Sophie Parkin’s Artist Membership Drinking Club Set To Storm Shoreditch

Sophie Parkin

Sophie Parkin and her Dutch husband Jan Vink, are about to launch a brand new Artists membership drinking club in Shoreditch. Not since the Colony Room-Club closed its doors in 2008 and the Chelsea Arts Club became a clubhouse for seniors has anyone successfully created a dedicated drinking club catering to the new generation of artists in the east.

Sophie, the daughter of the ultra-cool 1960s/1970s designer and editor Molly Parkin has been planning her own club for 35 years, from the time she started to work at The Zanzibar whilst at St Martin’s College of Art. The Zanzibar was the first of the high class late night membership places that went on to spawn a series of babies from 192, Kensington Place, Launceston Place, Alastair Little’s and The Groucho Club.  But Sophie and her friends, when not at St Martin’s College of Art or working at Zanzibar as waitresses and barmen, were hanging out at The Colony Room Club, Ruby’s, Gerry’s and The Green Room; very different clubs.  ‘What I always wanted to do was take bits of each and make a brand new recipe that is anti celebrity(we are all celebrities), formal enough that you want to dress up for parties and dancing, informal enough that I’d know everybody’s name and call them a cab if they needed to be in their pyjamas. A little like a secret society that people who knew about it, knew what they were part of. And now we’ve even got our own language!’

Sophie has managed many Bars and clubs ( The Zanzibar London, 1987 Hong Kong, The Electricity showroom) and restaurants( in London and Sydney)  and has even cooked in some of them(Auberon Waughs-The Academy Club). As head of Performance when on council at The Chelsea Arts Club, she had some of the finest names in performance Art, writing and Jazz appear, from Ian Shaw and Fran Landesman to Rupert Thompson and John Healey to Scottie and Jenny Runacre; she even got the principle dancer from Covent Garden to perform the Dying Swan last year. This was when not writing novels or for newspapers. In 2013 her book, The Colony Room Club- 1948-2008 was published to great acclaim and with it an understanding of what had been lost for so many; a sanctuary for creative people to relax and talk ideas and occasionally rubbish, and where the ego can be left firmly outside the door. Something that she learnt not only from Slim but also her godmother Sylvia Scaffardi, joint founder of The National Council of Civil Liberties(Liberty) –  

The club base that Jan and Sophie have eventually found is in the Crypt of a Pugin church in Prescot st, Whitechapel. Above it is The English Matyrs, a Obliates Roman Catholic Church, administering to the poor of the neighbourhood since 1870 started by the French priest DeMazenod,(we serve only French wine) next door is the Institute of Psychiatrists; both excellent resources for the membership. The age bracket of members is from 20-85, to date. They come from as far as LA and Dallas and as close as Whitechapel and Paris, their countries of origin are as varied as Iran and Venezuela. So far, 85% are visual artists, many jazz musicians, poets, and filmakers but what unites them is an understanding that instinct and a love of silliness is where the most profound ideas originate. Vout-0-Reenee’s is a club house or Stash for people who love the playfulness of language and ideas. The interior is being spectacularly designed (Susan Dalgleish who does Oligarchs houses and cruiseliners), Oriel Harwood is designing and making all light fittings, Morgan Paton and Brian Barnes MBE(Monet expert) are painting our garden room in homage to Magritte and Monet, Tony Common, set designer of The Company of Wolves is doing our hall and bar area, along with Surrealist artists Keeler and Tonnero who designed Noel Fieldings sets. And it’s in the crypt of a Pugin church. The cocktails served will be Rock O La Romance, Cement Mixers, Gate Caressers, Clamstalk Mary (clamjuice bloody Mary). Dutch Neuborg pilsner will be available and Organic French is the house wine . It has no dining room but Dutch tapas nibbles will be served.

“We will be open 5 days a week and never on Good Friday, or Christmas day. We all need a day off,” she told Artlyst. It contains a club room, a garden room and a separate gallery to exhibit members work and to sell it. There is space to hire for private parties or book launches, a separate screening room for filmmakers work and four ensuite bedrooms available only for members, we will also have the valuable resource of Ist Edition art books and novels for sale. There will also be monthly Artist Debating dinners and Performance evenings from Jazz, writers, ballet, singers, poets and performance artists. We have arrangements for our members with both the Rookery hotel and a reciprocal with The Dublin Arts Club. There is cheap close-by 24hr parking and The Whitechapel Art Gallery is 5minute walk away.

Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2014

Vout-o-Reenees opens officially in the Second week of May 2014 Founder Membership (pre opening) is £275 with a one off reg of £175, the Gallery space will open a few months later.

30 Prescot st. London E18AZ 07753702910