DJs seem to think means shouting over the end of songs or playing 30 seconds of each. Mind you if you go every week to the Duchess you will realise that they do pretty much have the same songs on repeat, and by 3am the DJs do seem to have run out of ideas. With the dance floor/bar queuing space only really being one room, with a little side bit and another bar, it's quite good for seeing people (not so good for avoiding people) and most seem to make it a regular affair... you'll see that same masters student by the bar every week.
During the week the Duchess holds loads of live music events and even the occasional cinema night. So it isn't just a place for Fridays, although if you do happen to see a gig before the club night they usually let you in for free!
Ultimately the Duchess is a good escape from the usual pop world of clubs, just drink a bit before hand, arrive early and wear everything you own from Urban Outfitters.