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Newly refurbished, seaside haunt The Arch aims to return Brighton's underground to its former glory...

Brighton seafront has long played host to some of the nation's best musical talent, and few places carry such a rich heritage as recently re-established venue, The Arch. Previously known as The Zap, Digital and Coliseum, The Arch opened its doors once again back in March, christened by Berlin duo, Pan-Pot.

“Initially the appeal was the historic side of the venue,” owner, Sammy Verghese tells DJ Mag. However, it's not just the past reputation of the space that Sammy wishes to revitalise. “Five or ten years ago, Brighton was renowned for independent venue owners and always pushing the boundaries; but it's become very corporate and commercialised,” says Sammy, who hopes to return the whole city to its rightful place as a hotbed of underground talent.

To do this, Sammy has invested in refurbishing the custom-built, 12KW Funktion-One soundsystem, originally installed a decade ago, and decked out the DJ booth in pedigree equipment. Aside from a slight edge towards the “warehousey” look, Sammy assures us the club's previous aesthetic remains mostly unchanged, and the focus is on the “quality of the music, quality of the production, and quality of the atmosphere; rather than what colour the paint is!”
The Arch is already attracting a lot of attention from some of the hottest names on the circuit. Coming up over the next few months, the likes of Carl Cox, Black Butter Records, Secondcity, Eton Messy and RSD will be gracing the stage.

But as excited as he is about the big brands and headliners, Sammy's real passion clearly lies in supporting the locals and helping them thrive. “I'm a Brighton boy,” he states, proudly. “We want to do something for the community, as well as do something for the UK. Eventually we'd like it to be a destination venue, but we also want to make sure we're not forgetting where we're from and what our roots are.”

Working closely with national promoters, Sammy hopes to nurture Brighton's underground through support slots. But that's not the only trick the bossman has up his sleeve. Attached to The Arch is an additional 115-capacity venue known as The Hub, running under the same license, but being treated as a separate space, mainly for after-parties. “We hand that out to loads and loads of different South Coast or local DJs trying to establish a name. We use it as a sort of incubation space for The Arch,” says Sammy.

“BeAvantgarde — who are a local set of promoters and DJs — they started in The Hub running a Friday after-party. It got a good following in Brighton and blew up, so we've given them a chance in The Arch. They've brought down Steve Lawler and they've got Leon from Music On at the end of the month. So we try to encourage that whole local side of it as well, we don't just want all those big guys coming down and headlining The Arch, we want to give a chance to everyone.”