As all eyes turn to London for Red Bull Music Academy’s game-changing Revolutions in Sound event at the EDF Energy London Eye on October 13, our resident dance music aficionado, Kate Hutchinson, unlocks her black book of the capital’s best nightclubs to carry the party on at...
Widely regarded as the best club in London, Fabric has been treating the world to the future sound of dance music on its chest-collapsing soundsystem since the turn of the century. While many of London’s larger landmark clubs have come and gone, Fabric has survived on a rock solid foundation of the latest urban beats and treats on a Friday night and cutting edge house and techno on Saturdays. They’ve always stayed ahead of the curve, never compromising on music policy, and their FabricLive pod on the Eye during Revolutions in Sound is a case in point, hosted by Red Bull favourite Hessle Audio and its head honchos Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea.
It’s just one year old but this two-floor, 800-capacity Shoreditch club has hosted nights from some of the country’s coolest parties, labels and DJs in its short lifetime. Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, Hudson Mohawke and Rustie have all picked it as the place to celebrate their album and single releases this month, it’s where former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy celebrated a decade of his label DFA in September, and they have residencies from Low End Theory-rivalling night, SoundCrash, upfront bass crew Urban Nerds and Mylo’s new disco bash Ecstasy, Passion and Pain.
House music was born at Ministry of Sound in London 20 years ago, a club in the arse-end of nowhere in south London in a disused bus garage, as founder Justin Berkmann aimed to bring the razzle-dazzle and exciting soundtrack of New York’s Paradise Garage to the Big Smoke. Tony Humphries was a resident and, notably, the club operated an alcohol-free license for its first three years of dancefloor mania – unbelievable as it is today. These days, however, the Ministry is less DIY firebrand and more a global brand with a massive label arm and venues around the world, which in turn has made it a mainstream dance music superpower.
This south London arch, tucked away in the backstreets of London Bridge, just around the corner from Red Bull Studios, is similar to Fabric in aesthetic. Its brick walls, industrial metal design features and its mezzanine floor filled with sofas, not to mention its varied spread of forward-thinking club nights, are reminiscent of the Farringdon legend. Yet Cable is more intimate and more personal, which means it is well-suited to the deeper and darker sounds of the electronic spectrum. Benji B’s Deviation club night and Goldie’s legendary D&B smasher Metalheadz, who are each hosting one of the 30 London Eye pods for Revolutions in Sound, are both staples here, as is Loefah’s Swamp 81 label and James Ruskin’s Blueprint Records.
Brixton’s Plan B has long been a hubbub for lively hip hop to dubstep south of the river, but fire in 2009 gave it an opportunity to shake up its roster of club nights and introduce some fresher parties like Deadly Rhythm, who put on early shows from the likes of Chase & Status, Rusko and Joker, and London’s best bashment gang, The Heatwave, for the area’s more clued-in beat lovers. At present, lively neon-spattered mash-up night Bump works the Funktion One soundsystem, the sonic equivalent of a rave at Wah Nails and a younger, south London alternative to YoYo, but you can find sporadic parties from Brixton locals (and pod-stars) The 2 Bears and Cream Ibiza-channeling revelers, House Rules.
Another nightclub to turn one this year, The Nest has succeeded in bringing Fabric-sized DJs to a dingy neon light-lined basement club in London’s most creative and leftfield clubbing district, Dalston. Their first birthday line-up this weekend is a case in point: Redlight, Hervé, Melé, Lil Silva, Sampha and Reset! are all appearing over Friday and Saturday, typical of the kinds of party-focused, Annic Mac-approved genre-blurring electro sounds you’ll hear here on any given night. Entry is always wallet-friendly – great for local students – unless they’re hosting secret DJ sets from dubstep chart-toppers Skrillex, Skream and Chase & Status, or electro titans Boys Noize and Simian Mobile Disco, as they often are.
Until now, a hotspot for garage, jungle and old school rave in deepest south London (Vauxhall, to be exact), a new series of club nights, simply called Found, are bringing this underrated space to attention. Programmed by an odd coupling of Urban Nerds’ head honcho James Benenson and Will Paterson, who is behind the phenomenally successful hard house promotion Frantic, these 13 parties aim to celebrate the best of UK bass culture and underground electronic movements, from singer/DJ and Revolutions in Sound pod-host Ben Westbeech’s soulful house beats and the genre-blurring future electronica from the Hypedub, Swamp 81 and Eglo Records camps to dubstep and D&B innovators dBridge and Youngsta.
Everyone should have a messy night out on the tiles here. Or should we say cobbles, as Proud is tucked away in Camden’s Stable Market in a former Horse Hospital along a higgedly-piggedly cobbled path. The emphasis at Proud has always been on indie music – a long time hotspot for the area’s rock urchins – with live acts on most nights a week, but their new series of regular club nights, Ride, Tales of the Unexpected and Bad Sex, open up the (yes, cobbled) floor to lashings of pop, rock, 90s dance and disco hits.
Blink and you’ll miss it, basement club The Alibi lies nestled in-between various Turkish cafés and restaurants along Kingsland High Street in Dalston. You’ll spot it, however, from the hordes of black-clad hipsters piling outside for some fresh air, or queuing up to get in. It may be tiny inside, but its excellent crop of impromptu parties are always worth cramming in for, whether it’s bassline champions Wifey or the ruder garage-y and grime flex of Yeah, Maybe. For shimmering, good looking disco vibes, Coca Disco never disappoints, or you can make a fool of yourself like no-one’s watching at their regular karaoke night every Monday from 10pm.
East London’s Dalston Superstore has breathed new life into the gay scene. All the seedy hallmarks are still there – the sticky unisex toilets, the neon lighting, the door whore with the handlebar moustache and the penis pictures on the walls – but the music policy is above and beyond what you’d expect and attracts a real mix of polysexual posers, art students, bears, muscle marys, Dalston grungers, drag queens, style queens and international hedonists. Upstairs, the bar gets packed with people twirling round to the usual bitchy pop and cheese mix, but downstairs in the rave basement, it’s a sweat-wrapped, pitch-black, tops-off affair, like a scene out of a EBM club in the Eastern Bloc.