IT feels like nightclubs are falling like flies in south Essex.

Sadly, changing times have led to the demise of big names – arguably none bigger than the legendary TOTS, nowadays known as Talk.


Still going - the iconic club of yesteryear continues to buck the trend

Bosses there announced last week how the club’s final night would be New Year’s Eve. Decline in popularity named as the villain of the piece.

It follows other big names like Chameleon on the same road (Lucy Road) and the iconic Dick de Vigne’s in Warrior Square, which is up far sale.

Yet one iconic club of yesteryear continues to buck the trend – the Pink Toothbrush.

Stu Whiffen, 46, promoter at the alternative venue in Rayleigh High Street gave his opinion on what’s hurt the big boys like Talk.

He said: “In the past five years we’ve seen an explosion in online dating and social media, including music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify.

“This means people do not have to go to a club to hear new music.

“Traditionally people would go to the clubs to meet a partner and it was part of being young and enjoying yourself.

“I know so many people have met their partners at the Brush, I met my wife there.

“We’ve seen supermarkets selling cheap beer and young people staying in and drinking while streaming music, rather then coming to the clubs.

“I think that’s why the mainstream nightclubs are struggling.

“We are as sad as everyone that nightclubs are going, and I think it’s tragic what is happening to the Essex nightlife scene.”

Stu feels the ‘Brush is not a competitor to these sorts of clubs.

He continued: “We are not like them. I think some nightclubs are struggling as they are all looking for the same main stream audience.”

Mr Whiffen says the alternative nightclub boasts unique selling points. He joked the name is so ridiculous but has worked for decades.

The nightclub bosses market the venue as the UK’s longest running alternative nightclub, specialising in indie and alternative music.

It opened more than 30 years and the stage has been home to the likes of Blur and Radiohead over the years.

Stu said: “We have a unique style, and style never goes out of fashion.

“We are a strange room, with a sticky carpet but these are selling points and I think the reason we’re still going strong. I think it’s because we are different to other clubs, and I think that’s very important these days.

“For a venue to exist and be successful you have to do something left-field. We appeal to a small group of people but they are so passionate about what we do.

“I hope the future is bright for Essex nightlife and the nightclub culture.

“I think nightclubs need to make serious changes in the way they market and approach the mainstream – and I think supermarkets should rethink their prices for alcohol.

“I also think the rise in gym culture has had an impact as more young people are not drinking alcohol.”

The club boss said the venue is not being complacent and has been looking at new ways to reach out to its audiences.

The management has created a new radio station and podcast with music and interviews with the likes of John Kennedy from Radio X.

The promoter said Pink Toothbrush Radio has been very well received by the loyal customers.

Southend Council has echoed calls to rethink the night time economy following Talk’s demise.

Kevin Robinson, councillor for culture and tourism at the council, said: “I think the situation is indicative of the nightlife scene across the country. I spent several nights when I was younger in the club, but these days we’re much more of a ‘doing’ population. Lots of people enjoy going to take part in lots of activities and get things done and enjoy the thrill of it.

“Not as many people go for the more traditional social scenarios of going out to one location to just sit, chill, talk and drink. It’s very much a do, do, do environment now. This is something we have to take into account as a local authority when we decide how best to invest in the town and use our assets and funds wisely for different social amenities.”

The Pink Toothbrush radio station and podcast are available at