This Is Hastings was kindly invited to a preview night at West Exit (formerly The Crypt) which is set to officially open on March 30th.
The entrance (now situated on Roberston Street, between Yates and General Havelock) could be missed, with its minimal branding and black exterior. The black walls soon merge with an impressive open brickwork wall, coaxing you down the amply wide staircase.
The first thing that strikes you on entering West Exit is its scale, although memories of The Crypt are somewhat fuzzy, it feels a lot more open and airy – with open brick divides breaking up the space, and bomb-shelter style booths running down the side.
On closer inspection, it is a vast space – but you have to explore to find this out. Meaning there is no “empty school disco” feel when entering the space at less than capacity.
Rather than tucking the DJ booth into a corner, it is given pride of place running parallel to the dance floor, flanked by a massive sound system that looks like a distant cousin of Optimus Prime – and it sounds amazing!
The space is lit beautifully (both ceiling and floor) by strips of coloured spotlights, with atmospheric smoke subtly seeping out (rather than being intervally hit by the usual toxic gas explosion)
When you’re weary of busting moves, there is ample, stone bench seating skirting the dance floor, as well as in more sheltered, intimate compartments – there’s even raised seating in old chimney stacks … and it heated!
By some sort of technological wizardry you feel a soft glow of warmth emanating from the stone benches, which would otherwise leave you uncomfortably numb.
The low curved entrances offer a very nice aesthetic to the space, as well as shielding the sound if you’re in the mood for a chat – although the taller amongst us will have to stoop to avoid a bruised head by morning … but did we mention the seating is heated!
The staff, although made up of many a familiar face, seem transformed by the simple addition of white shirts / black trousers. Its a small detail, but makes the space feel all that bit smarter.
For many the point of contention with The Crypt were the toilets. This Is Hastings is happy to report that they have been relocated near the entrance, kitted out with stylish industrial sinks and airblade hand dryers.
West Exit is beautifully designed and incredibly exciting prospect for the town centre. Its both classy and ambitious, while still feeling inviting and eclectic. This Is Hastings cannot wait to see this new venue enjoyed by the masses, its going to be big!