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Best Of British: Best Small Club - Corsica Studios, London

South Uprising: Making the 'wrong' side of the river right

While Londoners often congratulate themselves on living in one of the most diverse, open-minded and multicultural cities in the world - a fact born out by its myriad of teeming, forward-thinking dance scenes - there's few who can resist having a pop at roughly half their fellow city dwellers simply for having been born on the 'wrong' side of the river.

Usually maligned for pretty much everything, 2009 was the year that the South was again able to raise a cheer. London Bridge, home of so many acid house legends, made itself known again for more than just shuttling drunken office workers to far-flung parts of Kent, as a host of new venues and parties opened their doors.

But it was around the corner, in an old railway arch off the busy Elephant & Castle roundabout, that Corsica Studios was doing what every great club has become known for - creating unforgettable memories and forging the new stars of the future.

A former art studio space that was taken over by directors Adrian Jones and Amanda Moss in 2002, its status as South London's best-kept secret has been shattered over the last 12 months with more and more curious clubbers risking night buses, late night cabs and their fear of bridges to join a young, fashionable crowd that draws on nearby Goldsmiths and Camberwell, two art colleges adding a Jackson Pollock-esque splatter of colour and edginess to the action.

And for those packing into the club, whose bare warehouse decor harks back to its semi-legal days, albeit now bolstered by a state-of-the-art Funktion One speakers, highlights have included in-house night Trouble Vision's raucous recent first birthday, where Shy FX opened up with classic SL2 rave anthem 'On a Ragga Tip', Nathan Fake's album launch for Border Community, Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's enduringly popular dress-up disco, Lowlife, and a rare appearance from Detroit legend Omar S at Bleep 43, as well as a hilarious Michael Jackson tribute set from Peaches.

"A massive thanks to all the promoters who've believed in us and the music lovers who visited us," says Adrian when we tell him about winning.

"When we first started it was advance ticket affairs only for people who had their own loyal following. The doors closed at midnight and we let people out at six in the morning!

"We've always had this aspect of being off the radar and not really promoting ourselves heavily. It's just been through word of mouth that the right people have been drawn to us. Because of our location a lot of people don't even bother coming so those who make the effort to come really are into the music.

"It's a double-edge sword though. It's much harder to make nights work, but when they do, they work so much better than clubs in town because you don't have that element of random passers-by."

Flagship night Trouble Vision is certainly one that has worked, the recent anniversary leaving 300 disappointed ravers left out in the cold as the venue hit capacity across its two rooms and massive outdoor smoking area, home to TV's silent disco.

"It was a dream come true," says Trouble Vision resident and promoter, Chris Gold.

"Our main focus is always to have an element of fun. So we have The Correspondents, who play swing-hop and dress up as 1920s swingsters, and of course silent disco.

"In terms of the venue, it's just the right size. The way it's laid out is amazing too. The interlinking corridors mean it's always circulating and it's got the nice bit outside. In the main room, when you play in the DJ booth and there's people on the stage, it's like you're surrounded. It's really intense."

Such intensity is also the result of Corsica's enviable soundsystem, a booming crystal clear set-up that has drawn bass-heads such as DJ Pinch's Tectonics night to test its capacity.

"People don't come here for the wallpaper," says Adrian, explaining that without any financial backing, the club is instead a personal labour of love for those involved.

"As artists and performers ourselves, we know what we want from a space and it's the sound.  It's always top of our list of priorities so we've worked hard with Dave Millard and Jason Bacon of Project Audio. DJs love playing here and the people coming appreciate we've invested in because it makes their experience better."

With Prins Thomas's Ekstravaganza residency on 28th November, Bleep 43 with Surgeon on 11th December, and Dirty Canvas vs Trouble Vision on 18th December, Corsica Studios will be keeping their ear firmly to the underground.

"Our own tastes have always been left-of-centre so we've enabled a space to support other people on the fringes," says Adrian.  "It's about supporting new artists and they always respect our integrity."

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  The Other Nominees

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