Thanks to popular reality TV programme The Only Way is Essex – or TOWIE, as it’s known to fans – the county of Essex is known for its unpretentious, fun-loving approach to partying. If you’re planning a night out that’s really outside-the-box, escape London for one of these trendy Thurrock hotspots and get ready to hit the dance floor, Essex style.

Thurrock’s a thriving business hub in its own right – it’s part of the Thames Gateway regeneration area – but most residents spend their days working in London. Nightlife is totally different from anything you’d find in the Big Smoke, with a notably local vibe and more bang for your bar tab, so it’s no surprise commuters choose to head home before they go out on a Friday evening. Whether you’re in town on business or escaping to Essex for a weekend of fun, there’s plenty to see and do in Thurrock. The borough is cool enough to have its own Apple store – the tenth UK shop opened at the popular Lakeside Shopping Centre in 2007 – and a Vue cinema for those quieter evenings out. But if it’s a party you’re after, we’ve got you covered. This is our ultimate guide to a trendy night out in Thurrock. 

Good for the soul

Good old-fashioned 70s soul is alive and kicking in Thurrock, with regular events at the Civic Hall and local clubs drawing a dedicated crowd from the borough and beyond. See for yourself by attending a Five Star Soul at Goldmine night at historic Orsett Hall. Reminiscent of the legendary Goldmine nightclub, today’s hottest soul DJs keep the dance floor moving until 2 am. It’s a strictly over-30 scene, so expect a laid back atmosphere and a lot of good laughs. And if that’s not enough to get your fill of funk, check out Soulful Seduction at the Treacle Mine in Grays. Hosted by DJs MJ and Bully, it’s a regular celebration of classic and modern soul, with a few disco anthems thrown in to keep the crowd smiling. 

Viva Bas Vegas

When locals want to party, they head east to Basildon’s Festival Leisure Park. It’s known throughout Essex as “Bas Vegas” thanks to a wealth of American-themed entertainment including a Hollywood Bowl, Chicago’s Rock Cafe and the New York New York nightclub. Make Chicago’s your first stop on a Friday or Saturday night – happy hour cocktails are just £2.50 until 10pm, so you can sample the best of the bunch. Then drop by the late-night party at New York New York and hit the Saturday Night Fever-inspired dance floor – Essex is all about disco.

Bring your entourage

If a night in Basildon sounds like a little too much Essex, check out the VIP area at Entourage. Just a stone’s throw from our Park Inn by Radisson Thurrock, this is the only place to be in Grays on a Friday night. The club attracts some of London’s coolest DJs, and booking the private area for your group means access to table service and plasma screens, so you can toast to the evening in true TOWIE style.