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LONDON: The Cuckoo Club
Members-only clubs are big in London, but with yearly membership fees that cost up to £400, they're hell on out-of-towners. The Cuckoo Club, a chic spot in Mayfair, is technically one of the breed, but it isn't list-or-bust all the time. Gain entry and you'll find pumping music, creative food, and one of the best-looking crowds in town. The steady aural diet of rock music seems to cut down on pretension.
Velvet Rope Factor: Its motto is akin to the old Studio 54: "Dictatorship on the door, democracy on the dance floor." Intimidating, yes, but nonmembers do get in—it's a matter of grooming and style. The doormen are vets, and quickly suss out a potential guest's vibe. One word: Confidence, my dear chap, confidence.
In Good Company: Photographer Mario Testino and Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes are among the committee members, so you're in for a style-centric evening. Londonites like Kate Moss and Sadie Frost are apt to drop by, as are Marilyn Manson and his wife, Dita Von Teese. (Pictured, some woman named Paris, designer Julien Macdonald, and socialite Camilla Al Fayed.)
Hey, Mr. DJ: After a dinner of seared Scotch beef in the 70-seat restaurant, join the other cuckoos on the LED-screened dance floor for a range of tunes from the Libertines to Led Zeppelin remixes.
Sip on This: Special cocktails include the Roadrunner: high-end tequila, vanilla extract, maple syrup, egg whites, and Angostura bitters.
When to Go: Wednesday nights, when indie rockers Jackson Scott and Miles Winter Roberts play an acoustic set before DJ Dom T takes over on the one-twos. Otherwise, closed Sunday through Tuesday.
The Cuckoo Club
Swallow Street, W1
Tel: 44 207 287 4300