Analysing nightclub promo videos: What they really want you to think it’s like inside

None of them made me want to go

People who make club videos treat clubbing like going to the cinema. To them, their videos are trailers, planting in us the uncontrollable desire to see more. They’re there to persuade us that leaving our houses and paying a tenner to spend a few hours jerking around on a sticky floor with a load of sweaty bodies is worth it, on the balance of things.

Sadly, what these people don’t realise is that clubbing is nothing like the cinema. We go to clubs to dance, have sex and change our state of mind: things that require some effort on our own part. Inevitably, these trailers nearly always fail. At best they’re cringe inducing, at worst downright creepy. What follows is an attempt to uncover the doomed motives that lie beneath them.

Level – Liverpool

Mysterious black and white images of Liverpool lead us slowly in, as if in a gritty Arthouse film. “They came just expecting a regular nightclub” the text says, before it cuts ominously to an image of a woman hanging upside down. Are we to feel anticipation or fear? A sense of ambiguity pervades, hooking us in. Later, text appears demanding that we “Join the movement.”

A harmless Facebook icon is placed beside it, distracting us from the phrase’s sinister overtones. We are lulled into a false sense of security. Shirtless males and corseted females thrust showers of fire from their crotches in time to the music’s beat, an attempt to arouse desire in viewers of both genders. The real intent of such sexual imagery is less exciting though: to disguise the truth that those who came expecting a regular nightclub, in fact got just that. There is a DJ, people shuffling in a big space, shots and flashing lights. None of this seems that threatening, or extraordinary, after all.

Factory – Manchester


The King of Monday Nights…QUIDS IN

Posted by Factory Manchester on Thursday, November 10, 2016

Four young women dressed improbably in matching denim shorts and black tops walk hand in hand through the cold Manchester night. The camera lingers predatorily on their bums. Their faces are not shown: they exist merely as objects of straight male desire. Their sole role: to entice the heterosexual male viewer.

The women for their part are allowed to jump the queue. They pose on the sofas laughing, passive and pretty, while other people dance. The female viewer is to be attracted by these small privileges. “I don’t need no money as long as I got you” rings the backing track, tempting the viewer to bury their financial worries in a promised night of hedonistic lovemaking.

The close-ups of drinks running over their rims appeal subconsciously to the male viewer’s ejaculatory needs. At the end of the video the four women leave the club together, holding hands. The camera now framing their full bodies, they stride confidently homewards in an unforeseen image of girl power that subverts the passive objectification of earlier shots. The lyrics now take on a different meaning of female solidarity over male financial capital. Has Factory created a subtle feminist masterpiece?

Y Plas, YOLO – Cardiff

Opening with people hurrying up stairs, the video immediately induces anticipation in the viewer. What lies in wait at the top we ask ourselves?  What lies in wait is something which is possibly the reception of Cardiff Students’ Union and a security guard in a hot yellow fleece. It is unclear whether this sudden transition from the sublime to the banal is intentional.

Through the doors we go, into a room with a DJ who looks like he was hired for the wedding reception at our Aunt’s second marriage. Males shout into the camera, tugging at T-shirts with ‘YOLO’ written on them. “Blame it on the night, don’t blame it on me” the music rings out, prophetically. It’s all a bit wedding DJ contrasting with the hedonistic message of the ‘YOLO’ T-shirts and song lyrics.

Eventually, familiarity triumphs: a table covered with plastic glasses of water comes into view, manned by a grinning Mother Teresa. Girls begin to leave, happily munching chips they’ve not even had to leave the club to buy. With us you’ll be alright, you’ll be safe the video says, because remember we can never be too careful when you only live once.

Soho Rooms – Newcastle

By opting for a documentary style long take, the video self-consciously authenticates its claim to a realist depiction. A realism which is however belied by the predatory camera: it stalks the room, seeking a female target. When identified, it zooms in on her unrelentingly until she reacts. The responses range from gymnastics, to posing, to feigned ignorance at the camera’s presence. The overall aim is ambiguous.

An invitation to the exhibitionist? Bait for the single male? Another challenge to the purported realism is the neon pink glaze which covers everyone’s skin. It’s like one of your friend’s badly edited Instagram photos: a sugared strawberry lace Neverland. Yet still, the genuineness of a few moments is touching.

The guy who has lost his friends shuffling from foot to foot; his eyes locked on his phone screen.  The one who couldn’t fit in the dance circle, holding their drink awkwardly on the side lines. The girl who glumly announces to her friend “I think I’m going to go.” To be honest, it’s the only video that resembles anything close to your typical nights out and it’s this that makes it lovable.

The Space – Leeds

MiX:UP LDS :: Saturdays at SPACE :: Guest DJ Jax Jones

MiX:UP LDS Presents The Halloween Special :: Saturday @ SPACECheck out this Brand NEW video from last weeks party with Chart Topping DJ Jax Jones! (HALLOWEEN ANNOUNCEMENT) This Saturday, we bring you our famous MiX:UP LDS Halloween Special in the Underground. Showcasing the Twisted Fairytale with Halloween Decor, Dead Hosts, Cocktail Cauldrons & many more surprises! This event has Sold-Out the last 4 years, so grab your ticket now!Tickets are essential, get them here –> Info –>

Posted by The Space Nightclub, Leeds on Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The ‘MIX:UP LDS’ logo, appears magically suspended above the queue of people outside. It trembles violently then disappears in a preface to just how crazy our night is going to get, if we’re lucky enough to make it past the huge queue that is. Once inside, the murky room and quick changes of camera angle make it difficult to make out details.

The viewer is left to imagine the unseen themselves, allowing each to create their own bespoke clubbing experience, one which no image itself could live up to. In the few details shown, women dance, whilst men loom seriously over the DJ decks. Even when behind the DJ booth, women dance only. Gender spaces are clearly and rigidly demarcated, appealing to viewers’ need for a sense of security after a tiring week of work. The video finishes with a woman and man leaving into the street, their arms linked. This hetero-normative expression of love comforts us, providing the promise of resolution within a traditionally validated relationship structure.

Welly – Hull

Thanks. It's been awesome!

Posted by The Welly Club on Saturday, November 19, 2016

DIY film making at its peak: you’d expect nothing less from the UK capital of culture’s favourite club. The intermittently green faced crowd is perhaps a nudge to the transcendental possibilities of club culture. The camera rocking from side to side, blurs the viewer’s perception of space, allowing for the creative reinvention of the dance floor.

Possibly filmed on a phone camera, it appropriates an innovative approach to film making pioneered by recent indie releases for the previously overlooked genre of club marketing videos. We can interpret this as an attempt to draw in an artistically informed clientele. The close up of the grinning DJ and later shot of him dancing are perhaps an ironic riposte to the proliferation of DJ culture and a derisive comment on its supposed merits. Evidently, a good time all round is placed above any pretensions of subjective talent at Welly, and if you’re heading there, they suggest you should know that.

Tank – Sheffield

Tchami @ Tank, 29/09/15 *OFFICIAL VIDEO*

FRESHERS 2015 … Are you ready for TANK??Press play and relive last bank holiday's epic CREATION event with TCHAMI!!This is how we do it every single weekend @ TANK!!Like what you see?We have 5 FREE VIP September/October passes to giveaway!To win them, simply do the following -1/ LIKE & SHARE this video. 2/ TAG 4 FRIENDS you'll be taking with you if you win.3/ Join the SHADOW CHILD event page below: luck 🙂

Posted by Tank NightClub on Sunday, September 13, 2015

Where do we begin? Tank’s video is what you get when you try to incorporate every single idea from a group brainstorming session. “We should have a close up of a guy with a topknot queuing outside, to indicate the sort of crowd we want to attract” says someone. Sorted. “What about a pretty American girl saying “Tank is Top.” “Yeah it suggests an international appeal” someone adds, (never mind if what she says actually sounds like “Tank is Trump” which gives the place a totally different edge). Then there’s the incongruously large potted plant, opposite the people queuing, as if this is the local garden centre and they’re waiting around for the cut price pine trees. You vaguely remember someone saying it would evoke Miami.

We haven’t even started on the people. “A girl with sunglasses” someone shouts.  “A guy whose head is LITERALLY pulsating” another interrupts. “What about a guy dancing on the stairs?” “Yeah great idea, and the guy who freaks out when he realises he’s getting filmed.” “Of course! Don’t forget the girl trying to lick another girl’s hair.” “Yeah, yeah great idea, yeah…”

As if the images weren’t overload alone, towards the end Tank literally spells out just how highly it thinks of itself. “Sheffield’s number one underground clubbing venue” the text says, oblivious to the idea that calling yourself “underground” is possibly the most over-ground thing you could ever do. Then it tells us in capitals that the tickets “SELL OUT,” as if this is a miracle itself, not to forget that it has “Led Lighting” (which would be okay if we were buying a new kitchen), but is something we’ve probably never searched for hard when trying to decide where to go out.