A night in the Vaults

calendar 23 Jul 2010

Walk about 100 yards from the bottom of Newhall Place in the Jewellery Quarter, down a set of steps and through a stone-clad passageway, and if you're lucky you'll hear the enticing sounds of piano and sax drifting from the tiny bar room.

On Thursday, the Substrakt team decamped to the Jewellery Quarter for a strategy away day. We had a massively productive day, ending the evening with a curry before heading off for one last drink in the Vaults, an intimidatingly subterranean nightspot where the drinks aren't fast in coming, but are delivered with a dash of charm.

Almost as soon as I walked through the archway into the bar that was no bigger than an average living room, I was hit by a wall of improvised jazz. Not my cup of tea, but thoroughly enthralling to someone who loves to see people jam. It wasn't prepared - I don't think the musicians knew each other - and little of it was note perfect, but it embodied a spirit which took my breath away, and led to a good deal of shirt tugging from my colleagues who were trying to get my attention.

Although I only managed two drinks in the place, before thinking it was best to shoot off to bed and thus to work the next morning, I felt an unparalleled feeling of relaxation. Sat drinking whiskey with Chris Ivens, in one of the small vaults which give the bar its name, I felt at peace, and not a little envious that the people of the Jewellery Quarter could be treated to such a romantic and eye-wateringly cool venue.

Thanks to the barman for the banter, and to the pianist and saxophonist who let me have a couple of minutes to indulge myself and bang out a few shaky chords.


And thanks to everyone at Substrakt for a top, top day.