The Rise of South London
- Published on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 03:24
With central London venues shutting down and East London's council toughening up, South of the river displays a bright future with a strong crop of clubs urging clubbers to venture further afield.
For years there have been whispers in clubland of a possible move to the South, the opening up of a new frontier for clubland and its more forward thinking artists and promoters. There had always been the stalwarts of the South, the few clubs in around Brixton and the Elephant and Castle battling on - but over the past year or so, with the arrival of a rash of several new large scale venues, the repeated attempts to establish a super-club somewhere in the region of Greenwich, and the re-opening of the East London line , it seems the idea is starting to hold water and the South looks set to rise again.
Slowly, the idea of South London's steady transformation back into a viable central hub for art and music has gained credibility to the point where even the NY times were once again feeling the love, having described a visit to Peckham high St, as “… a countercultural challenge to the established North-of-the-river world of the Frieze art fair and the gentrified East End,”. Deptford, was once again "[an] unpolished location that [comes with the almost heady of urban ingredients: an edge.” LuckyPDF (luckypdfx.com), one such group, a grass-roots collection of artists and musicians are focused on pushing the Southron cause forward by re-establishing the art-scene along with long-time groups like Auto-Italia. Whilst at The Bussey Building groups as diverse as The Soul Train to Warp records stalwarts Plaid all hosting nights in the South.
The South remembers...
As spiraling property prices and increasingly powerful residents associations have ravaged their way through the city centre, the traditional stronghold of London's art-world and its clubland, a new generation of up and comers, having made their home South of the river, have been filling the bars, clubs and community spaces that make up their own local 'manors', giving rise and opportunity to the myriad of promoters and venue owners outside of the holy trinity of Shoreditch, Hackney and Dalston. Taking advantage of the chance to foster their scene safely out of the reach of the ever-expanding gentrification that is stretching out across every square foot of the city centre, demanding the attention of the local councils and noise-hating residents associations that oversee it, promoters are once again able to take the risks and establish new artists and concepts. Those that are willing to travel a bit (even from the North) are faced with a wealth of new and exciting clubbing experiences and promotions. There's the ongoing effort to establish a Fabric style super-club on the South side of the river, namely with Matter and its various incarnations, the latest of which, Studio Six, has been open for business for a minute now and is presenting itself as 'a blank canvas', opening its doors in October to a drum and bass fanfare featuring DJ Fresh, Shy FX and a host of big names from the drum and bass and urban dance scene.
There are also all the smaller venues that have been hosting loads of decent smaller-scale events for ages. The strength of the South has always lay within it's community spaces. The isolation and traditionally bad transport has meant fostering a reliance on mainly the local community to support all but the largest scale venues. Venues that act as theatres, galleries, cinemas, that act as community spaces for everybody, as well as clubs, have always done well, and for the most part, manage to avoid the more South-specific problems that often plague many of the Southron venues and only served to drive everyone to North London in the first place. The Bussey Building is an example of a popular multi-purpose venue, hosting club promotions at night and serving as a bar and community space with some immense views of the city, amongst other things, by day.
With the custom venues that made up the heart of the central London club culture, The End, Turnmills, Home, increasingly dead, or dying and with no end in sight to the ever-rising rents and property prices killing them off, with the myriad of problems only exacerbated by the reactionary focus on hosting "warehouse nights" in badly-prepared, non-specialist "venues", it is unsurprising that the club scene at large is finally ready to make the effort to tread new ground and try things a little further afield. With the attention the Olympics brought to London in general, clubbers and promoters in London are being presented with many new opportunities in the South. The quick and the clever shouldn't bemoan the past, but be quick to adapt and take advantage of what is still here, Remember, it's just a few stops further down...
THE BUSSEY BUILDING:
Also known as the CLF Art cafe', or just The Bussey Warehouse, the Bussey Building has become one of Peckham's biggest draws for the music and creative arts scenes. The building itself is HUGE, hosts 3000+ and features an amazing 360 degree rooftop view of the city. Featuring a hugely diverse roster of promotion and events across the coming months their website @ (http://www.clfartcafe.org/) is definitely worth a look. Bussey is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been before (even if just to take in the amazing 360 degree view of the city from the roof if nothing else), and with Warp stalwarts Plaid touching down in Nov, there's more than one good reason to head South of the river.
You can't say you've done the London club scene if you haven't hit up Corsica studios yet. It has consistently hosted great nights from its opening back in 05' and is still going strong today, which with the amount of dead and dying venues in the city is no mean feat. Capturing the South London and old skool' warehouse party vibe perfectly, Corsica has the sound system, the history and the vibes to hold its own against any of the central based super-clubs. Due to its location right by the Old Kent road Corsica doesn't quite suffer quite so badly from the South Eastern transport problem that plagues so many venues south of the river.
Of course you know about Fire. Home to a veritable whose-who of credible underground promotions over the years Fire, and the Vauxhall scene in general, are in large part to blame for the resurgence of interest in the South. Hosting a variety of flavours throughout the week any sabbatical to Southron clubland must involve a visit to its Mecca. '
Studio 338 is definitely a nice looking venue, with two massive floors and a covered terrace meaning zero restrictions on the sound. It definitely checks all the boxes for a unique clubbing experience, and looks and feels like one of the premier clubbing experiences south of the river. Its location closer to Greenwich village makes travel back across the river much more manageable than from N. Greenwich which is of course a boon for the venue.
Studio 338 a welcome arrival to the area and there are plenty of promotions heading over there. The venue has so far has hosted several well-received nights and also provide BBQ'd food which is always nice. Studio 338 have a lot coming up @ for the full line-up.
If at first you don't succeed... Re-opening toward the middle of October the venue previously known as
Matter Proud2 has been re-branded as Building Six. With the 02 working alongside the London Warehouse Events team directly, Building Six is looking to capitalise on the desperate need for some large-sized, viable warehouse styled venues anywhere in the capital right now. With a huge 3000+ capacity and a refreshingly diverse series of line-ups and promotions already lined up, the plan looks like a good one. Let's hope Transport for London doesn’t pull any engineering work schedule announcements out from nowhere.
As far as reincarnations go, Brixton has seen it's own fair amount of transformation, with the arrival of new, super cool hangouts - plus the restoration of old ones. Set inside a listed building - a former cinema - Electric Brixton's £1m makeover has brought the grand architecture of the structure to life, making good of the old site which fabled (and debauched) club The Fridge stood before closing down for good in 2010. They've since swapped the glow sticks for viewing balconies, beaten up ice boxes for statuesque decor and garnished the whole venue with a top of the range sound system, playing home to the likes of Booka Shade, Gilles Peterson, DJ Hell and many more since its grand unveiling in September 2011.
THE PRINCE OF WALES aka The Lambeth aka Brixton Clubhouse aka Dex:
Who needs the beach, when you've got a spectacular roof terrace? Whatever its name, The Prince of Wales marks a new chapter in Brixton's ever-evolving landscape. Previously housing appearances from Balcazar & Sordo, Andrew Weatherall's A Love From Outer Space, Forrest, Crazy P and Late Nite Tuff Guy, this discerning house-heads venue has seen some changes over the years, but the music policy remains the same - deep, rolling house music of all shapes and sizes. With a 700 capacity roof terrace, a tweaked and customised Turbosound system and the likes of Motek, Troupe and more holding regular day and night parties, you could do a lot worse than this beacon for exciting, underground electronic music.
By Seun Mustapha