The closure of Po Na Na, and its replacement with a tiki bar and club Lola Lo, has sparked outrage and upset among students in Oxford.
Tom Larkin, a second year French student, spoke of the unique place Po Na Na held in Oxford. “Compared to the preppy chic of Kukui, the in-your-face aggression of Park End and the arty but sweaty Babylove, Po Na Na was a bastion of good-time enjoyment.
“Oxford students can barely move for cocktails, every time you go out they’re shoved in your face. All we wanted was cheap jagerbombs and some kind of vague, half-hearted Moroccan themed decor. Not to discount Lola Lo straight away, but it seems doomed to fail.”
Larkin compared the distress he felt at the closure of Po Na Na to his feelings the night Princess Diana died. He said, “I have been on hunger strike for 2 weeks, the fact that it is summer vac means nobody has really been around to notice”.
Isobel Ernst, an undergraduate at St Catherine’s, echoed these sentiments. “I think the club’s closure is a great loss for Oxford’s party scene. For us Catz students, Po Na Na was more than just one of the usual Oxford clubs; a night there always guaranteed to be something spectacular.”
However, not everyone will be lamenting the closure of Po Na Na. Marcus Hickman, founder of Eclectric Limited, is a veteran promoter of Oxford’s “alternative” clubbing scene, and currently runs the nights Eclectricity and Fuse.
Hickman said, “I am not surprised Po Na Na has closed, the company as a whole has been on the way out for a good number of years. The club did not play a central part in the clubbing scene of Oxford at all. Its nights were bland and aimed at such general stereotypes; they never worked on the Oxford crowd.”
Dom Conte, one of the founders of Varsity Events Ltd said, “I’ve known for a while that the brand was in decline and that the club itself was struggling. It’s always sad when a venue that’s been around for a while has to close, but I’m not particularly surprised, it was only a matter of time.”
This is not the first time changes to Oxford’s night clubs have split opinion among students. Earlier this year, the Thirst Lodge obtained a new liscence allowing pole dancing and lap dancing on the premises. At the time, OUSU passed a motion condemning the lap dancing plans, and backed protests organized by St Ebbe’s Church, in Bonn Square to oppose the license. So far, it is understood that OUSU have no plans to pass motions about Po Na Na’s closure.
The revamp, costing £200,000, is being carried out by Eclectic Clubs and Bars, the owner company of Po Na Na. Eclectic’s operations director, Lee Nicolson, told Cherwell, “Po Na Na had its run and we are now looking to spread the Lola Lo brand across the country. Oxford has a cocktail-led nightlife, it is very cosmopolitan, and we thought that Lola Lo would fit in well.”
The venue’s official Facebook page invites visitors to “Fly free into a bounty paradise at Lola Lo”. They promise to transport guests to “a tropical oasis where the night goes on and on”. Lola Lo will be running Fat Poppadaddy’s club nights, and is planning to open its doors on 30 September.