Is it worth the bus ride? PRYZM Kingston
For any Roehampton student now well-versed in the trifecta of RSU night-time events, (i.e. you’ve mooched for cigarettes in the prison-style courtyard of Infernos, awkwardly balanced a fishbowl while boogying to some remix of “Eye of the Tiger” at the Clapham Grand, and been shooed out of BOP at approximately 2AM just as you were getting your sway on) what is the next step? Where should be your next great adventure into the South-West London nightlife?
I review for you now the rite of passage all Roehampton students must take to be truly initiated as a weary club-goer: PRYZM in Kingston.
It’s 10:45PM, you’re about to hit that sweet spot in the pre where you wonder ‘what’s the point in even going out?’ when your flat rep starts demanding you chug back your drinks or awkwardly funnel them into a disposable plastic bottle. As sustainability officer, I do frown on this practise, but understand it’s an integral ritual for any journey to the club, however I will offer the sustainable alternative of smuggling mini, glass bottles; I still have mine from my first PRYZM visit, it means all you have to buy is mixers. Perhaps I shouldn’t write things that will get me flagged at PRYZM security, but I see this honesty as journalistic integrity TYVM. The next step is your flat rep herding you down to the 85 bus-stop at Medfield Street, and warning this will feel like the longest walk of your life, you will regret not having chosen housing at Whitelands and contemplate if you could have done a Sports Science degree. The return walk after the night-out is somehow even worse.
You get on the 85 after six years of waiting. This is where everyone pairs off into discussion and, believe me, you’re speaking way louder than you think. Some friendships will be formed for life; secrets and crushes will be revealed; strangers will stare. After a further nine years on the bus, you finally arrive at Eden Street. If you’re partial to wearing heels, I beg you, stay on the bottom of the bus, because trying to walk downstairs during that sharp turn is a sobering experience that will undo all your hard work earned playing Piccolo.
You trot down the street, past the far more tempting Wilkos (wouldn’t that be a club and a half) and approach the start of airport security. Like with airport security, do not forget your ID- for those of you that hail from small towns or lenient second cities, there is no talking your way into a London nightclub. I learnt the hard way. You show your passport; you put all your valuables in a plastic tray; you walk through the metal detectors; you let the security guard pat you down. This was bizarre to me, however, once you make it in, behold the PRYZM Kingston interior. For a second, you could be fooled that you’ve stepped into high society, with wall-sized, ornate mirrors, high ceilings hosting golden chandeliers, and a veranda that leads to more rooms that you might imagine lead to even more grand affairs. You would be mistaken, but you can still imagine it.
When buying your ticket, I opt for buying on the door. I have been countless times and, quite honestly, I have no idea how much it costs. It’s never been enough to flag my frugal outrage, I am LIDL personified, so I doubt it is more than six pounds. There are different price variations online, all dependent on the day of the week, time, groups, etc- for the ASDA-hearted people of the world, entry before 11PM on a Wednesday is £2.50 and includes a free drink. Wednesdays are the best bet for students, any Kingston local I’ve spoken to visibly cringes at the thought, but it’s their cheapest night and- AND– on occasion they serve literal toast for free on the bottom floor, with chocolate spread, jam, or butter. Hell yeah, am I right? If they’re not serving toast, usually there is some form of competition or sign-up sheet where you can earn drinks tokens, which vary from a full drink, a la a vodka coke, or to the dismal “cocktail shot”, where you get all the discomfort of drinking a shot with the vitamin benefits of fruit juice.
For cloakroom, my club allies recommend our old trick; bring a rucksack, shove in all your coats, six coats as one item. I believe otherwise they will get you for the exorbitant fee of £3. They will accept cards.
Your jackets packed away, you’ve a wee slice of toast in hand, and that cocktail shot has given you just enough energy to start boogying- let’s go!
The following rubric is subjective ranking; to see the more objective, yet still not very factual, Instagram poll I took, scroll to the bottom.
CREEPY VIBE: 4/10
At this club I have spontaneously been pushed against a wall, had someone try to shove their hand down my dress without so much as a “howdy”, and that bottom dance floor is a hazard zone for unwanted grinding. Some nights you go unbothered; some nights it is just a parade of bullshit toxic masculinity. My one piece of advice is to stay with people, because most incidents I experienced happened alone.
DRINK QUALITY: 6/10
Brought down purely by the “cocktail shots”. Other than that, harmless enough drinks, your classic club spirits and mixers, although I have never been brave enough to ask an overwhelmed bartender to make me a “Sex on the Beach”. The range of drinks was no “granny’s house on Christmas” level of variety but could be worse. Typical really.
DRINK PRICE: 7/10
This would be a 3/10 anywhere but London. I would compare London prices to anywhere else on New Year’s Eve.
Plenty of bathrooms and all usually clean. The lighting isn’t perfect for a sneaky photo with your gal pal, but its flattering enough that you won’t go back on the dance floor feeling like a gorgon. They also weirdly match the foyer style, with elaborate wallpaper and gauche, ornate décor.
SMOKING AREA: 3/10
This isn’t quite as bad as Infernos, but it is smaller. You feel less like you’re living under Marshall Law, but you are concerned for your purse and risk getting cigarette burns up your forearm. Little seating, no heaters, let alone a bar. When will South-West London nightclubs catch up and learn that the smoking area is half the club experience?
SURFACE HYGIENE: 4/10
No club will even hit 6/10, lets be real, so all considered this isn’t as bad a rating as it might seem, it is just that I refuse to allow for relativity in my scoring. Don’t lean your forearm on the bar, odds are 50/50 that you’ll be mysteriously sticky for the rest of the night. Couches usually aren’t too bad; however, I wouldn’t like to see them under normal lighting. Floor is sticky in parts, carpet in certain areas seems like an interesting choice.
There are three main floors in PRYZM Kingston… I think. The laws of physics cease to exist in PRYZM, so there could be as many as forty, however these three stuck out to me.
Cheese Floor 7/10
Named for the music, not the smell. ABBA, power ballads, ABBA, movie soundtracks from the 00s, ABBA, all things 80s, ABBA… You get it. The floor itself is elevated, with an external circle of carpet, couches, and leaning points. The bar is your best bet for a short queue. There is also better mobility, so getting to the middle of the dancefloor and off again is less claustrophobic. If you like to dance like nobody’s watching, even though some time the odd creep will be luring around the edge, then this is the floor for you. They do not take requests.
Grease Room 2/10
The bottom dance floor! Dark, muggy, and overcrowded. I felt dirty in this room. They have a big bar, which is the only place to redeem those bloody cocktail shots. I wouldn’t recommend for anyone to dance on this floor unless you want unwarranted groping. Comfy couches, though. The least safe place for a boogie, even if you’re with a group.
Cleese Room 6/10
I never manage to stay more than five minutes on this floor. Why? Some weird, fish-like, innate sense to keep moving through, that this riverbank is not for resting. If you asked me to draw a picture of the room, I would manage a few ornate railings and a vague sense that the wallpaper is red. I think it’s too bright, the seating area too quiet, and the music is… some genre? Again, after countless visits, all I can remember is a weird vibe. The upper deck is a comfy spot, especially if you’re sober or want to get your chat on. But again…
LOCAL TAKEAWAY 4/10
All I can ever find open is a chicken shop directly across the road, which has amped up prices given the location. I am certain if you venture further, you’ll find more choice, however is it worth shuffling through the cold streets of Kingston? Straying even further from the 85 stop? If you want to be savvy, fill your takeaway basket online at the bus stop and order it as you get on, and by the time you’ve sprinted back to campus it should be at the gates. I’m never usually savvy enough for such schemes, I will be lured into getting a two-piece and chips, and while I can never remember the price, I know any time I have paid I have done so begrudgingly. Otherwise I would firm it. The chicken is dry and the chips– I could write a whole article about my disgruntled opinion on take-out chips, now is not the time.
SPECIAL SOMETHING 4/10
PRYZM is bog-standard, what more would you expect from a club chain? Their theme nights are something interesting, but even then, their Valentine’s Traffic Light party last year promised wristbands and all we got were stickers that were impossible to identify by colour under the club lights. If you’re looking for a “different” or “special” night-out, this isn’t the one. But it is a place that with the right people, you can have a brilliant night.
CHEEKY INSTAGRAM POLL SCORE: 6, 8, 1.5, 5, 7, 5.5, 7, 7.5, 1000, 4
The club closes at 3:30AM, with dancefloors shutting down one-by-one. Your journey back will be long, and I beg of you, please don’t leave alone. One time at the 85 bus stop a strange woman started trying to touch my friend’s face. You shouldn’t be alone for an experience like that. I usually keep a head count and tabs on who I can; if you do go home with someone early, message the group chat and share your live location! Any night-out will be rubbish if you don’t stay safe.
Make what you will of PRYZM Kingston but do visit. Love or hate it, it’s a Roehampton must, and it’s a perfect place to make memories. Good, bad, and ugly.