‘Dress to impress but don’t need to conform’ says alt club founders

Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith
Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith

What began as a fun project by two friends has started a life of its own as Luton’s only alternative LGBT club night celebrates its first year.

Wanda Smith and Oliver Brown are the brains behind Club After-Life. It is broadly described as an alternative club night with elements of Goth, Punk and 80s New Wave music thrown into the mix.

Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith

Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith

But trying to pigeonhole the club and the people that go there into any particular category is a lost cause.

The club, they insist, is inclusive of everyone.

Wanda, 30, said: “I admit it, I wear high heels, corsets, make-up, lots of veils, black fishnet tights, and people love it.

“I would say dress to impress, but don’t feel you have to conform to anything.

Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith

Oliver Brown and Wanda Smith

“People come in and sense the atmosphere and think, it’s OK to be like this. They’ll be curious more than anything.”

Long-haired Oliver, 27, added: “A lot of the students that have come, none of them have dressed up but they’ve had a great time anyway.

“People will come to a scene, experience it and see if it’s right for them.”

Wanda identifies as transgender and plans to have gender reassignment surgery in the future.

The club queen first met Oliver around six years ago while at university. They became reacquainted in 2012 and began to toy with the idea of starting their own club.

Club After-Life began in March last year and is now billed as the number one alternative club night in Luton.

Wanda said: “We did really start it for our friends. In the year or two since the last alternative club closed people really did miss it.

“We said that if this was a success it would be a bonus, but at least we’d have a place for our friends to hang out.”

The duo enlisted DJ Alex Cameron to provide the unique club mix – with an emphasis on 80s synth and industrial music.

Alex said: “Luton’s always had a good alternative scene. It’s only the last couple of years it’s been without. The main aim of it is having fun.”

Club revellers have come from Luton and surrounding areas, London, Bedford and Cambridge.

When not gracing the Goth scene, Wanda works as an NHS office manager in Stevenage, while Oliver works at the University of Beds.

Both describe a contrast between their day-to-day lives and running the monthly club nights.

But for the time being, Club After-Life is building upon its reputation on the alternative club scene, and is steadily attracting a larger audience.

Club After-Life’s First Anniversary Party begins at 10pm on Saturday March 28. Entry is £5 and the venue is Sub2 at Park Street, Luton.