At the end of last year, The House of Song opened its latest venture, the non-stop, late night, audience-requested live music venue Studio 88, in the middle of London’s entertainment district, on Whitcomb Street, just off Leicester Square.
This is the second site following the success of its first live music concept, The Piano Works in Farringdon. The name, Studio 88, is inspired by the many creative studio spaces in London’s West End and the fact that there are 88 keys on a keyboard.
We were invited to come along to find out what it is all about a couple of weeks ago and are happy to report that we had a fantastic night.
So, what is it all about? And how is it different to so many other bars and music venues?
Studio 88 is different in that the fantastic six-piece house band, made up from the over fifty musicians Studio 88 employs, plays non-stop live music, that you, the audience, control. There is no set playlist, you just let them know the songs you want to sing (and dance) along by writing your request on a piece of paper and the two pianists, drummer, guitarist, bassist and horn player let rip.
When we were there the music ranged from 60s to current songs, Bowie to Spice Girls, Van Morrison to Daft Punk, and the crowd pleaser ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus. Millennials were singing and dancing with Generation X and Baby Boomers and everybody seemed to know all the words, even to songs that are half a century old.
There are light-up, musically-synced tables and state-of-the-art LED lighting designs that respond in accordance with the band’s melodies making it a totally immersive experience.
Dancing and singing makes hungry and thirsty and Studio 88’s food menu is California Cone-based – bamboo cones filled with fresh and vibrant Californian-influenced ingredients. You can choose from various meat, fish, vegetarian and allergen-free cones such as miso pork with black bean, quinoa and chipotle yoghurt; coconut chicken curry with sticky jasmine rice, coriander chutney with cashews and crispy fried onions or the veggie shiitake mushrooms with curly kale, garlic, tamari and sesame seeds. Guests can purchase them individually from Studio 88’s usherettes (£3 -£7) or book a table and enjoy a set of six cones, including one dessert cone and a glass of prosecco for £25. Sharing Slates with chicken skewers, beef burger sliders or a dim sum selection are also available. Please note that at weekends there is a minimum booking requirement for food bookings.
The cocktail list, The Autograph Collection, is inspired by the world’s most famous recording and filming studios including Pinewood, Abbey Road and Motown’s first headquarters, Hitsville USA – with experimental and molecular concoctions. Or choose from House of Song’s Signature Collection featuring reinvented classic. Of course, you can also just have a beer, wine or soft drink.
Private bookings, corporate events and theatrical parties for up to 100 are welcome in Studio 88’s Blue Room with its own bar, grand piano and DJ station. You can also sign up for the Can’t Sing Choir and Cocktail masterclasses.
Please note that Studio 88 operates a membership policy and you have to join the Friend’s List to gain entrance and let them know in advance of each visit. A door fee of £10 applies from 10pm on Fridays and 8pm on Saturdays. The Friends List will allow half price entry first hour after the charge begins. It does however not give priority entry.
Studio 88, 47 Whitcomb Street (next to Leicester Square), London WC2H 7DH
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