Published: 06:00, 28 November 2020
Things were certainly different during nights out in Kent in the 1990s.
There were no mobile phones - so if you wanted someone's number, you'd have to write it down on your hand or a beer mat. Then the next day you'd have to pluck up the courage to call the landline, hoping their parents didn't answer.
You'd also come home stinking of smoke and with cigarette burns in your clothes. Lighting up in pubs and clubs wasn't banned until 2007 and people would often dance the night away with a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Yet, surely, these were the glory days of clubbing in Kent.
It was the decade when dance music came into its own. Classics such as Living Joy's Dreamer, Born Slippy by Underworld and Gala's Freed from Desire were born and remain floorfillers to this day.
From Amadeus to Atomics, clubs across the county were rammed with people just out to have a great time.
He told KentOnline the music scene of the Nineties has never since been topped.
"The greatest year ever for music was 1996," he said.
"It was the year of the Euros, the Spice Girls - you had Blur and Oasis. We were cool back then and our music was stunning.
"It was when you had Living Joy's Dreamer, which can still fill a dance floor today, and Josh Wink's Higher State of Consciousness - it's a terrible song but I remember people standing there and holding their ears it was that loud. Incredible times.
"Music was an event. Robert Miles' song Children or Born Slippy by Underworld. The very first time I played those songs... it was very similar to scenes from the Ibiza clubs in the Kevin and Perry movie."
High praise indeed - but were nights out in Kent in the 1990s really that good?
Keep scrolling through the epic pictures below, and make your own mind up...
The 1990s was the era of super-clubs. Manchester had The Hacienda. London had the Ministry of Sound.
Meanwhile in Kent, we had Atomics.
In 1991, well-known DJ Mick Clark converted an old warehouse in Hart Street, Maidstone, into a nightclub and one of the biggest dance music venues in the country was born.
Top DJs graced the decks every weekend, including Boy George, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold and Judge Jules, and the county town’s now famous son Nic Fanciulli cut his teeth there.
The club, home to the infamous Club Class nights, looked different every week, decorated with banners, inflatables and lasers.
Clubbers from as far away as France and Germany, as well as all over the south east, danced to hardcore, happy house, drum ‘n’ bass and house over the years.
Mr Clark says he realized his dream in creating Atomics.
He said: "It was a DJ's dream - built and run by a local DJ to facilitate and promote ultimate enjoyment of the growing techno / house music journey exploding through the 1990s into the millennium."
Atomics closed after 11 years and the building was eventually converted into apartments.
Another huge venue in Kent with capacity for thousands of clubbers was Amadeus.
The £5 million club, at Medway Valley Leisure Park, in Cuxton, opened in a blaze of glory in 1997.
It included the latest lighting and sound systems, five bars and a VIP lounge and was surrounded by restaurants, a gym and a multiplex cinema.
The club was put up for sale in 2003 but carried on welcoming clubbers throughout the Noughties.
It was later renamed Passion nightclub and sadly closed for good in the summer of 2011. It is now a Hollywood Bowl.
The former Granada cinema in central Dover was converted into a nightclub which opened under the name Images in 1984 and continued welcoming revellers into the new millennium.
Resident DJ Justin Preston recalls boxers Nigel Benn and Frank Bruno coming to the club for guest sessions on the decks - although the latter simply "could not DJ".
The downstairs dance area was known as Fraggle Rock, and the final track every night was, somewhat bizarrely, the Ovaltineys advert.
Mr Preston says the club was well-known (like so many others) for having a "sticky carpet".
The venue's name was changed in 2001 to Snoops, although it was always known to regulars as Images (or even "Damages" to some).
The club was bought by JD Wetherspoon in 2003 but the pub chain never managed to reopen its doors.
It was later sold once again and the Castle Street building has since been completely demolished.
Plans for a mixed-use commercial and residential scheme have been submitted for the site.
The Priz / Bonkers, Folkestone
La Parisienne nightclub opened its doors on Folkestone seafront in 1988.
The venue was originally built at a cost of £15,000 in 1926 as the Marine Gardens Pavilion and hosted concerts, parties, variety shows and an ice rink - and also operated as a bar and cafe.
When it opened as a nightclub in the late 80s, it also had a section called "Bonkers" attached to it.
Although it had many name changes over the years, including Club Indigo and Club Onyx, it was always known affectionately as The Priz.
The venue welcomed a number of celebrities, including Eastenders stars Ross Kemp - better known in those days as Grant Mitchell - and Marc Bannerman and Michael Greco, who played Gianni and Beppe Di Marco.
Before she became a Hollywood actress (and married Sacha Baron Cohen), Isla Fisher also paid a visit to The Priz.
In the Nineties she was a soap star in Australia and in 1997 performed in the panto in Tunbridge Wells. But The Priz's resident DJ Kev Goodwin thinks her appearance at the Folkestone club may have been earlier.
"We had a lot of Neighbours and Home and Away people who came over and did tours of clubs," said Mr Goodwin.
The La Parisienne Reunion page on Facebook describes what the nightclub was like.
"Love it or hate it, La Priz has been a big part of Folkestone's late night history over the past three decades and was formerly crowned 'Kent's premier nightclub'," it says.
"It was the catalyst of many a relationship formation. It was the end-of-the-line venue to desperately get into when you were hammered and swore blind to everyone you wouldn't be going."
The club was demolished in 2016 after a suspected arson attack.
Roger De Haan's seafront redevelopment is currently being built at the site.
This nightspot was located on the corner of the High Street and Bell Street in Sittingbourne.
Summing up what the club was like, one reader on Facebook said: "Remember watching a Full Monty-style show there.... but with dwarfs... But that was JJ's."
Another former reveller said: "The night it closed Tim Westwood got locked out of his motor and I remember having a chat with him in the car park whist his entourage broke into the truck so they could all go home."
Big Hand Mo's, Chatham
The nightspot in Rainham Road was "like a fun pub", says DJ Hayden Parker.
"On the first night we had Phil Mitchell [Steve McFadden] pulling pints," he added.
The venue is now home to the Old Ash Tree pub.
Liquid Lounge, Maidstone
This is another club that’s morphed from one form to another over the years.
The Bank Street venue started out as Davinchis in the late 80s. Back then the club had an underground feel yet played, among other genres, “handbag house”, known for its catchy female vocals and accessibility.
As the end of the 90s approached, Liquid Lounge opened, with an r‘n’b room downstairs and more commercial music in the main room.
DJ Hayden Parker lived above Liquid Lounge for two years and says it was probably his favourite place to get behind the decks.
"It was spit and sawdust but it was fun," he said.
The building is now home to The Bierkeller bar.
Legendary Gillingham nightclubs - The Avenue, The Ritzy and Excalibur
"I like to move it, move it - you like to... move it!"
This classic Reel 2 Real track was blaring out at The Avenue when "The Mad Stuntman" came to the Gillingham club in the 1990s.
Located on the corner of Featherby Road on the A2, the club was also known as Bar Rio during the Nineties.
Take That's first gig in Kent was at The Avenue in 1991 - and it only cost £3 to see the band!
The nightclub was demolished early in the Noughties and replaced by housing.
Another popular Gillingham club was The Zone in Canterbury Street, which was previously known as The Ritzy and Catch 22.
In 2016 it was transformed into MooMoo but the club held its final party last year.
Excalibur in the King Charles Hotel was another legendary Gillingham nighclub.
Over the years it played host to some of the biggest names of the time, from jungle pioneer General Levy to rave heroes The Prodigy.
Rap duo Salt-N-Pepa, cult icon Rick Astley and heart throbs Bros also made appearances as the venue welcomed revellers from far and wide throughout the 80s and 90s.
Launched as the NAAFI club, it became The Regency in 1982 before its final incarnation as Excalibur - which enjoyed a hugely successful run from 1989 until its close in 1998.
With a 7000W sound system, three technic turntables, 2,000 lights and 50 TV screens, it was party central.
It even had a moving dance floor which revealed a swimming pool.
The Brompton Road site is now making way for a potential development which would see 57 flats built across a four- and five-storey block.
Polo Bar in Bexleyheath and T's Nightclub, Erith
The Polo Bar was the busiest venue on the Broadway in Bexleyheath, according to manager Thomas Fitzgerald, with queues even on a Sunday night.
"It had three bars over two floors and was always packed," he said. "It had a great atmosphere, friendly staff, a great selection of drinks at reasonable prices and music to suit everyone's tastes."
Mr Fitzgerald also ran T's Nightclub in Erith.
The club was located on the first floor above a Co-op on Pier Road.
It had two bars and a large dance floor and also boasted a balcony area with restaurant.
Classic clubs are long gone - so what's next for nights out in Kent?
After seeing the joy on the faces of everyone in these pictures, it's a sad fact that none of these nightclubs are still with us.
Several other legendary nightspots from the 90s - such as Cales, Flatfoot Sam’s, Vienna’s, Zens, Studio 3, Bridge Country Club, 5th Avenue, Trader Jacks, Ferrymans - suffered the same fate.
DJ Hayden Parker says going out used to be "an event".
"Things were a lot simpler," he said.
"The clubs would open at 9pm. All the pubs shut at 11pm. Everybody got a bite of the cherry.
"Now, when you've got a lot of bars open until 12pm, who's going to bother going to a club?
"We didn't have pre-drinking either. People would go to the pub. But the ridiculous prices have stopped that."
He traces the change in behaviour back to the launch of Big Brother in 2000 and technology like the Nintendo Wii in 2006 - with more and more people deciding to stay in for a drink with mates, rather than go out.
But the biggest factor, he says, has been the rise of smartphones.
"Mobile phones killed nights out," said Mr Parker.
"They're a distraction. Everybody is glued to their phones, more worried about what's going on on social media, rather than spending time in each other's company.
"Now you could just pull off an amazing mix and people will be on the dance floor but they are looking at their phones."
Will it be the same when Kent's clubs can finally reopen?
Perhaps, after months living in lockdown, people will be desperate to have a proper party again.
(If your favourite Kent nightclub from the 90s doesn't feature above, and you have pictures you'd like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll add them in)