the uk club nights that changed our lives
From Mimi Wade and Molly Goddard to Dexter Navy and Christopher Shannon, we ask some of our favorite friends and family to share a few treasured memories of club nights past.
Hannah Weiland. Photography Angelo Pennetta.
"I loved Gaz's, it didn't really change my life though! But there's a club called the Roxy off Tottenham Court road that I used to go to when I was 14, I don't know if it's still around? I was once dancing when a Nirvana song came on and I got accidentally punched in the nose and ended up in A&E." Hannah Weiland, Shrimps
"BoomBox! I was 20, had just moved to London, was living on Arnold Circus with my best friend, and had been doing fashion at Central Saint Martins for just a few weeks. We made it our unofficial student night, it was packed to the rafters with CSM kids and it's where we all made friends with each other, not in our classrooms. Arnold Circus was just a few minutes' walk away so a group of us would accumulate in my kitchen and then walk over to Hoxton Square together in a drunken gabble with our bras full of cans of Red Stripe to smuggle in (one of my amazing friends could get three down there sometimes). I will never forget those nights, how much a part of something they made me feel in this massive and sometimes lonely brand new city I found myself living in, all the incredible people I got to witness close up, and the lifelong friends I made in that sweating heaving room of divine pounding music." Phoebe English, designer
"There are a couple that spring to mind but Harriet Verney's Pigmee parties at the Kings Head were always very debauched and spectacular. Harriet's topless DJ set was one of many highlights!" Mimi Wade, designer
"Clubbin' in Kent! LOL, sums it all up. AMADEUS, RAMMA JAMMA! I didn't have to travel outside of Medway. Rochester's Amadeus was voted the UK's best one-room nightclub by Zoo or Nuts. DJ Luck and MC Neat played at least once a month. There was a bus service that ran along the A2, stopped at each pub, picked everyone up at 10 and again at 11, then dropped you back at 2:30am. It was perfect if you didn't drive or weren't old enough to. If you went often enough you'd even be allowed in the VIP section. Foam parties and garage was the vibe; I'm sure there were times (years) when I went three nights a week." Liam Hodges, designer
"Maxilla, of course! It was the best! Sometimes overwhelming as there were always so many people outside as well as in — all familiar faces (which is rare). But also there was always enough time between each so that you wouldn't get bored — dancing the night away, crushing, and loving." Nancy Andersen, Babeheaven
"Bristol 2007. Fresh out of school, someone told me what drum n bass and pills were and I thought I had discovered the meaning of life. Tuesday nights we went to this extremely grotty night called RUN at a tiny club called Native where we thought we had made friends with all the resident MCs and sat in the weird back alley chain-smoking with red cheeks and black eyes. I remember it was so sweaty the ceiling would constantly drip condensation onto us, and the floor would be so slippery that everyone would fall all over the place and end up covered in club slime. For some reason I still thought it was the best thing ever. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Native shut down less than a year later. Think maybe we were a bit late on the DnB train." Antonia Marsh, Girls Only
"One of my favourite nights out was at YOYO's at Notting Hill Arts Club run by Seb Chew. Molly Goddard and I went to YOYO's almost every Thursday. Nothing beats dancing in a sweaty basement with your best girlfriends. Sadly YOYO's doesn't run anymore but it will forever hold a special place in my heart <3" Lily Bertrand-Webb, photographer
"I have to say YOYO's, I went every single Thursday from ages 17-19 I think. I was friends with everyone that worked there, loved the bouncers, and used to wait until everyone left and me and friends could dance on the empty dance floor. It was a very fun time I miss it." Molly Goddard, designer
"Hammersmith Palais on a Friday when I was 15. That was major." Lucy Greene, Anti Agency
"When I was about nine, we'd go to Clapham Common and everyone, including a few of my cousins and their mates, used to come back from Raindance and Camden Palace and continue raving on the common. Vans, cars, everyone used to drive over there and set up unofficial sound systems and continue partying late into the night. Because it was on the common I used to go with other family members and experience this spill over from the night before. I used to dance my socks off — I remember everyone was so nice to me, I guess I was a bit of a novelty. I think that's when I really first fell in love with the whole idea of everyone dancing together all different types of people. Another epiphany I remember thinking: 'When I'm big this is what I want to be doing all the time!'
Then, when I was 14, I had my birthday in a club called Strawberry Sundays, under the arches in Vauxhall. It was illegal at that time and was started by a homeless guy called Conan. It was the first time I took an E, the club was full of freaks, the weird and the wonderful. I remember looking around and feeling that this is it, I'm home, whatever happened before now, there is no going back! Going to school on Monday morning and feeling like a different person.
The first time I went to Plastic People, my friend Acyde took me. Moodymann was playing, talking with his syrupy voice over the records. Feeling like I was in this womb, it was pitch black, I was swallowed by the best sound I had ever heard, the crowd was so hyped he played Nina Simone's "See-line Woman" twice because the crowd was losing their minds!" Martine Rose, designer
"Slammin Vinyl drum and bass raves changed my life in 2002 when I was 18 and DnB was actually good. And Squat Parties in London at uni CHANGED MY LIFE. Everyone was equal and crazy was totally acceptable." Madeleine Østlie, AAMO
"I am from the Boombox/Ponystep generation. It was at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. A big celebrity pointed at me and shouted, 'What the fuck is that?!' Back then I was just a student who looked ridiculous. A few years later in my career I dressed that celebrity." Ryan Lo, designer
"YoYo's cause the kebab shop across the road is banging." Dexter Navy, photographer
"I used to love the old Proud in Camden Town before it moved into the horse stables — I remember getting drunk with Amy Winehouse and collecting love bites. I had the worst fake ID which I bought off the Internet." Greta Bellamacina, poet
"To be honest, since the age of 16 I've loved The Warehouse Project in Manchester. I remember taking that 7pm train from Euston to the North after school with my friends, having planned it for months in advance. Drinking cans of gin and tonic from Marks and Spencer on the way up, getting so excited, outfit perfectly selected for hot sweaty messy dancing, and 6 am "I love you so much babe" babbling. I sat on stage for Justice, waded through the crowd during Groove Armada, touched all the lasers at New Order. I just loved it; everyone was so unified in chewing gum and hands in the air "lets fuckin' ave it." I had the pleasure of watching my dad DJ there on Boxing Day year before last, it perfectly rounded off my teenage youth in a way under the backdrop of my hometown Manchester, England's party palace." Grace Pickering, photographer
"Our own club night at Alibi changed our lives because it meant we could print the first few issues of Mushpit. Equally importantly, it was a good opportunity to bully boys into fancying us. Also free drinks." Bertie and Char, Mushpit
"I grew up in quite an idyllic Yorkshire village surrounded by fields, hay bales, and cows. The streets were safe, and the air was clean. The village is called Drax, which I realize sounds like a Transylvanian washing detergent, but this only added to its majestic charm, and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
When I reached that pubescent peak of needing to explore more than drinking cider in a park, and desperately trying to get a girl's number that I couldn't afford to text because I'd spent all my money on that damn cider, my glorious answer came by way of Selby, the nearest town to me, and the home of Jems, one of Yorkshire's most glorious nightlife extravaganzas. Read: the only place that we knew of that 'let in' under age people. By the summer of Year 10, word had spread like wildfire and me and my buddies were desperate to see this beautiful mecca.
As I approached the queue for the first time, I was terrified. Trying to look like I knew exactly what was happening and used to this whole procedure, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and started to play snake. Regretfully the bouncer saw this and immediately asked my age, but the beauty of being the only black person in a 30 mile radius is that the race card will always come up trumps, and flippant remarks such as black not cracking, or 'is it because I'm black' can get you unspeakably far.
Whilst one of my mates was necking some 40-year-old bird, I found the girl I fancied, and yesssss we kissed. It was an awful experience, as it transpired she had promptly been sick down the side of a sticky sofa 5 minutes before. That smell of teenage perfume, vomit, chewing gum and Blue WKD is something that still haunts me to this day. Suffice to say I did not return to Jems." Agi Mdumulla, designer, Agi & Sam.
"I would say it was a Chinese restaurant disco in York called the willow. I used to go when I was 17." Matty Bovan.
"I think it had to be Garlands in maybe 96/97. I was still at school but desperate to be free of it and the isolation of the leafy suburbs of south Liverpool. I'd started going to clubs but was always too young for Cream because I could never get in and that part of town felt quite rough at 15. I'd go to indie places like the CrazyHouse and the 141 Snooker Club and to some of Liverpool's super dated and quite old school gay bars like the Kurzon which was all mirrored and played soft porn, really quite amazing. Then Garlands came along and was like nothing in Liverpool, it was like a secret club, it's the old Eberle Street ballroom where my grandparents had gone when they were dating and you could see the original ceiling moldings above the lighting rig. I remember the first time I walked in and being blown away, the music was always brilliant Scouse House and it was super friendly and felt really safe, although that feeling didn't last long, after a while everyone wanted in. At that moment, it was the place that made the world seem ok after suffering a inner city comprehensive school. It was the first place I met designers and people who where at art colleges and worked in music.
I was this skinny annoying 15-year-old, just desperate to meet people that looked like they were invested in stuff, I'm sure there are videos somewhere. Helen, a girl I met there once, said to me 'Don't you love it here? It's like pure love vibes against all adversity!' It sounds ridiculous now but it was true." Christopher Shannon, designer