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The History of French Touch

french

Nearly all of us has a French friend proud of his country’s heritage, whether it's enthusiasm for expensive wine, stinky cheese, or music. If you’re lucky enough, this friend will beg you to join him to attend a Justice concert while proudly wearing an Ed-Banger T-shirt… Unfortunately, in the worst-case scenario, it seems that our French friends might have abandoned their souls to a darker side, and have adopted the deeply philosophical devise “F*** ME I’M FAMOUS”. Yet the “French Touch” should not be summed to these extremes, the movement has a history, and has evolved in other directions, sometimes impenetrable to the French themselves.

Chapter One: We gave a French Touch To House Music

As many House related stories start, it began in the early 90’s, when the UK born rave phenomenon sailed oversees, escaping from Thatcher politics, and landed in France, unleashing House and Techno sounds from the unknown. At the time FNAC –which was still selling music at this point, decided to give a chance to House music, through an adventurous label called “FNAC Dance Music Division”. Aside distributing the Bleep Techno anthems freshly imported from Sheffield, they supported local artists in order to develop this music as yet in its infancy in France.

This enthusiasm suddenly allowed the French pioneers (Laurent Garnier, Shazz and Ludovic Navarre aka St Germain… to name a few) to polish their unique sound, bringing together Chicago House and Techno with Acid-Jacid, Soul and, let’s admit it, a dollop of cheesy Disco. The UK was the very first country to give French House music some love, warmly welcoming St Germain’s Boulevard album in the more specialised magazines. It didn’t take long for the phrase “We gave a French touch to House music”, to be printed on many French DJs outfits and to become the new genre’s nickname: French Touch.

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When Daft Punk released Homework, back in 1995, the movement kicked off internationally, and when Cassius followed with his album 1999, the major players saw in “French Touch” the next industry cash cow. Let's avoid lingering on the Guettas, the Solves and Sinclars…for now.

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Chapter Two: apogee and decay

After nearly a decade, the early experimentations of the French pioneers influenced a fresh new wave of artists. Former Daft Punk manager, Pedro Winter (aka Busy P) felt investigated from the mission to federate this clique, and for that reason formed the label Ed Banger. Bringing together the crème de la crème of the indie French electronic scene: Mr Oizo, DJ Mehdi, Justice… Together, they perpetrated a sound inherited from the unique House music their predecessors tried their hands at, yet adding progressively more and more cheesy disco into their musical recipes.

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Yet, since this era it’s like the clocks of music history have stopped ticking in Paris and the province. The same names keep on making headlines, and when new ones appear, they seem particularly determined to reproduce the exact same sound. From Kitsune to Bromance, the labels are extremely keen on basking in their screeching aesthetics, forever supported by a halo of inescapable lurid press… whilst Pedro seems passably happy to have his record label’s logo printed on bottles of Heineken lager.

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Final chapter: Rebirth

Please don’t be mislead by my words, the purpose of this article is not to bring French music into disrepute. The French Touch might have sold itself out in the past decade, yet this hasn’t prevented artists all of ages from composing incredible music in France, music that has passed the test of time and eluded the industry’s faux pas.  Let us not conclude without mentioning the remarkable work of the team Infiné -home to artists such as Rone and the audacious work of Concrete Music, who not only looks after a marvellous label but also organises renowned parties in Paris. Let’s also acknowledge the artist Horror Ink who released what could probably be considered as the finest Deep House album in 2013 and in a similar spectrum, Cabanne and his wonderful label Minibar, releasing some of the finest Minimal Techno on the continent. Also note worthy is Marc Antona’s label Dissonant and the even more underground ones such as Holdyouth or Early Dub… and the list could well go on.

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Together, these labels and artists got rid of the exclusiveness of their past and started writing a simple future without all the added marketing to confine their art. They don’t necessarily have the common conscience to belong to some national movement, yet the combination of their efforts make the French capital and the province thriving again. From its scattered ashes, French Touch has given birth to a fertile ground of artists who are overstepping borders to deliver what could be considered as a fine art. French Touch is dead, long life to French Touch.

By Jonathon Greenwood

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Dante Pascal - MEOKO Dance Agent - Episode Two

MEOKO AGENT NO CLICK

Thanks for coming back. You didn’t have to. This week we’re going to put the music business into our mouths and bite it. Some people call it the industry. It’s not an industry, it’s a business. It’s a business about music, and I’m in it. Are you? If not, continue to read.

How do you start? I didn’t fall into middle-age with a history of successful DJs, artists, parties, CD singles and money by thinking about achieving success. I got born, woke up and just fucking did it. I was born with what some people call a love of dance music. When I was delivered in Sandwell Hospital, I remember bursting into tears because I’d been torn away from my mother’s womb, and the relentless kick drum of her heart-beat. I was surrounded by bass in her tummy for nine months and I loved it. Total blackness. I truly immersed myself in the experience. Bedump. Bedump. Bedump. Bedump. Relentless. The sounds up inside my mother were also, in a way, the very first house mix I ever listened to. Seamless, rolling rhythms and textured flavours that gave way to waves of ambient sounds. Little glitches when she burped, farted, shat and cried that added colour. It was all I knew and, as I said before, I loved it. So, you can see why I got so angry after the midwife dragged me out. I remember looking back crossly at my mother’s down-below area and noting that it looked like a big purple corridor. A corridor back to where I first went clubbing.

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 I carried on my love of dance music and clubbing into primary school: I helped organise every end-of-year disco, handing out flyers and promising free pop to the girls in a bid to entice them into coming along. I even gave up the chance to win key-rings and rubbers in countless games of Pass the Parcel by insisting on stopping and starting the music at every birthday party I got invited to. The Stop Start Kid, they used to call me.

By Year 9 in secondary school I was the go-to guy for porn, drugs, sex, dance music and clubbing information. There’s always one. He was I and I was he. I had an encyclopaedic knowledge of what clubs were cool by reading Mixmag and listening to Kiss FM. I knew all about drugs because there was a man my dad knew called Kipper who sold whizz by the little plastic bag load. For reasons I’ve never known, he would tell me what he was doing and threaten to chuck me in the cut if I told any of my mates. I think he enjoyed having someone to menace who couldn’t menace back. I was free with Kipper’s secrets though; it was great for showing off with at school. By the end of Year 11 I’d, ironically, got Es in all of my GCSEs and had, importantly, got a couple of friends called Cookie and Moonhead into early Chicago house music. Academically, they were a bit stupider than me and I tricked them into buying a gram of Kipper’s whizz and taking it all in one go whilst listening to one of my early Marshall Jefferson tapes. They fell in love with the music, decided that they wanted to be DJs and set out on an impressive burglary spree in order to pay for a pair of stolen decks, an amp and some speakers out the back of The Archers. They shoplifted the mixer themselves.

Marshall Jefferson Presents Dancing Flutes - Do The Do

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I don’t know how, but fast forward twelve months and they were on the bill at Soundscape 4000 as DJ Beatz and MC Manipulator – soon to be MC Manip-U-L8R. I wanted in. I knew that I wasn’t going to get a proper job with GCSE Es all over my National Record of Achievements and the only thing I loved more than street crime and showing off was dance music. So, what I lacked in brains and mathematical problem-solving, I more than made up for in street knowledge, cock and ambition. I would muscle in.

My DJ and MC combo friends were top-drawer but I looked at the likes of a young Carl Cox doing exactly what my mates were doing, only a little better, and making thick wads of cash-in-hand cash. I remember thinking to myself, “that fat cunt is rolling in it whilst Cookie and Moonhead are playing for free. Why? Eh? Why?” It was then that I decided to take them under my wing in a professional capacity, write up a legally binding contract, get the two of them well-paid gigs as DJ Beatz and MC Manip-U-L8R and earn money off the back of their talent. And then what?

TIP 1 – Choose a snazzy name for your business

My first business was called Feelin’ It. In dance music you need a name that people are going to remember and identify with. Everyone in dance music has dropped a pill. Everyone who has dropped a pill has said the words, “I’m feelin’ it”. Everyone in dance music identifies with that phrase and the sentiment that it evokes. Feelin’ It folded after six months because I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing. DJ Beatz and MC Manip-U-L8R weren’t as good as I thought they were going to be and I fired them after thinking I was their boss. They lost heart and went on to work as welders for a motorcycle exhaust manufacturer in Walsall.

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Feelin’ It was an ok start but the loud and flashy name that really made my name, and established my name as a name in the music industry, was Clubbin’ UK International Music Booking Agents and Promotions Limited. I started this company on my own, with the money that DJ Beatz and MC Manip-U-L8R got for selling their decks and the cash I “borrowed” from shoppers and weak-looking teenagers out and about on a Saturday afternoon. There’ll be more on the triumphs and trials of Clubbin’ UK International Music Booking Agents and Promotions Limited in the weeks to come.

TIP 2 – Meet the right people at the right time and be kind

I can’t teach any of you how to engineer fate, but it can really fucking help you out sometimes if it happens. Can you imagine what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t bumped into DJ Carl coming out the toilets at Club Kinetic one week after starting up Clubbin’ UK International Music Booking Agents and Promotions Limited? Can you imagine if I hadn’t caught him on a major upper right before asking him to sign for me? DJ Carl was American and the rising star in the Detroit House scene. I managed to force my friendship on him by telling him how great he was, slagging off other DJs, offering to show him around the UK and promising him as much powder and pills as he wanted. Within two years of signing, he went on to make me upwards of five figure sums per annum for six straight years after the success of his top 3 single, Es Are Good, and his number 1 album, The Hexalahedron Papers.

Networking tips

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TIP 3 – Have a great personality

Even if you don’t have one naturally, invent one for yourself. I’ve always hated 99% of the people I meet, but if I see even a crumb of opportunity to prosper on the back of somebody I’ll make out like they interest me more than everyone else. This part of my character came to the fore early on when I started making contacts locally. Take as many phone numbers as you can and stay in touch. Suck up to as many artists, DJs, A&R managers, digital content editors and sherbets with a foot already in the door. Have no shame or self-awareness. My mantra has always been: if glad-handing a cunt gets you one rung up the ladder, then it doesn’t really matter. Know what I mean?

I’m moving house this week to somewhere bigger, so I’ll be on two weeks xmas holiday from MEOKO , back to work in early Jan for episode three.  Have a delightful Christmas and a delicious New Year. I hope that Father Christmas gets you everything your heart desires. Seriously.

 Read Dante Pascal Episode One Here

 Dante

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Dante Pascal - MEOKO Dance Agent - Episode One

Dante no click

When Soundscape 4000 finally ended after three and a half weeks of non-stop dancing and a police raid, I fell down on the frozen tarmac with DJ Beatz and MC Manipulator, unfolded a piece of lined A4 paper out of my back pocket and hastily scribbled down the following with a nearby bookie’s biro:

1. This contract constitutes a complete and binding agreement between Dante Pascal and the musicians DJ Beatz and MC Manip-U-L8R. Agent acts only as agent and assumes no responsibility as between the employer and the musicians.

2. In case of breach of this contract by Employer, the Employer agrees to pay the amount stated in Section 6 (overleaf) as mitigated damages, plus reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and legal interest.

3. The Employer agrees to be responsible for harm, loss, or damage of any kind to musician’s person or property while located at the place of performance.

4. The persons signing for Employer and the Musicians agree to be personally, jointly and severally liable for the terms of this contract.

And so on.

They both signed and we all made a lot of money.


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My name is Dante Pascal and I was there in Dartmouth Park. I went halves and spent forty quid on an ecstasy with Charlie Hodge. I saw DJ Beatz drop Injected with a Poison a full four years before it was released. I heard MC Manip-U-L8R spit “fuck tha police” and “booyakasha” LONG before Craig David was born. I was there at the very coal-pit of dance music promotion in the West Midlands from the very start. In Dartmouth Park. I signed a DJ and an MC to an organisation I hadn’t even started yet. I created a new industry for myself, and others followed: I was the UK’s first dance agent.

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Dartmouth Park had never seen the like before and was never to (have seen the like) again. Soundscape 4000 did not come back to Sandwell; it got massively liquidated the following year after a fire and was rebranded as Club Kinetic eighteen months later.

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I still am a dance agent. I currently represent minimal artist Bill Pitt, minimal techno DJ Dancefloor Busta, minimal house singer songwriter EDManuelle and DJ Slag Hammer: Eastern Europe’s best minimal dub DJ. I, like EDManuelle, was at the bottom when I started. I, unlike Bill Pitt, worked hard. I made it to the top, I fell to the bottom again, I went a bit further down and made my way slowly back to where I am now; not threatening to do anything worth my while anymore but with enough experience to be asked to offer advice on how to make it in the dance music industry on websites like this.

 
Dante

Pascal as Visionary. Look at the hastily drawn up contract I wrote as an eager young minstrel maker. Ok, I’d clearly failed to include a section on travel insurance (literally a schoolboy error) but note how I’d changed MC Manipulator’s name to something a little snappier in the contract. Foresight. Sons and daughters shape the English language and I’m far too humble to say I had a part in changing the way society accepts the use of numbers as letters in text messaging, licence plates and as a generally cool way of communicating.

But I did.

Over the course of the next six weeks I will offer you all the tools you need to make it BIG in dance music promotion and grant you the insider knowledge that simply can’t be bought. You will find out what you need to start your business. I will tell you how to establish yourself and get your name known. You will find out how to stay on top and I’ll warmly welcome you to stop and stare at the mistakes I made. Treat them as a warning.

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I have touched the heights that some of you will not even see. Those of you who do will remember this article very clearly and seek to thank me personally – and to help me financially if need be. I hope to enjoy telling you how to live your lives because, despite the unpleasant depths that regrettably follow the enraptured highs that are part and parcel of being a successful dance agent, I have loved living it.

Honesty is a characteristic I will be affording you more than I ever afforded my clients (pre-2009). I will be opening up to you more than I ever did with my wife and kids. I will tell you things I was too embarrassed to tell my counsellor. I will be Dante Pascal and YOU will be my audience.

Dante interview

Come back next week for episode two.

To-be-continued

Dante

 
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Jive on Madiba 1918-2013

Mandela no click

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Just like a piano, black and white keys are used together to create music, without the one, the same tune and feeling cannot be captured. South Africa suffered under Apartheid rule from 1948 till 1994 and the people, both black and white struggled to create harmony under a white majority rule. Nelson Mandela was a courageous and feisty young man from the rural Eastern Cape who had ran away to Johannesburg to start a new life but here he saw the degree of racism and became involved in the African National Congress (ANC). After many battles he was sent to jail for 25 long, hard years so that black and white people can be friends with equal opportunities socially, economically and politically.

Young Mandela Africa Fighting

As a South African, today in particular feels like we are a big family, as if Mandela was our father and now we are mourning his death. This is true; he is the father or our new democratic nation but I do think that the entire world feels it too. How do you prepare yourself for the death of family member? You cannot. Even though we knew he was very unwell for a while and that this day would come; we delayed it in our minds as a false dream. He has left us with enough inspiration and wisdom to carry on without him and to remember to stay united even under difficult circumstances. South Africa is going through turbulent times with political parties splitting, corruption in government and decisions in the country’s infrastructure causing unrest and anger. Mandela’s death has put that all to a standstill, as if a bomb has dropped and given us a wakeup call to remember what is important – unity amongst diversity. Madiba left me with the best memories of his colourful shirts, his gentle and distinctive voice and of course the Madiba Jive.

MADIBA JIVE 

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Like everyone in the MEOKO team and its readers, we have a passion for music, something we have in common with Madiba. The iconic “Madiba Jive” should be done at this weekend’s events, where ever you are in the world. We say goodbye to a great role model for his ideals of freedom, perseverance and most of all forgiveness. We salute 

By Karo Van Rooy 

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The Rise of South London

Rise of South London Banner

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.

Southron Ambitions...

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.

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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.

corsica bar

Moving Forward...

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... 

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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 @ (https://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.

https://www.clfartcafe.org/

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CORSICA STUDIOS:

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.

www.corsicastudios.com

Corsica Main Room

FIRE:

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. '

www.firelondon.net

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STUDIO 338:

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.

www.studio338.com

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BUILDING SIX:

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.

www.buildingsix.com

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ELECTRIC BRIXTON:

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. 

 
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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. 

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By Seun Mustapha


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