What we’ll miss about a night at the Willow – captured by this wonderful set of pictures

Showing off their Willow stamps with pride… All photographs © Ceri Oakes
26 Jul 2015 @ 6.51 pm
| Entertainment, Food & drink

Sunday saw the Willow’s last stand.

Well technically it was Monday (July 27), as we all know this is one venue which doesn’t really get into gear until the early hours.

Read Ceri’s original article on her photography blog

After 42 years as a Chinese restaurant and disco (and another 30 years before that as a tea room with the same name) the Willow is closing forever.

Press photographer Ceri Oakes was a regular visitor when she was a student. She returned for one last time a few days before the doors shut.

And her wonderful pictures, reproduced with her kind permission here, capture the unique essence of a Willow night. As Ceri writes on her blog

What attracts them in their masses? To me, an avid visitor of The Willow in my student years, its the house party vibe. A small venue, with an interior that hasn’t changed in years, with peeling decor, it’s like going to a slightly scabby house party.

The smell of cooking oil and prawn crackers hits you as you walk in through those magical double doors, and you can’t help but charge straight onto the dance floor before you’ve even considered buying a Sammy B.

So, what are we going to miss about a night at the Willow?

The anticipation

Outside the Willow

Going in

Through the door

The owner Tommy Fong

Greeted by the owner Tommy Fong


Checking we meet the dress code

The dress code

The value for money

The Willow pricelist


Getting stamped

Getting stamped

The mark of a good night

The stairway to heaven

The Willow stairwell

Up and up

Get in there

Ready to party

The various instructions

Pickpockets and slippery floors

Don't forget the handrail

Barred from the bar?

The unique décor

Bird garden
Willow art

Another Willow picture

The sophisticated air conditioning

A fan for those hot nights

Willow window

All the modern conveniences

Ladies only

Gentlemen this way

Very inviting
Something to read too


Decorated by the clientele

Now wash your hands

The unexpected beauty

Willow tassles

Glasses ready for the fray

A decorative touch

Beer that doesn’t touch the sides

Full Fosters

Empty Fosters

Service with a smile

Behind the bar

At full stretch

Food choices: either this…

What do you fancy?

…or this

The legendary prawn crackers

Flinging some shapes on the dance floor

You've got to move it, move it

Tripping the light fantastic

The shadows

Some very different dancing styles

Moving in mysterious ways

The DJ and his cheeseboard

Master tunesmith

Tracking down a favourite

Catching up on the goss

What's new?

Texting the latest

Outta here

What's going down?


A quick round

Two essentials

And more shots

Same again?

The people

A team

All the gang

That Willow feeling

On top of the world

It's a buzz

Happy times

In the spirit

Capturing the moment


Then a spot of supper before home

Food fit for royalty… Oki's Kebab

Goodbye Willow… we’ll miss you

The Willow Disco, York