simple line drawings of a woman's face on the window of a bar

Korova © Lucy Blakeley

When people identify with a particular scene and demonstrate this identity publicly, more often than not they are identifying with a particular style of music. But scenes are often distinguished through other stylistic features, such as styles of speech, dance or dress.

Some scenes have become famous for their spectacular styles of dress, make-up and other forms of bodily display. One of the most famous examples of this was the Mohican hairstyles and safety pins of the British punk scene of the 1970s. Liverpool's 'scally' music scene of the 1980s, with its association with tracksuits, trainers and football fandom, involved a style of casual dress that was less spectacular than punk but equally important as a means of characterising the scene and its participants. Further information about Liverpool acts and casual fashions is in the Image and Design section.

Style can not only distinguish music scenes, it can associate them with a sense of 'insiderness' and exclusivity. Two contemporary bars in Liverpool provide alternative examples of this.

3345 (Thirty-three Forty-five) is a membership bar and part of the recording studio complex known as 'Parr Street Studios'. The original owner of the bar deliberately set out to establish the kind of environment that he believed would encourage creativity and enable the development of a local music scene. During the early 2000s the bar's website featured photographs of well-known rock musicians lounging on the low-slung leather sofas and standing around the bar. On the homepage the bar was described as the "epicentre of the Liverpool music scene", an "oasis designed for creatives". A press article featured on the website stated "3345 is modern in appearance and free to join, but applicants 'must be the right kind of people'."

Bar Korova is the brainchild of a venture capitalist and entrepreneur responsible for the development, branding and franchise of other Liverpool bars. His intention with Korova was to establish a bar that would act like a club for the local alternative rock scene. To help him he hired as consultants people who were heavily involved with that scene, including the design company Burn Everything and the 'electro' band Ladytron. The band's involvement paved the way for the almost cult status the bar achieved.

With their jet black angular hair and red lips Ladytron promote an image that is reflected in Korova's artistic décor. The bar features vintage 1960s pull-down orange televisions that often display art house foreign films or cult anime. Light boxes adorning the walls upstairs feature an ever changing array of black and white photographs of music icons such as Blondie and the Sex Pistols. In one of the blue leather booths the bar's clientele can consume not-too-cheap drinks accompanied by a soundtrack featuring bands such as Joy Division, Soulwax and other electronic new wave music of late and of old. Internationally acclaimed and up-and-coming local bands perform in Korova's basements and on the small mirrored stage. The bar also hosts sets from sought after artist-DJs as well as after-show parties for bands that have performed at other Liverpool venues.

One regular visitor described the Korova as "a breath of fresh air to those who have spent years returning home from Le Bateau, Barfly and other stereotypically dingy rock clubs with beer soaked jeans and unexplained black filth all over their vintage shoes". The Korova, by contrast, appears self-consciously clean, clinical and effortlessly aloof.

It can be seen from this that the Korova has been designed and promoted as venue for style conscious lovers of alternative music. The success of this approach is evident in the appearance of some of the bar's regular customers, with their asymmetrical haircuts, pointy shoes and vintage clothes. The bar is clearly a place in which they can meet, network, dance, play - and, more importantly - look cool.