Home   Kent   News   Article

Kent nightclubs in the 1990s: Classic pictures from Amadeus, Atomics, The Priz and more

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.

Clamouring to get close to Ross Kemp, AKA Grant Mitchell, at The Priz in Folkestone in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Clamouring to get close to Ross Kemp, AKA Grant Mitchell, at The Priz in Folkestone in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin

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.

Among them was DJ Hayden Parker, who has fond memories of being on the decks at venues like Liquid Lounge in Maidstone and Big Hand Mo's in Chatham.

Packed dance floor at Big Hand Mo's in Chatham in 1997. Picture: Hayden Parker
Packed dance floor at Big Hand Mo's in Chatham in 1997. Picture: Hayden Parker
DJ Hayden Parker, left, at Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 90s. Picture: Hayden Parker
DJ Hayden Parker, left, at Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 90s. Picture: Hayden Parker

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."

Sam Jacobs with pals at JJ's in Sittingbourne in 1997. Picture: Sam Jacobs
Sam Jacobs with pals at JJ's in Sittingbourne in 1997. Picture: Sam Jacobs
Good times at Amadeus in Rochester in the 1990s. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Good times at Amadeus in Rochester in the 1990s. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Busting a move on the busy Atomics dance floor in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Busting a move on the busy Atomics dance floor in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark

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...

Atomics, Maidstone

The 1990s was the era of super-clubs. Manchester had The Hacienda. London had the Ministry of Sound.

Meanwhile in Kent, we had Atomics.

Al Benson the comedian on stage at the 'Sunday Nuthouse' held at Atomics for three months in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Al Benson the comedian on stage at the 'Sunday Nuthouse' held at Atomics for three months in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Atomics crowd in 1995. Picture: Mick Clark
Atomics crowd in 1995. Picture: Mick Clark
It got very hot with plenty of dancing so there were NO clothing rules. Picture: Mick Clark
It got very hot with plenty of dancing so there were NO clothing rules. Picture: Mick Clark
On the large bar area in the main arena. Picture: Mick Clark
On the large bar area in the main arena. Picture: Mick Clark
Wild times at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Wild times at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Shades and no shirt, while a group behind smoke cigarettes. Picture: Mick Clark
Shades and no shirt, while a group behind smoke cigarettes. Picture: Mick Clark
An old warehouse was converted into Atomics nightclub in the 90s. Picture: Mick Clark
An old warehouse was converted into Atomics nightclub in the 90s. Picture: Mick Clark

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.

Excellent dance moves at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Excellent dance moves at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Jeans were clearly in vogue. Picture: Mick Clark
Jeans were clearly in vogue. Picture: Mick Clark
Clubbers spaced out on the Atomics dance floor. Picture: Mick Clark
Clubbers spaced out on the Atomics dance floor. Picture: Mick Clark
The 90s were clearly happy times for clubbers. Picture: Mick Clark
The 90s were clearly happy times for clubbers. Picture: Mick Clark
Tops off and hands in the air at a packed Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Tops off and hands in the air at a packed Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Smoking was still allowed inside clubs in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Smoking was still allowed inside clubs in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Behind the bar at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
Behind the bar at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
On the decks at Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
On the decks at Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Big queue outside Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
Big queue outside Atomics nightclub in the 1990s. Picture: Mick Clark
A Becks would only set you back £2 but a bottle of water was £2.50. Picture: Mick Clark
A Becks would only set you back £2 but a bottle of water was £2.50. Picture: Mick Clark
Promoting the opening of Atomics in 1991. Picture: Mick Clark
Promoting the opening of Atomics in 1991. Picture: Mick Clark
The main bar in the downstairs arena. Picture: Mick Clark
The main bar in the downstairs arena. Picture: Mick Clark
The original door crew at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
The original door crew at Atomics. Picture: Mick Clark
The small bar in the downstairs arena. Picture: Mick Clark
The small bar in the downstairs arena. Picture: Mick Clark
The old Atomics building has been turned into flats. Picture: Google Street View
The old Atomics building has been turned into flats. Picture: Google Street View

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.

Amadeus, Rochester

Another huge venue in Kent with capacity for thousands of clubbers was Amadeus.

Punters queueing outside Amadeus nightclub in 1998
Punters queueing outside Amadeus nightclub in 1998
Pals with pints at Amadeus in the 1990s. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Pals with pints at Amadeus in the 1990s. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Embracing the good vibes at Amadeus. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Embracing the good vibes at Amadeus. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Having a smoke and a drink in the club. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Having a smoke and a drink in the club. Picture: Helen Tomlin

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.

Amadeus was hugely popular in the 1990s and Noughties. Picture: Helen Tomlin
Amadeus was hugely popular in the 1990s and Noughties. Picture: Helen Tomlin
At the bar at Amadeus. Picture: Helen Tomlin
At the bar at Amadeus. Picture: Helen Tomlin
By 2011, the club had been renamed Passion
By 2011, the club had been renamed Passion

It was later renamed Passion nightclub and sadly closed for good in the summer of 2011. It is now a Hollywood Bowl.

Images, Dover

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.

Packed night at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
Packed night at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
Another busy night at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Another busy night at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Frank Bruno on the decks at Images. Unfortunately the boxer 'simply could not DJ'. Picture: Justin Preston
Frank Bruno on the decks at Images. Unfortunately the boxer 'simply could not DJ'. Picture: Justin Preston
Interesting activity on stage at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Interesting activity on stage at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Invicta FM DJ Chris Rogers, also known as Caesar the Geezer and Caesar the Boogieman, at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Invicta FM DJ Chris Rogers, also known as Caesar the Geezer and Caesar the Boogieman, at Images in Dover. Picture: Justin Preston
Lively night at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
Lively night at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
Neneh Cherry, mum of singer Mabel, performing at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
Neneh Cherry, mum of singer Mabel, performing at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
On stage at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
On stage at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
On the dancefloor at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
On the dancefloor at Images. Picture: Justin Preston
The plot of land in Castle Street, Dover, where Images nightclub once stood. Picture: Google Street View
The plot of land in Castle Street, Dover, where Images nightclub once stood. Picture: Google Street View

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.

A great night out at The Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
A great night out at The Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Angie Brown, the voice behind club classic I'm Gonna Get You Baby, and 90s singer Sybil, with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Angie Brown, the voice behind club classic I'm Gonna Get You Baby, and 90s singer Sybil, with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Big queue for the bar. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Big queue for the bar. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Dancing on the bar. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Dancing on the bar. Picture: Kev Goodwin
DJ Kev Goodwin with Eastenders actors Marc Bannerman and Michael Greco who played Gianni and Beppe Di Marco. Picture: Kev Goodwin
DJ Kev Goodwin with Eastenders actors Marc Bannerman and Michael Greco who played Gianni and Beppe Di Marco. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Good times at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Good times at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Good times behind the bar in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Good times behind the bar in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin

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.

Halloween at the Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Halloween at the Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Happy days at the Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Happy days at the Priz. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Having a Bud in the Priz in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Having a Bud in the Priz in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Isla Fisher at the Priz. Now a Hollywood superstar, in 1997 she appeared in the panto at Tunbridge Wells. But DJ Kev Goodwin believes this appearance was earlier. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Isla Fisher at the Priz. Now a Hollywood superstar, in 1997 she appeared in the panto at Tunbridge Wells. But DJ Kev Goodwin believes this appearance was earlier. Picture: Kev Goodwin
La Parisienne on Folkestone seafront was always known as 'The Priz'. Picture: Kev Goodwin
La Parisienne on Folkestone seafront was always known as 'The Priz'. Picture: Kev Goodwin
More dancing on the bar in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
More dancing on the bar in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Boxer Nigel Benn with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Boxer Nigel Benn with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Night out at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Night out at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Pop duo Hot 'n; Juicy, who had a hit with Horny '98. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Pop duo Hot 'n; Juicy, who had a hit with Horny '98. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Ross Kemp signing pictures of himself at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Ross Kemp signing pictures of himself at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Priz staff 1993/94. Picture: Darren Milner
Priz staff 1993/94. Picture: Darren Milner
Striking a pose at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Striking a pose at the Priz in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
The 'Spice Girls' on stage. Picture: Kev Goodwin
The 'Spice Girls' on stage. Picture: Kev Goodwin
The Priz dance floor in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
The Priz dance floor in the 1990s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
There was even a bucking bronco. Picture: Kev Goodwin
There was even a bucking bronco. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Tracy Shaw, who played hairdresser Maxine Peacock in Coronation Street, with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Tracy Shaw, who played hairdresser Maxine Peacock in Coronation Street, with DJ Kev Goodwin. Picture: Kev Goodwin
VK was still a popular nightclub drink, even back in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
VK was still a popular nightclub drink, even back in the 90s. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Young love on the dance floor. Picture: Kev Goodwin
Young love on the dance floor. Picture: Kev 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.

JJ's, Sittingbourne

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."

Lots of drinks half price? JJ's sounds great! Picture: Laura Bullard
Lots of drinks half price? JJ's sounds great! Picture: Laura Bullard
Bouncers at JJ's embrace Red Nose Day 1997. Picture: Toni Smith
Bouncers at JJ's embrace Red Nose Day 1997. Picture: Toni Smith
Having it large at the Sittingbourne nightspot. Picture: Adele Stearns
Having it large at the Sittingbourne nightspot. Picture: Adele Stearns
A smoke and a pint at the JJ's bar. Picture: Adele Stearns
A smoke and a pint at the JJ's bar. Picture: Adele Stearns
JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: Adele Stearns
JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: Adele Stearns
Having a go on the fruity at the Sittingbourne club. Picture: Adele Stearns
Having a go on the fruity at the Sittingbourne club. Picture: Adele Stearns
Wild times at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: Adele Stearns
Wild times at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: Adele Stearns
Spectacular fashion at JJ's in the 90s. Picture: George Beresford
Spectacular fashion at JJ's in the 90s. Picture: George Beresford
Behind the bar at JJ's. Picture: George Beresford
Behind the bar at JJ's. Picture: George Beresford
Uniformly classy at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford
Uniformly classy at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford
Happy days at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford
Happy days at JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford
JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford
JJ's in the 1990s. Picture: George Beresford

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.

Enjoying a few bottles of Bud at Big Hand Mo's in the 90s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Enjoying a few bottles of Bud at Big Hand Mo's in the 90s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Behind the bar at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
Behind the bar at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
A smoke and a dance at the Chatham nightspot. Picture: Hayden Parker
A smoke and a dance at the Chatham nightspot. Picture: Hayden Parker
Raising a glass at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
Raising a glass at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
On the alcopops at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
On the alcopops at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
Hoping to win the jackpot on Top Tenner at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker
Hoping to win the jackpot on Top Tenner at Big Hand Mo's. Picture: Hayden Parker

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.

At the bar at Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
At the bar at Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Anyone for a Tizer? Picture: Hayden Parker
Anyone for a Tizer? Picture: Hayden Parker
Budweiser and a cigarette at the Maidstone club in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Budweiser and a cigarette at the Maidstone club in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Keeping hold of a pint on the dance floor at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Keeping hold of a pint on the dance floor at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
He's double parked! Picture: Hayden Parker
He's double parked! Picture: Hayden Parker
DJ Hayden Parker with clubbers at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
DJ Hayden Parker with clubbers at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Squeezing in a photo at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Squeezing in a photo at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Cool dudes at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Cool dudes at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Big smiles at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Big smiles at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
A vintage photobomb at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
A vintage photobomb at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Hugs all round at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Hugs all round at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Liquid Lounge in Maidstone in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
On the dance floor at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
On the dance floor at Liquid Lounge in the 1990s. Picture: Hayden Parker
Embracing the good times at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker
Embracing the good times at Liquid Lounge. Picture: Hayden Parker

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.

Reel 2 Real like to move it, move it at The Avenue in the 1990s. Picture: Karl Hernandez
Reel 2 Real like to move it, move it at The Avenue in the 1990s. Picture: Karl Hernandez
"The Mad Stuntman" at The Avenue. Picture: Karl Hernandez
"The Mad Stuntman" at The Avenue. Picture: Karl Hernandez
Take That's first gig in Kent was at The Avenue in 1991
Take That's first gig in Kent was at The Avenue in 1991
Angie Brown at The Avenue in Gillingham in the Nineties. Picture: Karl Hernandez
Angie Brown at The Avenue in Gillingham in the Nineties. Picture: Karl Hernandez
The Avenue's manager Andy Mount with staff on a flyer from 1997
The Avenue's manager Andy Mount with staff on a flyer from 1997

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.

Jackie Foster at The Ritzy in Gillingham in the 90s. Picture: Jackie Foster
Jackie Foster at The Ritzy in Gillingham in the 90s. Picture: Jackie Foster
Jackie Foster with best friend Emma Kinghts and Ritzy's manager. Picture: Jackie Foster
Jackie Foster with best friend Emma Kinghts and Ritzy's manager. Picture: Jackie Foster
Clubbers in The Zone. Picture: Simon Brambleby
Clubbers in The Zone. Picture: Simon Brambleby
Embracing the good old days at The Zone. Picture: Simon Brambleby
Embracing the good old days at The Zone. Picture: Simon Brambleby

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.

Inside Excalibur nightclub in Gillingham
Inside Excalibur nightclub in Gillingham
On the dancefloor at Excalibur
On the dancefloor at Excalibur
Hotel owner and former club DJ Stephen Degiorgio during Excalibur's heyday
Hotel owner and former club DJ Stephen Degiorgio during Excalibur's heyday
Excalibur party-goers
Excalibur party-goers
Good times at Excalibur in the 1990s
Good times at Excalibur in the 1990s

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."

Foam party at Polo Bar in Bexleyheath in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Foam party at Polo Bar in Bexleyheath in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Manager Thomas Fitzgerald behind the bar. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Manager Thomas Fitzgerald behind the bar. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
On the dance floor at Polo Bar. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
On the dance floor at Polo Bar. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Outside the Polo Bar in Bexleyheath. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Outside the Polo Bar in Bexleyheath. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald

Mr Fitzgerald also ran T's Nightclub in Erith.

The club was located on the first floor above a Co-op on Pier Road.

That man Ross Kemp again, at T's Nightclub in Erith in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
That man Ross Kemp again, at T's Nightclub in Erith in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Having a dance at T's Nightclub in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Having a dance at T's Nightclub in the 90s. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Feeling festive at T's Nightclub in Erith. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald
Feeling festive at T's Nightclub in Erith. Picture: Thomas Fitzgerald

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."

Not a smartphone in sight at The Priz in the 90s... Picture: Kev Goodwin
Not a smartphone in sight at The Priz in the 90s... Picture: Kev Goodwin

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.

Enjoy seeing these pictures? Click here to see more classic photos from Kent nightclubs in the Noughties.

(If your favourite Kent nightclub from the 90s doesn't feature above, and you have pictures you'd like to share, email phayes@thekmgroup.co.uk and I'll add them in)

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More