Our bi-monthly London venues report.
The Good Ship has sunk. The legendary Kilburn bar will make waves for the final time on October 29th after restrictive new hours imposed by Brent Council and the police doomed the venue.
Owner John McCooke told London in Stereo: “After 12 great years we want to spend these last two months celebrating all the amazing people who work here and the beautiful array of folk who have played, promoted and partied with us. The Good Ship had its own beauty as a cultural oasis in a mostly bland high street. Please come along, tip the bar staff generously and offer jobs to those of us now looking for work.”
The Good Ship was one of the last venues left in Kilburn after both the Luminaire and Powers folded in recent years. “We tried to hang on as long as we could – and we probably would have survived had the council not cut our hours and made our business unviable,” John added.
Over in East London, the owners of the Village Underground are now smiling – despite having to jump through hoops to satisfy the police. But after re-submitting their plans to re-open the mothballed Savoy Cinema as the new Hackney Arts Centre they received the green light from Hackney Council. Shuttered behind heavy iron gates in Stoke Newington Road, the derelict cinema has not seen a party for 40 years. The new venue is being designed to mirror The Roundhouse with its multi-purpose spaces to promote grassroots culture, working with 3,500 artists each year.
There is another reason to be cheerful in the capital as Sir Simon Rattle returns to England to take up the baton at the London Symphony Orchestra this month. The price was the LSO and Barbican agreeing to help create a new £250million concert hall, which is set to replace the Museum of London (which is moving to West Smithfield). The new hall is also backed by the City of London and Sir Simon hopes it finally delivers a ‘world class’ auditorium without the acoustic problems of London’s other orchestral venues. Let’s hope it continues the diverse programming of the Barbican to reflect all corners of the musical world, not just classical.
There’s even more good news as a new warehouse club space is opening in Tottenham Hale. Announced by promoters Lanzarote, the new venue – set to be called Tocar Las Palmas – will hold up to 1,000 people. While the plans are still being finalised on what kind of days and nights will be staged it’s another encouraging sign for London’s music and bar scene.
And partymakers Bloc. have just announced they’ve acquired a new 30,000 sq ft warehouse next to their club in Hackney Wick. “We’re going to be turning it into a complex of studios and workspace for creatives, musicians, and start-ups,” a spokesman said.
But dancers beware! Late night bars are now thriving at the expense of night clubs.
According to City AM, the market share of clubs has decreased for the fourth year in a row due to the change in licensing laws in 2005. It ushered in more late-night bar and pub licences – and punters are clearly voting with their feet. This could explain why major regional club operator Deltic Group – who run Pryzm in Kingston and Unique in Uxbridge and Kingston – recently proposed a merger with student-favourite Revolution Bars. After a few cheap shots Revolution told them to go packing, the BBC reports. Instead, Revolution will continue to discuss a merger with Slug and Lettuce owners Stonegate.
If there’s a final nail in the coffin for any London club it’s the Hippodrome in Kingston. The news came as the leader of local Kingston Council told The Guardian in July that the building’s owners would be transforming it into shops and flats. We asked for more details and the council confirmed that the developers have begun formal discussions – with an application expected before Christmas. Meaning that February’s visit to the Hippodrome dance floor from the mayor’s Night Czar Amy Lamé may not be enough to save the prized club.
Perhaps this is the new way of working in London when it comes to nightlife? Because no sooner than the mayor unveiled his new vision to boost the capital’s 24-hour economy than the police in Hackney slapped local venues with a new ‘night time levy’ to help pay for policing (read more).
A chorus of ‘boos’ followed from Hackney bars that are still reeling from increased business rate demands from the Treasury. And for a city economy that generates more than £26billion during the night it’s a bizarre and retrograde step for the police to introduce their own levy in Hackney.
It means that from November any of Hackney’s 429 bars, clubs, off licences and supermarkets selling booze from midnight to 6am will have to cough up. Perhaps now London’s mega-rich footballs clubs will finally be asked to pay the entire policing bill for matches? Otherwise the night-time levy is just one big own goal for the mayor.
It never looked like it would make its 18th birthday. But it’s time to light the candles for Fabric. The Farringdon club was nearly shut by the police and Islington Council last year after two clubbers died after taking drugs. After a long fight, it re-opened in January with a tough new security regime. And now, its birthday celebrations will feature drum ‘n’ bass mainstays Hype and Hazard, with Ricardo Villalobos, Blawan, Eats Everything and Chris Liebing also joining the 30-hour party which kicks off on October 21st.
Next month also marks the start of a 10-week series of performances at mega club Printworks London with promised ‘tweaks’ to the club’s sound system and a new street food courtyard. The action kicks off on October 7th as Ellum Audio boss Maceo Plex is joined by London favourite Daniel Avery, rising Belgian star Charlotte de Witte and live sets from Vril and Edward. Later, The Hydra team up with Ninja Tune artists Modeselektor, Helena Hauff and Amé for a party on October 21st, before punters raise a glass to 25 years of drum ‘n’ bass giants Ram Records on October 28th.