It’s the small venues in London that give the city its magic, so with Paper Dress celebrating their 10th birthday, they tell us the biggest moments they’ve had to date.
We’re huge fans of a flexible space like Paper Dress, vintage shop by day; venue, bar and place to find your friends by night. With ten years of history the place feels like part of the fabric of the London scene, a slight anomaly yes, an unpredictable venue that will always throw something unusual your way. I mean they even opened a yoga studio, that’s how different they are. With such a milestone on the horizon, we got Paper Dress founder Steve Dix to go through the biggest moments to date. Here’s to many more!
Join in on their 10th Birthday celebration this weekend (November 3rd & 4th), find out more below and grab a ticket here.
Adam Ant, May 2010
Paper Dress started life as simply a vintage boutique in Shoreditch. Business was great for about a year until the recession really took hold and people stopped spending money. We started throwing parties to help pay the rent, moving the mannequins out of the way and putting up a really basic PA and filling bins full of cans of beer – all very DIY. It turned out even in a recession people still had money to burn on booze.
These gradually grew bigger and in 2010 Adam Ant turned up with his band. He’d heard about the first few from some friends and phoned us up on the morning of our event asking if we’d put him on. We didn’t believe he’d actually turn up but sure enough around an hour before his set time he slinked in mysteriously in a hat and sunglasses acting very peculiar. When he finally got on stage his set teetered on the verge of collapse and it was clear his mental state was on a real knife edge – nonetheless you could see the flashes of brilliance in there and how at one time he’d been one of the most famous and charismatic men in the world.
Surrounded by the rails of dresses and people crammed in everywhere the atmosphere there felt really special and set these parties apart from other things happening in the area.
Public Service Broadcasting, July 2011
J. Willgoose, Esq turned up in a little car with a walnut encased computer monitor and proceeded to play a selection of bonkers sample-based electronic numbers with banjo, guitar and theremin – I thought it was just brilliant. It was clear that he should be playing bigger places than in our shop window. I hadn’t imagined though that he’d go on to sell out Brixton Academy and most recently headline the Hammersmith Apollo and tour the world with a full on audio visual spectacular. It’s such great music and the fact that it’s really connected with an audience and grown to what it is today is really heartening to see.
Twin Peaks Party, April 2012
We don’t take ourselves too seriously and have always relished throwing weird and wonderful parties at Paper Dress. This Twin Peaks-themed event was the first of these which really went off with a bang and encouraged us to run with this idea over the years to come. We hooked up with the Double R Club who run a wonderful cabaret evening at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and added an extra bit of professionalism to what we do. The act pictured below features a stripping Shelly and wheelchair bound Leo – it was almost as entertaining watching the faces of people who were walking past the shop window doing a double-take.
Since that first one we’ve thrown a Pulp Fiction party, a Big Lebowski party and have created our own club night called Barbarella Disco Dome which we took to Burning Man in 2015 and will be hosting a room at the 10th birthday party featuring Damon Martin from Disco Bloodbath which is not to be missed!
Slow Club, April 2016
We got kicked out of our beloved Shoreditch home in 2015 due to redevelopment of the building and upped sticks to Hackney Central. It turned out to be very fortuitous timing as Shoreditch was getting completely over-run. Now we were spread over 2 floors we were able to start getting touring bands and do pro soundchecks etc without totally disrupting the shop trade.
We invested in a new desk and a new PA and haven’t looked back since, now working with most of the big London promoters putting on exciting emerging artists and hosting special events for artists who usually play much bigger places. A 4 week residency for Slow Club sticks out as a highlight, they were road testing tracks for their new album and each of the shows sold out and had a very special feel to them with their fans really relishing being up close and personal.
We finished the run with a big after party and have since struck a great relationship with Moshi Moshi who have put on Alexis Taylor, The Wave Pictures, Teleman and others alongside running a monthly night with us.
The 10th Birthday, November 2017
Looking into my crystal ball I can see this is going to be one that goes down in memory for a long time. We’re doing something we’ve never done before and taking over the building next door and hosting 4 rooms. Our neighbours downstairs are letting us use their gallery space to host an adult-sized ball pit and we have lots of other surprises. Over the 2 day party we’re being joined with some of our all time favourite bands and DJs.
Friday night is a Rock n Roll special featuring the wonderful gospel blues of Miraculous Mule, Bare Hunter always tear the roof off with their high octane blues and harmonica driven RnR, and The Future Shape of Sound are quite frankly awesome.
On Saturday it’s a bit more light-hearted featuring Hackney legends The Bikini Beach Band (if you’ve never seen them you’re seriously missing out – THE ultimate party band in our opinion), Bowie-tribute act Cats From Japan (everyone loves Bowie), 60s garage psych rockers The Pacers and then DJs spinning Funk, Soul, Disco and everything in between till 5am.
Keeping an independent venue and business alive for 10 years hasn’t been easy and we’re looking forward to toasting that achievement will lots of friendly faces and a real good time party vibe. Long live Paper Dress!
The Paper Dress 10th Birthday celebrations happen this weekend (November 3rd & 4th). Get your tickets now.