Too often we are caught in a cycle of negativity and doom and gloom when it comes to London’s nightlife. There doesn’t seem to be a week that passes, that we aren’t informed of a venue coming under threat from developers or having their license put under the microscope from the authorities. From Hackney council’s absurd attitudes to venue’s opening times, to gems such as Dalston Dance Tunnel and Madam Jo Jos being forced to close - it’s understandable why London’s clubbing community often feels under siege.
But although the rate of venue closures is well documented, there’s plenty to be upbeat about as well. Ever-evolving, London is leading the way as a 24hr city fit for the 21st century with several news additions to its late night landscape.
Arguably the one that has stolen the most column inches has been FOLD. Located above a printing facility on an industrial estate off the beaten track on the outskirts of Canning Town, the east venue benefits from having a distinct lack of neighbours. More often that not the root cause of problems, this gives it a massive advantage. Perhaps more amazing is that it has been awarded licensing around the clock. At only 500 capacity, it is incredibly intimate. It even boasts its own on-site recording studios. With a phone policy borrowed straight from Berghain and a carefully considered programme pandering to musos, is FOLD the nightclub London has yearned for for so long.
FOLD has already hosted Ilian Tape’s Zenker Brothers and has some pretty salivating events in the pipeline. Miss Kittin and Eclair Fifi are two of the upcoming guests, but we understand that there could be a very exciting event taking place over Halloween weekend - so worth keeping an eye on.
Another venue to have sprung up making use of the city’s existing terrain, is The Cause. Setting up shop in a former mechanic’s depot, the most refreshing aspect of this Tottenham-based arts project is that it is crowdfunded from within the local community, proving that club spaces can have a positive impact in the neighbourhood. The project also strives to incubate grassroot talent in association with Help Musicians UK and raise funds and support for mental health charities. The likes of Ellen Allien, DJ Pierre, Octo Octa and Felix Dickenson, but this is as much about changing public perception of what a nightclub can stand for.
Next up they have Jimpster, Demuja and Tunnelvisions on Friday 21st September - tickets are on sale now.
Sitting astride of the canal in Hackney Wick, Giant Steps is the latest arts space to open at Brilliant Corners. With an extensive patioed terrace, market stalls, covered indoor area and bundles of character. Having opened across the end of May bank holiday, the space hosts ad hoc events from some of the most invested entities in the industry, including RA and Pickle Factory.
Elsewhere, the team behind the now defunct Shapes have opened The Glove That Fits - a tiny 120 capacity venue for a real personable environment. Set across two floors, above is a café and bar whilst below is the d&b audiotechnik-powered basement. Things shouldn’t be judged on size alone - and The Glove That Fits is a testament to that.
South London has been equally keen on getting in on the action with the arrival of Ghost Notes in Peckham. Again, unusual in its premise, the venue occupies the fifth tier of a multi-story car park - giving it that authentic, rugged inner-city ethos. You’re unlikely to find big names here, with operators Parched London instead opting to focus on local talents.
Finally, we come back to Hackney. With a courtyard overlooking the canal, Studio 9294 is equally adept at hire for a club event, photo shoot, business functions or even weddings. Those high ceilings and a whitewash blank canvas aesthetic, mean that the possibilities are endless for any promoter with big ambitions.
All there is left to do is to go and support these independent venues. London claims flagship venues such as fabric, Studio 338 and Tobacco Dock. But we must ensure that we look after the smaller, community-based venues as well. The fight is not over yet.