• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
In the heart of London’s swanky Chelsea neighborhood, a new 1980s-themed nightclub called Maggie’s, named after former British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pays homage to a bygone era.
Launched just before the recent British election, which put the Tories back in power after 13 years of New Labour rule, Maggie’s is a stone’s throw away from Mrs. Thatcher’s current home. Here, night revelers can indulge in nostalgia for a time that most of them are too young to remember. In fact, the nightclub founders, Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling, are only in their 20s.
Mr. Gilkes insists that Maggie’s is not a “Tory club.” Nevertheless, a visit will remind you of the Iron Lady’s stance on everything from the Falklands to the trade unions as her famous speeches play on loudspeakers in the restrooms.
The club is decked out with 1980s memorabilia: “A-Team” posters, “Gremlin” dolls, Wham! album covers, and a-ha platinum discs. The bartenders are dressed like Tom Cruise in the 1988 cult movie “Cocktail,” and waitresses wearing neon leggings deliver drinks to guests seated by giant Rubik’s Cube tables.
“The ’80s are definitely back,” says Gilkes. “It was an amazingly vibrant era and now, 30 years on, elements of it are creeping back into pop culture.”
With the Tories back in power, are ’80s enthusiasts also hoping for a revival of the politics of the time?
“People probably don’t think about politics when they go clubbing, but as for Thatcher, love her or hate her, she is undeniably an icon of the 1980s,” says Gilkes.
In the dawn of Britain’s new ideology-lite coalition government, spearheaded by Tory David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, the ’80s apparently evoke a sense of what it might be like to live in a time colored not just by gaudy fashion, but also by brash politics.