Yesterday I undertook the seventh and final of my ‘research’ pub crawls in my mission to visit all of Gloucester’s pubs. I confess that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one as it was to explore the pubs of Eastgate Street: Gloucester’s party scene.
The fact that I wasn’t looking forward to it is no particular reflection on the pubs themselves, but a reflection of the fact that I am about 20 years too old to enjoy this sort of a night out. It therefore says a lot about my commitment to the mission that I set out to do it anyway.
It is at times like this that you find out who your friends are: this was never going to be the most popular of my pub crawls, but four brave souls – Kate, Dave, Brigitte and Gary – agreed to venture out with me.
I last did this pub crawl on 14 March 2009, and on that occasion I travelled from West to East, finishing at what was then Innteraction (now Registry). This time I decided to go in the opposite direction, starting at The Famous Pint Pot in Bruton Way.
Starting at the Pint Pot eases you into the experience gently as this is a traditional pub, which is perhaps surprising given that it is adjacent to and owned by the same people as The Registry. When I arrived at 8:30 it was busy, but soon emptied out as most of the clientele were off to a boxing match next door at GL1. Like the other pubs in Eastgate Street it would have to wait a few hours before getting busy again.
By about 9:30 we could put it off no longer and headed out into Eastgate Street proper, our first stop being TnT. On my last visit this was my favourite of the club pubs as it was lively, fun and relaxed. However, on this occasion we were much earlier and, although music was pumping out loudly, we found ourselves the only ones there. The bar staff seemed slightly surprised to see us at such an unfashionably early hour and confirmed that it would be a good couple of hours before it got busy. The same was the case in Bar H2O opposite, where we were heavily outnumbered by the bar staff.
Comments to recent Citizen stories about Eastgate Street’s waning popularity with students suggests that there is a lack of variety in the pubs and clubs (I blogged about it here), but to my untrained ear there appeared to be a clear difference between the two: TnT being older music of the type we recognised, and Bar H2O being more modern club music.
Time slipped by remarkably quickly and it was getting on for 11:00 by the time we moved on from H2O. By now people were starting to arrive, many appearing to be pre-loaded with alcohol, and there was no messing around: no sooner did people arrive than they started dancing. It was at this time we also started to feel over-dressed – despite the sub-zero temperatures we were the only ones un-cool enough to be wearing coats.
At this point the evening took an interesting turn: our next port of call was Zest. I got to the bar and bought drinks and then was almost immediately asked to leave by the bouncers. Apparently, umbrage had been taken by my review from my last visit and I wasn’t welcome there.
I could only assume that the review in question was in my book. I couldn’t remember being particularly scathing about Zest, so when I got home I had to look it up, and it is true, I wasn’t particularly complimentary. To be fair, I had just had a bad experience in Butlers next door, where I had been evicted for having the temerity to take notes, which I blogged about it at the time here (do you see a pattern forming?), so my impression may have been clouded by that, but what I said was:
“From the outside Zest looked very tatty… Inside was no better; it was dark and dingy with a carpet that stuck to your feet and cloudy plastic glasses. It didn’t seem to know what it was, being part pub but with the ubiquitous DJ booth in the back and day-glo drinks behind the bar.”
So maybe they had a point. I would have been delighted to update my view of the place, but since I didn’t get the opportunity to form an opinion I can only assume that it is still at least as bad as it was then.
Perhaps I should have been annoyed by being evicted from the bar in this way, but I wasn’t: I was delighted! Firstly it meant that I didn’t have to drink in Zest, but also it meant that I had achieved such a degree of infamy that someone somehow remembered me after all of this time and recognised me. In short, I was chuffed!
I felt that this didn’t bode well for my next stop, Butlers, but here I had no trouble at all and was admitted without question. Butlers was absolutely packed – there was barely room to stand without being jostled by enthusiastic dancers – the whole place was one big dance floor and everyone was having a great time.
We wondered whether this was the bow wave of people moving their way down Eastgate Street and the pubs that we had previously left would soon benefit from their share of the crowd or whether Butlers was just particularly popular.
Next we skipped ahead to Voltage, expecting more of the same, but here it was once again quiet. Voltage has a very different feel, it still had loud music, but it is a more traditional pub, even selling real ale. I’m not sure what it is doing wrong to not attract the crowds: maybe they were there earlier and had moved on, or perhaps the fact that it is just off the Eastgate Strip works against it. Either way, they would greatly benefit if Jumping Jacks was ever to re-open as a night club.
By now it was past midnight as we headed back to the Water Poet. This is a Wetherspoons pub, so is more traditional and has the wide range of beers that you would expect from the chain. It also doesn’t have loud music. There weren’t many people in, but it had the feel of a place that had recently been deserted as everyone headed off to the clubs.
And so to our final stop: Bar Fever. I included this on my list of pubs as it was previously a pub (The Windmill), but now I think it should be classed firmly as a club. There is a fine line and I could make the same argument certainly for Butlers and perhaps TnT and Bar H2O.
Here we indulged in nasty, sickly sweet cocktails, shots and bombs, taking advantage of a number of drinks offers, but on balance would probably have been better advised to stick to something more recognisable. Nonetheless a good time was had by all and we finally headed off to find a taxi around 3:00 am. Not too bad for people of such advanced years.
Previous ‘Research’ trips