Some people give up drinking, others smoking on January 1st. DJ Mag starts the new year in the right way: with a daytime mash-up in a 19th century tobacco storage facility...
London’s clubbing scene is dramatically changing. More festivals and one-off events are happening, the east has become over-populated with ‘deep house parties’, and some of the city's most iconic clubs and venues have as a result suffered. Illegal warehouses still happen but are rare, Ministry Of Sound has faced a struggle to stay alive, Fabric got a shock when their licence was renewed recently, and Plastic People closed after two decades of being one of London’s most influential underground venues.
One new venue that seems to have escaped all the negativity in its short lifetime is Tobacco Dock. Located in the Docklands area of East London, the now multi-purpose venue constructed in the early 1800s primarily served as storage for imported tobacco before undergoing redevelopment in the early 1990s, being converted into a shopping centre before going into administration a short while after.
After changing hands numerous times, Tobacco Dock looks to have found its true calling. Alice Favre, director of operations at London Warehouse Events, tells us how their relationship with the venue all began. “We found the venue whilst walking back to the tube after a meeting. We walked past this impressive, high brick wall wondering what was behind it, only to come to some huge gates where we could see a cavernous, vaulted space down some stairs. We peered through the gates wondering why we had never seen or heard of Tobacco Dock and wondered how to get in touch with them. It took 18 months and two owners before we managed to agree a date for the first event.”
With cobbled streets, fine ironwork, exposed beams and a tangible sense of history, Tobacco Dock — situated between Wapping, Shadwell and Tower Hill train stations — is a brilliantly unique venue that LWE have taken full advantage of over the last twelve months, adapting the building into a clubbing space with three unique dance floors — a chill-out area complete with food stalls and a juice bar, fully working bumper cars, and the now customary VIP area.
“I think the public are starting to appreciate the level of work that goes into an event of that size and scale in such a unique venue that is more than just one or two big rooms. The venue is a maze with nooks and crannies to be filled by staff, decor, furniture or tech,” Alice continues. “We have just bought 2,000 lockers, so we are now the UK’s first promoters to own and use lockers in the UK. After testing the Dutch ones at LWE & Awakenings present Drumcode at Halloween, we decided we could never face going back to using a cloakroom.”
Arriving around 6pm on New Year's Day, Circoloco residents The Martinez Brothers are controlling the main room crowd with a blend of New York and Chicago-inspired house cuts, reminding us at DJ Mag and a packed out dancefloor why they are so highly rated by so many around the world. For those seeking a little more intimacy, Guti in Room 3 has the crowd bouncing raucously to his own ‘Xu Xu Xa’ cut before levelling out the tempo in his typical 4x4 latin-house style. Continuing to tour the venue, we finally settle into the stripped-back, hypnotic beats of Kim Ann Foxman in the long and narrow ‘Car Park’. Found downstairs, it's a raw, intimate clubbing space that hasn’t needed much adaptation. Thin strobe-lights down the right- and left-hand side provide minimal lighting, with the DJ being the centre of attention, slightly above eye level.
Despite the wintry cold following us wherever we go, the main room is sweaty and packed to the brim with joyous revellers for headline act Maya Jane Coles. Maya’s set is impeccable, full of energy and oozing a touch of class that we have come to expect from the Londoner. Max Chapman and Kieran Andrew’s ‘Loving Arms’ goes down particularly strong mid-set, as does the superb Maceo Plex remix of Chelsea Wolfe's ‘The Warden’.
With LEAF and ENTER.London confirmed in March and April, 2015 is looking to be a fine year for the team at London Warehouse Events.
Words: Andrew Leese