10 legendary clubs you’ll never get to rave at
Since we welcomed 2015, two of clubworld’s best have shut their doors for the last time. Two top-rankers from our list of 25 Clubs to Discover Before You Die – Plastic People in London and Trouw in Amsterdam – have called it a day, spelling an end to the legendary parties that happened within their walls.
Sadly, they aren’t the only nightspots to have shut down before their time. Clubs close for a myriad of reasons – licences are lost, leases end, venues shut down – and the most worthy don’t always survive. Here, we pay tribute to Trouw, Plastic People and eight more defunct clubs that will go down in dance music history (and have us wishing we could’ve raved there).
Herbal, London: 1999 – 2009
Shoreditch’s tiny two-level club Herbal was an early incubator for grime and dubstep, playing host to everything from open mic nights for grime MCs to drum’n’bass parties with legends like Grooverider. If you were a bass fiend who listened to Annie Mac on Radio 1 between about 2000 and 2005, the venue had a fetishistic aura that more than outstripped its actual size – a reputation on par with genuine London superclub Fabric.
Herbal lost its licence in 2009, which means we can now accurately describe what the club was like when inthemix visited in 2003: properly dark and grimy, and we’re not just talking about the music. There were dealers peddling heavily-stepped-on powders, dudes shooting up in the bathrooms, clouds of hash smoke in the air, and a real pre-gentrification sense of East London menace.
Oh yes, and a fucking amazing soundsystem playing the heaviest, most bleeding edge bass music in the world, between its downstairs dancefloor dedicated to heavy sounds and its top floor hosting slightly lighter dancehall, hip hop and house. Fare thee well, Herbal; you may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten. [Nick Jarvis]
Tresor, Berlin: 1991 – 2005 (in its original space)
Seminal Berlin techno club and label Tresor may live on at its current home in a renovated powerplant, but there was something very special about the club’s original venue, in the raw concrete vaults of a former department store in the middle of Berlin, a mere stone’s throw from the site of the former Berlin Wall. It was the fall of the Wall in 1989 – and the sudden availability of abandoned spaces in the former-Communist East – that helped Berlin to foster its techno scene, and the original Tresor was right in the centre of it.
When inthemix visited in 2004, the place had a magical quality. First of all, the door policy was come one, come all, and it was dirt cheap: €3 for entry and €3 for a beer. Compared to the extortionate prices of clubs in Australia and the UK, Tresor was an unbelievable bargain. The abandoned department store had been left largely in its original bare state, except for a fantastical outdoor garden strung with fairylights and winding paths.
Upstairs were two rooms packed to bursting with punters moving to tech house and minimal, but down in the vaults – from which the club took its name – was the real action: a pitch black, bare concrete warren of pillars and corners, lit only by the flashing strobe and filled with bald, shirtless maniacs gabber stomping their faces off to ear-splitting industrial techno – the kind of scene that leaves an indelible mark on the memory. [Nick Jarvis]
The Hacienda, Manchester: 1982-1997
One of the most storied nightclubs in dance-music lore, the HaÃ§ienda was the epicentre of the rave revolution in Northern England during the late-’80s/early-’90s ‘Madchester’ era. Opened in 1982, it was officially considered a Factory Records ‘release’ (with catalogue number 051), financed by a collective including Factory impresario Tony Wilson and the members of New Order.
Its postindustrial design, with its harsh minimalism, exposed infrastructure and the iconic hazard stripes on its steel columns, is rather standard for clubs the world over now, but was unprecedented then. The club struggled for years through the postpunk era, even as the likes of the Smiths and Madonna graced its stage, but when in 1986 it became one of the first venues in the UK to play American house and acid, it was suddenly packed most nights of the week.
A generation of clubbers learned how to cut loose to the freeflowing underground sound courtesy of DJs like Mike Pickering and Graeme Park, and the cultural shockwaves began to resonate as local bands like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays took the groove to the mainstream with a psychedelic twist, the Summers of Love kicked off and a generation learned how to rave. England (and the world) hasn’t looked back since. The Hacienda closed in 1997 after losing untold millions. The building is now a trendy apartment block, which probably says it all about where the world is at now. [Jim Poe]