If you've been reading the music press lately you'll have noticed the slew of bad news regarding various London club institutions. That is; Madame Jojo's having its license revoked, Fabric placed under renewed licensing pressure, and, of course, Plastic People shutting its doors for the final time. The closure of the Curtain road establishment - so vital musically, home of the legendary FWD>> to name just one example - was terrible news, and at a time when London seems to be dulling down, and giving over to the sort that would be satisfied with a £12 vodka cranberry at Funky Buddha on a Friday.
But a city's nightlife isn't made up of the distinct buildings themselves - it's their inhabitants. So let's not lose hope, and remember that London is actually packed full of amazing and consistently great club spaces. Without further ado, here's seven of our best...
Total Refreshment Centre, Stoke Newington
TRC is one of Stokey's most criminally underrated spaces. Nestled just off the well-known Stoke Newington Road/Kingsland High Street promenade, it's been operating since 2012 in an N16 side street. What was originally a Jamaican social club became aptly transformed into a crash pad for budding musicians, filmmakers and studio sloths just over two years ago. Aside from the main recording studio - that houses analogue synthesiser toys and an extensive equipment set - the main room is a sweet spot for small to mid-sized charades despite its makeshift interior. My first visit was back in November when Ekkah engulfed the main room with pop-funk tones, pink helium balloons and psychedelic projections. Naturally, they're not the only ones to frequent the premises. Boiler Room arranged an Ariel Pink session in the middle of a massive, pink parachute there and Mr. Gilles Peterson's borrowed the main suite to usher in 2015. Essentially, it's a haven for anyone curious enough to stray from the main beaten track à la The Alibi and co. - Errol Anderson
Although my love for Birthdays stems purely from the run of Boxed instrumental grime nights over the course of 2014, there's still a lot to be admired about the club itself. Small, dark, low-ceilinged spaces with a decent system are becoming something of a premium in London and although admittedly it's a bit weird navigating your way through the city boys and girls frequenting the upstairs bar, the basement feels proper. It's the place I'll always remember first hearing Murlo's 'Rhythm N Gash' refix and watching Logos play one of the weirdest and best live sets I've ever seen. Boxed bias aside, it is a space I'll always love experiencing new music in. - Tomas Fraser
Canavan's Peckham Pool Club, Peckham
A magical and mysterious place exists at the very end of Rye Lane. Authentically drab but with a charismatic charm, Canavan's boasts a scruffy allure. There are many reasons why you might find yourself wandering down the long corridor entrance; one could be the venue's long standing bi-monthly night, Rhythm Section Dance. Stumbling in on a weeknight will result in finding the pool hall busy with a range of clientele, with the regulars easily distinguishable as they display their putting talent on the well-maintained green felt. For those who lack the attention span or talent for pool, the ping pong table is a welcoming alternative. Still not sold? Perhaps the Sunday night karaoke to sing away the last hours of the weekend will do it. The crowd are an assorted bunch of varying levels of drunk, age, gender and sexuality, and the locals see their haunt transform itself into a welcoming arena for all, which could either be due to the unpretentious attitude or the cheaper than most booze prices. One piece of advice though, don't fuck with the felt. - Isis O'Regan
Studio Spaces E1, Wapping
Fought over, secured and nurtured by The Hydra, Studio Spaces now stands as one of the best (and most interesting) clubbing spaces in the capital. Tucked away in deepest darkest Wapping (nowhere near as far out as it sounds), Studio Spaces is the closest we have to a European-minded dance floor; everyone's there for the dance, they know who the tracks and they know the DJs.
It might have some teething problems but that's all part of having such a raw space (3 warehouse-like rooms each with their own flavour). A photo-studio by day, it was never built as a club. Accidental moments like the house-lights going up on a 5am crowd to reveal a bunch of confused ravers under the luminous lights makes the point they go out again, hiding all sin and sweat so triumphant. It's an achievement to have this incredible space as somewhere to party. We salute you! - A. Nonymous.
Bussey Building, Peckham
Back to Rye Lane for another jewel in Peckham's crown, and this 120 year-old multi-level concrete block is not only a nighttime haunt but a creative arts centre - showcasing theatre, film, art and comedy. For the crate diggers it houses Rye Wax in its basement below, but Bussey is best al fresco in the summer months when you can enjoy the 360 degree views from the rooftop, and wave at people sipping Aperol spritzes at Frank's nearby. Friendly security, a non-pretentious atmosphere and regular parties such as The South London Soul Train make for a south London favourite. You'll find a cutting edge array of artists on its line ups, with Madam X, Andrew Ashong, Moxie and Eglo's Alex Nut gracing its rooms in January. - Felicity Martin
Shapes, Hackney Wick
Currently a warren of warehouses and makeshift performance spaces, Hackney Wick venue Shapes is a rough hewn gem. Formerly a dance studio and gymnasium, the large space has a rare flexibility which canny promoters can utilise to their advantage. Pleasingly diverse – recent guests include Paul White, The 2 Bears and members of the 1-800 Dinosaur collective – the wide open booking policy makes for an engaged but party-ready crowd. Nestled away in a far corner of East London, it sidesteps the hype but retains a connection to the local creative community. Hell, Shapes even hosted a grime-inspired roller disco in 2014 – truly, this is a space where anything goes. - Robin Murray
No 'Top London Clubs' list would be complete without a tip of the hat to the brick-walled bass dungeon that is Fabric. Often disorientating, always dark, this labyrinth (originally built as a Victorian meat & poultry storage facility) snakes through three rooms, hosting top DJs that'll make your body wish it could split into a triptych. Daniel Avery enjoyed a residency there last year, while you'll find Craig Richards and Terry Francis bossing things on a Saturday. Bar prices are high, but the 15 year-old venue guarantees you big names, 400 bass transducers buried in its floor and a multitude of shadowy corners for teeth grinders to hide their eyes in. It's also unique in that it searches you on the way out as well as in, in an attempt to locate thieves and keep clubbers safe. - Felicity Martin
Honourable mentions go to Corsica Studios, Mascara Bar, Dance Tunnel, Hysteria, XOYO, Oval Space, Plan B and Great Suffolk Street Warehouse.