vintage, nostalgia and memories


December 27, 2016

Inside The Wag Club, the Hedonistic Club That Changed the Face of 80s London

Chris Sullivan opened the Wag Club in 1982, back when that square mile of city center just on the edges of Oxford Street was still the beating artistic heart of the capitol. A members club located at 33 Wardour Street, the Wag revolutionized nightlife across the entire country. It's eclectic blend of latin jazz, vintage funk, northern soul, hip hop, and house, was a far cry from champagne and chart music of the VIP-friendly world of West End clubbing just up the road.

The Wag is famous for a number of reasons. The style pages were obsessed with it because, from the moment it opened, it was the place to go. Celebrities, divas, queers, and club kid fashionistas flocked to party on its hedonistic dancefloor. Everyone from David Bowie to Naomi Campbell passed through the doors. This alone wouldn't be enough to warrant The Wag's high standing in clubbing history; there have been hundreds of clubs lit up by the fleeting glow of glamour. Instead, The Wag's legend was built by its remarkably forward-thinking music policy. Driven by Sullivan's love of soul, the club became one of the first places in England to completely embrace first the hip hop, then the house explosions booming from New York (and all the fashion, slang, drugs, and music that came with each scene). The Wag's clientele was obsessed with being on the cutting edge, and Sullivan recalls how this manifested itself in sudden sweeping changes in style that would go on to be mirrored around the country.

For almost two decades it brought together people from all ages, races and class together. In typical fashion for all our city’s cultural lynchpins, the club is now gone and its site turned into an O’Neills pub. However, photographer Graham Smith was there with his camera to capture the glory days – a series of images he shares with us here. “I just carried a camera with me for about five or six years, and became obsessed with photographing all my mates around me”, he told Dazed.

Jane Goldman

The Wag door gals - Louis, Sue and Princess Julia

Neneh Cherry

Haysi Fantayzees Jeremy Healy with Wag Club rapper Seymour and his mate 1982.



Ollie

Paul Simper 1983.

Stephen Linard

Basienka

The Wag Club, 1983.

Kate Garner (Haysi Fantayzee) Jeffre, 1983.

Sade and Christos, 1983.

Siobhan Mel, 1983.

Phil Dirtbox, Jay Strong man and Ro, 1983.

(Images © Graham Smith)

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