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Blast Off! MOS Opens Bar

Ministry Of Sound opened its first Minibar at the end of March in Harrogate, north England. It marks the beginning of a revolution for Britain's high streets.

Is it a bar? Is it a club? Is it a spaceship?

Most of Minibar's invited guests were scratching their heads last night as to why Ministry Of Sound would open a
cutting-edge nightclub in the rural
town of Harrogate, north England.

After all, Harrogate's population of around 50,000 are not the usual people to attend the superclub in London's Elephant & Castle.

But this is no ordinary Ministry Of Sound.

The opening of MOS' new bar concept marks the beginning of a revolution for Britain's high streets, and represents an aggressive movement by the clubbing giant to become a major bar chain.

Ministry Of Sound: Minibar
Walking towards Minibar in the rain, it's clear that they mean business.

The queue stretches around the block, door staff greet customers with umbrellas, and turn away anyone who isn't wearing their most posh clobber.

"You aren't in London now," says a doorman disapprovingly, upon inspecting DJmag.com's trainers.

Quite. Harrogate is a far cry from London's rich, diverse bar scene.

"You know there's like, 12 bars in Harrogate," slurs an ex-public schoolboy chum in our ear.

"But if they let the right people in, and provide a good service, this will be the best place in town."

Ministry Of Sound: Minibar
Richard continues by bragging about how he's already spent 500 quid on spirits, but complains that some pesky punters have invaded his pre-booked, private booth and broken some champagne glasses.

Superstars

A sign by the entrance states that Minibar wants to make its customers feel like 'fucking superstars'.

There's a jacuzzi, hanging chairs, a massive chandelier, VIP areas, touch-screen computers replacing waiters, and a kick ass soundsystem.

The 750 capacity venue is exquisitely decorated with glass, metal, leather, and fur, which all contributed to the estimated refurbishment price tag of £2m.

The selection of drinks is excellent (raspberry Sambuca anyone?), the bar staff are attentive and friendly, and the music is a perfect mixture of Hed Kandi style funk, old skool house flavas, and Balearic beats.

Ministry Of Sound: Minibar
Speaking of Hed Kandi (who were recently bought by MOS), there's a straight-out-of-heaven, pure white 'Kandi Bar' area downstairs complete with giant leather beds.

The room could easily be one of the sophisticated bar illustrations that Hed Kandi are famous for.

"A Reason To Dress Up"

The crowd are older, elegant, and affluent, and all have made a huge effort to dress for the occasion.

"Harrogate is pretty pretentious, so Minibar is great for the town" explains a local girl, thumbing her cocktail stick.

"It's given us a reason to dress up.

"Here we can dance, socialise, and
drink, without having to travel all
the way to Leeds."
Ministry Of Sound: Minibar
Minibar's VIP guests are able to order drinks and book cabs via a touchscreen panel on their table

Doorstep

The city of Leeds is about 25mins drive from Harrogate, and has one of the UK's most exciting club scenes.

Previously Harrogate's population had a bit of a mission on their hands if they wanted a big night out, but Minibar has given them a quality night out on their doorstep.

There'll soon be a Minibar near you too – this is the first of many Minibar
projects that are currently being
developed by Ministry Of Sound.

Minibar will offer an alternative to the homogenous bar chains that dominate our high streets


Tony Rigg, Ministry Of Sound

"We'll definitely have another Minibar open by the autumn, and maybe one or two more ready by winter," reveals Ministry's Tony Rigg, the man overseeing the Minibar operation.

Tony won't name potential Minibar sites, but explains that they're currently looking at opening about 20 nationwide.

Nearly every city and big town outside of the M25 is being considered.

"Minibar will offer an alternative to the homogenous bar chains that dominate our high streets," says Rigg.

The venue of Harrogate's Minibar used to be owned by a major bar operator – Bar Med.

But unlike the bland, identikit service offered by Bar Med, Minibar feels like it could be an upmarket New York cocktail lounge.

Attention To Detail

Its attention to detail and commitment to high quality, means it might possibly revolutionise Britain's high streets, and become a saviour for punters with no choice but to drink themselves into a stupor.

There's some good clubbing to be had at Minibar too: the small and rectangular dancefloor has a shockingly loud soundsystem with a large DJ booth.

Although Minibar is not music-led, there are plans to bring in guest DJs for special occasions, which will definitely see this part of the club oversubscribed.

The intimacy of Minibar, and the fact that it features a variety of different areas to match the moods of clients means that it is bringing something new to the high street – a more mature and stylish alternative to the cheesy, meat market, drink-all-you-want-for-£3 bars that surround us in 2006.

Minibar has taken off, hold tight.

www.ministryofsound.com.