London’s club culture is one of the city’s greatest cultural assets.
A matrix of DJs, promoters, producers, and fans, it relies on space – on buildings suitable for purpose – to be able to exist on even the most fundamental levels.
Over the past decade those fundamentals have been put to the test. Noise complaints, heightened security, Form 696 and sky-rocketing property prices placed London clubland under obscene pressures, until it could scarcely cope.
But there are grass-shoots of recovery. The controversial closure of fabric may have acted as the nadir, but the club’s ability to change and adapt has seen it re-open, while the campaign to #savefabric mustered incredible energy.
Cavernous South London venue Printworks is one of the most ambitious additions to London’s clubbing landscape, and their cross-genre season-long programming has helped raise the bar, and restore confidence in the city’s ability to deliver projects on this scale.
But it’s not just large-scale projects that are re-asserting their identity. With Sadiq Khan promising to use his tenure as London mayor to create a truly 24 hour city, he has appointed Amy Lamé as its first ever Night Czar, dedicated to explore the night-time economy.
It’s in this climate that a clutch of new ventures, and a few facelifts, have been announced, as London’s clubland begins to flex its muscles and relax for the first time in what seems to have been an eternity.
The fight isn’t over yet – but these clubs are helping lead the way.
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The sight of SE London nightspot Studio 338 shrouded in belching smoke and leering flames became one of clubbing’s saddest sights. Devoured by flames in 2016, the incident could be seen from sites across the south of the city, and resulted in the arrests of 14 people on suspicion of arson.
Somehow, though, Studio 338 fought on. The team vowed to return, and return they did: the venue’s terrace area re-opened at the tail end of 2017.
February and March finds the club welcoming back some stellar promoters, with Sankeys, Defected, Desolat, and even Space Ibiza all getting involved in the return of a much-loved area of London clubbing.
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Brick Lane spot 93 Feet East opened in 1999, and quickly earned a reputation as one of the capital’s best small clubs. In the past few years, though, it’s earned a somewhat different reputation – nine people were arrested at the East London club on drug offences during a police raid in 2013.
A recent comprehensive refurb finds the club regaining its confidence, however, and the fresh lick of paint has been combined with a fresh outlook.
The full relaunch swings into action at the tail end of January, and the coming weeks promise parties from Belong, Parade, and Vatos Locos, with sets from Jan Kreuger, Dan Lively, Huxley, Binh, and more.
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The enormous rise in the cost of space in London has caused vast shifts in the population. Five Miles is a new venture located in Tottenham, an area where the initial sparks of the London riots in 2011 were first sighted.
This club, though, wants to work with the surrounding community; in fact, they’ll work with anyone who wants to party. A bar, club, and brewery in an area of London all-too-often overlooked, they match excellent food to late night sessions featuring some top names.
Winter isn’t about to put a dampener on the schedule, either – the coming weeks will feature Madam X, Moscoman, DJ October, and more, displaying an admirably open-minded stance on booking.
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Ghost Notes is helping solve one of Peckham’s perennial clubbing issues – namely, the lack of a flexible mid-sized venue. Teasing its opening in the final weeks of 2017, the space is set to swing into action over the coming 12 months with parties from Dimensions Festival, Worldwide FM, Rhythm Section, and many more.
Located in the same ex-carpark that is currently occupied by Peckham landmarks Franks and Bold Tendencies, Ghost Notes aims to be more than just a venue, acting as both a platform and meeting space for the surrounding creative community.
With SE London boasting some of the city’s finest musicians, DJ, producers, and rappers, Ghost Notes’ introduction could scarcely be more timely.
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Wapping is an unlikely site for clubbing resurgence, but the former docklands area is now home to one of the city’s freshest venues. New venture E1 has taken over from Studio Spaces, installing a painstakingly pieced together Funktion 1 soundsystem in the process.
Promising to act as a multi-disciplinary space, E1 threw open its doors for a New Year party and unveiled a 27 hour long line up that spanned the full spectrum of house and techno.
Still early days, but with E1 seeking out both established and new talent from around the globe, and with partnerships with some of the country’s leading promoters, this could be a venue to watch in 2018.
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