Our bi-monthly check in on London venues, featuring form 696, night-time levy, The Joiner’s Arms, G-A-Y, Field Day, Passing Clouds, The Nines, Studio 338, E1, Tocar Las Palmas, London Symphony Orchestra.
Ding dong – Form 696 is dead! After years of complaints from music promoters, the Met Police’s ‘risk assessment’ form in 21 boroughs has been scrapped. The bureaucratic process has long been accused of targeting underground artists unfairly – especially DJs and MCs. Since 2005, the controversial document – denounced by many as a “racist” way of targeting artists – required promoters or licensees to supply the names, stage names, addresses and phone number of every artist at an event. “Thankfully we have seen a reduction in serious incidents at promoted music events, particularly those involving firearms,” said Met Police Superintendent Roy Smith.
All eyes are now on the Mayor’s office and its pending London Plan, set to be released this month. It hopes to encourage town hall planners, licensing and noise teams to create more ‘positive’ policies for the night-time economy. The Mayor’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, told the Evening Standard: “We’re at a real crisis point in losing our venues. These businesses are facing problems around development, the rise in business rates, rent rises and increased business costs.”
Meanwhile, the London council drawing the most heat for its attitude towards its local venues and events is Hackney. It introduced a ‘disastrous’ night-time levy this month to pay for extra policing in certain areas of the borough. Now the council is inviting you to have a say about its new licensing policy. A special event will be held at Hackney House on November 22nd as council officials will explain what’s in their latest draft (reserve your place here, as soon as possible). They tabled a new policy back in 2015, but it was withdrawn after errors in the consultation and anger at its prescribed hours for nightclubs.
You know the situation must be bad for London venues when major labels agree to put their hands in their pockets. But that’s exactly what Sony is doing to help save grassroots venues. The record giant made an ‘undisclosed’ donation to the charity the Music Venue Trust in the hope of creating a ‘game-changing’ shift to support struggling independent small-capacity venues.
Two LGBTQ+ venues have recently won notable victories with the help of their local councils in the capital.
The Friends of the Joiners Arms celebrated after securing a late licence for an LGBTQ+ club for 25 years at the current site of The Joiners Arms in Tower Hamlets which will be redeveloped. The pub was shut in 2015 after it was sold to Regal Homes. Amy Roberts, co-chair of Friends of the Joiners Arms, said: “This is an important victory for the LGBTQ+ community, not just in Tower Hamlets, but across the whole of London. What today shows is that dedicated citizens – sharing a common purpose – are powerful and can win big, against overwhelming odds.” The group says half of the capital’s LGBTQ+ venues had closed in the last decade.
And in Soho, club G-A-Y has been granted an extended licence until 4am by Westminster City Council. In return, the owners must shut their sister venue in nearby Old Compton Street an hour earlier. The move hopes to ensure that its owners can keep the iconic Soho venue open after its landlords increased its rent by a ‘ridiculous’ £400,000 a year (read more).
Our favourite long-running Victoria Park festival, Field Day is ‘upping sticks’ and moving to a new home after giant corporate promoter AEG moved into their old one. The line-up for its 10-day All Points East festival has been announced. Its mid-week ‘community focused’ events in the Tower Hamlets park will be bookended by major weekend gigs featuring The National, Bjork, The War on Drugs, LCD Soundsystem and The XX.
Could the now-shuttered Passing Clouds in Dalston be making a comeback as a music centre? The Hackney Gazette reports that the owner Landhold Developments via its proxy Landcom North London has submitted plans to re-open as a ‘hub for music activities’ while adding a new storey to the roof. The venue was bought in 2014 and members of the arts centre were evicted last summer. Watch this space.
Another venue is shutting. This time it’s The Nines in Peckham. The club announced it’s closing after the landlords refused to renew its lease. “We are sad to go,” the venue said. If you’ve not paid a visit, their nights hosted by eclectic Latin re-issue label Mr Bongo are not to be missed.
There’s finally some good news over at Studio 338 in Greenwich after the club’s terrace was destroyed by a fatal fire in 2016. It claimed the life of 338 employee Tomas Ceidukas. The club’s music and events director Dan Perrin paid tribute to Tomas by saying the re-built club now has ‘his smile at its centre’. German DJ Sven Vath led the first party at the reopened venue, which now boasts an acoustically-sealed glass box covering its terrace for the first time – much to the delight of its neighbours.
Over in Wapping, E1 will open with a 27-hour party on New Year’s Eve. Details are sparse – but the new late-night electronic music venue will be filling the space of a former factory and joins Printworks in Surrey Quays to help rival Berlin with a spate of industrial spaces being reinvented as clubs. DJ Mag reports that E1 will boast a bespoke Funktion-One sound system.
Not to be outdone, the new warehouse club from promoters Lanzarote is set to open this Saturday (November 18) in Tottenham. Dubbed Tocar Las Palmas, it will beckon a new series of pop-up events at the 500 capacity space in Ashley Road. The first gig takes place on December 2nd with TOY and special guests wishing promoters Bad Vibrations a very happy fifth birthday.
Vince Power, former Mean Fiddler boss and current owner of Nell’s Jazz & Blues club in West Kensington, has been granted a licence to re-open the former Subterania club under the Westway. According to the Evening Standard the club – which shut its doors in 2003 – is part of his plans to return indie gigs to this corner of west London. The 600-capacity club in Acklam Road opened in 1988 and hosted Eminem’s first UK show and was a BritPop favourite. His application to Kensington and Chelsea Council was successful despite significant objections from the local MP and many residents, who complained the venue was unsuitable for the densely-populated residential area.
And finally, architects have been announced for the new £250million concert hall in the City for the London Symphony Orchestra. The New York City firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro have won the commission, according to the Architects’ Journal. The hall will replace the Museum of London – which moves to its new home on the site of Smithfield Market – and was part of the agreement which saw Sir Simon Rattle leave the Berlin Philharmonic and return to Britain to lead the LSO.