A blog looking at the evolving nightlife of Milton Keynes over the years from nightclub nirvana to cocktail culture…
It’s back to the grindstone today after spending the majority of yesterday hungover. I had gone out Saturday night for my friend Nikki’s birthday with me and my best friend Jo having a tad too much to drink before going out; resulting in Jo leaving the party early and the lack of food making me drunk very quickly! I should have known better really but the way the night unfolded I did not manage to eat whilst I was out and not being the most confident person when out with those I don’t know seems to make me drink more, which in hindsight is the beginning of the end! Despite the copious amount of alcohol, somehow I managed to get some photos of the night and luckily Nikki did enjoy her birthday!
We started our night at Las Iguanas at The Hub and moved on to Turtle Bay for 241 cocktails. The restaurants and bars located at The Hub are at the heart of a night out in Milton Keynes with many of the restaurants offering drinks deals to keep diners in the area after eating. With nightclubs appearing to be on the decline up and down the U.K. The Hub fits the bill for the popular cocktail culture that has emerged over the last few years.
A great selection of restaurants are located in the main square to suit every taste with my personal favourite being Banana Tree, having enjoyed many nights here including dining with friends to celebrate my last birthday.
Deliveroo launches in Milton Keynes this week, meaning those living within the delivery radius can enjoy restaurant food; including those located at The Hub from the comfort of their own homes. Unfortunately, they do not yet deliver to my postcode area of MK7, therefore it may be a little while before I get to try it out for myself.Notwithstanding, it is good to venture out and enjoy the whole dining experience in the restaurant and The Hub does look pretty lit up in the evening. Despite being a popular area with all the restaurants currently open, a number of homeless and people asking for change are visible in the area, which is a growing sight in Milton Keynes and not only sad to see can also be a bit intimidating if you are walking around on your own.
We left The Hub to go to Revolucion De Cuba located in the Theatre District, which is currently the place to be if enjoying a night out in the city. If you haven’t been it is a must, not only for the great selection of cocktails on offer but for the tapas with the restaurant offering a 241 tapas deal if dining on a Sunday as well as the fact they serve Rekorderlig (my favourite cider) on draught.
In the evenings, Revs De Cuba has a vibrant party atmosphere with a dancefloor area and good mix of music to keep the revellers of Milton Keynes entertained with some queuing for some time to gain entry. The bar staff at Revs De Cuba work very hard to serve everyone at the bar and always seem in good spirits. I was particularly thankful to the barman wearing the bandana for looking out for me when I suddenly found myself emotional after the copious amount of shots, wine and cocktails hit me all at once! Needless to say, I left shortly after though was quite pleased at the fact I managed to stay out until 2.45am without eating a damn thing! I certainly won’t be doing it again and made up for the lack of food on Sunday!
The Theatre District is not what it was with the majority of former nightspots now closed with the last being David Garrick, formerly known as Lloyds owned by Wetherspoons closing earlier this year. It is sad to see the once buzzing Theatre District comprised with derelict buildings now acting as a refuge for the growing homeless community in Milton Keynes and a complete contrast to its former glory as a thriving place to enjoy a night out in the city.
Milton Keynes played a pivotal part of UK nightlife in the nineties with venues such as The Sanctuary and The Empire bringing in clubbers in their thousands from all over the country to see big name acts such as The Prodigy, Eminem and hosting dance promoters including Dreamscape, Sidewinder and Slammin Vinyl to name a few.
I hold very fond memories of my clubbing days at The Empire where I met my boyfriend of fourteen years and particularly loved their Old Skool nights; attending every Friday in school uniform to enjoy their All You Can Drink for £10 offer.
There was always a big group of us from Leighton Buzzard, my hometown who used to get the train every week up to Milton Keynes and could always rely on the 3.30am train back to get us home just in time for my best friend Jo to make us some cheese on toast!
Before the days of in -built camera smartphones all our photos were taken on our cheap disposable cameras and we were excited to get the pictures of our nights out printed each week as well as to view those taken by the club photographer and uploaded to Applebelly.com to reminisce and see who we had met; as this was a great place for meeting like-minded clubbers with many I am still in contact with over social media.
The Empire was the essence of my late teen years and aided my love of UK garage, jungle, trance and old skool music with this being one of the many reasons why I still hold this venue dear today.
For a while, I was hopeful The Point may be turned into a restaurant and club venue to make use of the old disused cinema areas, which in my mind would have been ideal as a nightclub or a place to watch music events with the tiered seating. The Point was once the key focus of the MK skyline and was visible miles away only to be left to run-down once Xscape opened and many were sorry to see its deterioration.
Whilst enjoying the occasional garage night at Wonderworld, these days my club of choice is Pink Punters located in Bletchely as this is somewhere I always seem to have a good night and love the odd random night out with my work friends dancing the night away followed by cheesy chips at the on-site restaurant. Pink Punters is a club focusing on the LGBT community and is a great place for a night out for those in the area with its open log fired smoking area, pool tables, numerous bars and rooms accommodating most music tastes; thus appealing to the wider as well as LGBT community.
As you get older nights out do become fewer and far between, therefore it was good to get out to celebrate my friend Nikki’s birthday as well as run into old friends I haven’t seen for a while; despite the all-day Sunday hangover. It will be interesting to see how the nightlife in Milton Keynes evolves over the years to come, particularly as club culture seems to have declined somewhat up and down the country with headline acts and djs now more likely to appear at festivals rather than club events and increasing pressure on clubs with noise restrictions due to new-build developments. The Milton Keynes Bowl is hosting Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) again this year, which is an event I have attended since it moved to Milton Keynes two years ago.
I can’t wait to see the likes of Martin Garrix, Roni Size, Dj EZ as well as Avicii’s last festival performance pre-retirement at EDC and only wish MK would host more of these events having attended Kings of Leon, Take That, Oasis, and Eminem concerts at The MK Bowl over the years.
There are proposals for a tower to be built on Midsummer Boulevard, which will be Milton Keynes’ highest building and whilst tower blocks can sometimes be an eyesore, the proposal to create a skyline restaurant may work well in this modern city and assist in creating a thriving nightlife once again and only time will tell.