Review: Proud2 launches at London’s O2

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London’s O2 saw the launch of a new club this month in the form of Proud2. Part of the Proud family of venues that includes the famous Proud Camden, Proud Kitchen and Proud Brighton Ballroom, it keeps up the tradition of theatrical decor, performance art and a vibrant mix of art forms.

Formerly Matter, an industrial-style club with lots of dark walls and metal finishes, Proud2 has seen a major refurb – think Las Vegas meets circus glam. Huge chandeliers adorn the main room, with a highly theatrical style décor throughout. This space is now focused on performance and visuals – a very apt move given the current trend in clubbing that ties in well with the renaissance of cabaret, burlesque and performance art.

Launched with a star-speckled line-up pulling in an interesting cross-section of bands and DJs, the event included live sets from some great bands from the British music
scene, including The Bees and The Mystery Jets.

DJ sets by Henry Holland, Horse Meat Disco and Friendly Fires ensured the music was fresh, modern and diverse, just like Proud2 itself.

Proud2 was extremely mixed and very relaxed, with a crowd of about 40-60 gay and lesbian to straight. Although with so many performers, fashionistas and media types roaming around at the launch night, this is hardly surprising. It’d be interesting to see if this trend continues on a ‘normal’ club night. Things look promising – the high-fashion, high-camp, high-heeled wonder that is Daniel Lismore is already set to host the sultry VIP area.

Stilt-walkers, a trio of clowns and a colourful range of performance artists roamed the club throughout the evening. My particular favourite was the colour-changing gin and tonic and the sherbet which made sour things sweet and sweet things sour – sucking on a lemon will never be such a fantastic experience. A fetish fashion/rocking horse set was on display with a photographer for anyone brave enough to have a mini-shoot. Of course I did.

An impressive outdoor terrace is sure to be one of the most popular spaces this side of London come spring. A large courtyard of decking with an ample central bar with funky ‘bed’ areas surrounding would have been heaven if it hadn’t been hovering above freezing. Views of Canary Wharf give the whole space a very New York feel. I’ve already booked my sun lounger for summer.

Room 2 is smaller and more traditionally clubby than its bigger brother, with thousands of neon polka dots all over the walls and some cute school bench and table style seating.

Matter hosted some gay events in the past, most notably for one-off events on Bank Holidays and after-parties for London Pride – with mixed success. With so many venues in central London, there wasn’t really much of a draw to head all the way to Greenwich. Maybe Proud2’s theatrical vibe and glam outdoor space will be enough to drag clubbers away from the dreary Vauxhall arches.

With a line-up over the next few months including the likes of Sara Cox, Zane Low, Hot Chip, Bloc Party and Paloma Faith, this new space is well worth keeping an eye out for, and definitely worth the trip to Greenwich.