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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 23:38 GMT


Discos lose their sparkle

Nightclubs have a fight on their hands to retain partygoers

Discos are closing as partygoers abandon the bright lights of the costly night club for the more muted tones of the wine bar.

Across Britain, more than 400 nightclubs have closed in the past two years, mainly out-of-town discos. The West Yorkshire city of Leeds alone has 1,700 late-night bars and there is support for even more.

Traditional clubs are being ousted by trendy wine bars and theme pubs offering cheaper drinks, free admission and late-night dancing.

The relaxation of licensing laws means some bars can open until the early hours. Music and dance bars have proved a big hit, even on midweek nights.

Discos were incredibly popular during the 1960s, and left ballrooms and dance halls trailing in their wake.

But their 1990s rivals are now doing the same, offering new, cheaper and better-situated attractions.

[ image: Peter Stringfellow: Too easy for bars]
Peter Stringfellow: Too easy for bars
But the disco may not be allowed to die quietly. London club owner Peter Stringfellow is angered by the demise of the disco and feels that bars are not subject to the same regulations as clubs. "To have a late night dancing licence has been a major thing." he said.

"You have to go to court and get on your hands and knees and show you'll sell food, and the safety which is paramount.

"What annoys me is when these conditions aren't put to the new bars who say we'd like to open till 2am and they're open."

But as people continue to vote with their feet, Mr Stringfellow may have no choice but to lower admission fees and drop his drink prices.

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