These are the last ever tracks 7 iconic clubs played before they closed
Photo credit: Sam McDonald
Last week, Carl Cox ended a highly emotional last-ever party at Space Ibiza – a party which featured many all-time club classics, from Joe Smooth’s Promised Land to Donna Summer’s I Feel Love – with an unusually low-key selection: Angie Stone’s bluesey 2002 garage vocal Wish I Didn’t Miss You. It was a brilliant way to wind down all the feels of the night and of Space’s 27 years.
It got us to thinking about last records at famous clubs. It’s always a bittersweet affair when a beloved venue closes down – especially when it happens for economic or political reasons beyond the proprietors’ control. But a last chance to dance also provides an occasion to celebrate all that a club space has meant to fans and to the music scene.
And the resident DJ or iconic guest who closes it all out reaches into the deepest part of his or her crate for the last tune – very often avoiding 4/4 beats or even dance music at all – to blow minds and reduce whoever is left on the floor to a puddle of emotions, as they all contemplate the passing of time and the inevitability of change.
With that in mind, here are the weird, wild, eclectic and emotional last records at seven legendary international clubs that are no longer with us.
#1 Paradise Garage, New York
The Trammps – Where Do We Go From Here
Widely considered to be the seminal club, as well as the birthplace of house music, the Paradise Garage ran from 1977 to 1987. Its last-ever party was a 28-hour affair that was “something akin to a battlefield, as not many of us were able to stand let alone dance anymore,” according to one witness.
Accounts vary, but legend has it that Larry Levan, whose marathon sets at the club were so definitive that “garage” became the name of an entire genre of dance music, ended a mythical epoch at 2am on a Monday morning with this aching 1975 Philly soul number. Sadly, Levan passed away just five years later.
#2 The Shelter/Vinyl, New York
Kings of Tomorrow – Finally (Danny Tenaglia Return to Paradise Mix)
The Shelter, later operated under the name Vinyl, was one of the club spaces that defined the 90s and early noughties in New York. With its copious dancefloor and massive speaker stacks towering over the dancers, the Tribeca venue was a formative stomping ground for the city’s underground from house to techno and rave; and was famous as the location of the N.A.S.A. and Body and Soul weeklies.
At Vinyl’s last-ever party in 2004 (the owners were forced to sell out to a big-time real-estate developer), New York legend Danny Tenaglia fittingly ended the night after multiple encores with this 2000 anthem. With its soul-searching vocal, it’s always a go-to record to find that sweet spot between celebration and melancholy (Carl Cox also played a version of it towards the end of the last party at Space Ibiza).
#3 Honkeytonks, Melbourne
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
The fabled Honkeytonks epitomised the loosey-goosey early noughties in Melbourne with its weird contrast of upmarket and sleaze; many nights found world-class DJs like Carl Craig and Derrick Carter DJing in the ladies’ toilet. The closing party went on for 40 wild, debauched hours after New Years’ of 2007; resident Michael Delany ended it all by playing Led Zep’s supreme classic for “the happiest and saddest people in the world.”
#4 Trouw, Amsterdam
Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Patrice Baumel Club Edit)
By all accounts Trouw was the place indeed. Seth Troxler said, “It will go down in the history of our times as one of the most notable spaces, like a modern-day Paradise Garage.”
After six years as one of the most influential and sought-out clubs in Europe, it closed its doors after a 35-hour last hurrah in December 2014. The last track to pipe through Trouw’s famous Funktion One system was Patrice Baumel’s edit of the Talking Heads’ synth-laden 1983 classic This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – which was, fittingly enough, played at the Garage in its day.
#5 Plastic People, London
Spirit of Love – The Power Of Your Love
This righteous 1978 disco-gospel stomper was the praiseworthy last record played at Plastic People by Floating Points (AKA Sam Shepherd) at its legendary closing party in January 2015, for which he shared the decks with Four Tet.
After that epic moment raised its profile, the record was reissued by Glasgow soul and disco label Athens of the North. You can listen to the entire six-hour back-to-back set from Floating Points and Four Tet here, while pouring a drink out for London’s best small club.
#6 Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
God – My Pal
One of many Sydney venues to struggle in the wake of harsh lockout laws, this beloved multi-genre, multi-purpose basement space ended its five-year run in December 2015 with co-owner Jimmy Sing playing the 1987 Aussie punk classic it was named after. God was a short-lived garage band made up of teenagers from Melbourne whose roof-raising debut single, recorded as a demo, became an enduring hit; its crunchy, fuzzbox-laden sound presaged the 90s era of grunge and indie.
You can listen to Sing’s final Goodgod set here. Fun fact: Goodgod also derived its distinctive typeface from the cover of God’s single. Fun fact #2: My Pal was also the last song ever played at The Tote in Melbourne in 2010 – covered by the Drones, with Joel Silbersher from God on vocals – in the midst of that city’s own battle against unfair licensing laws.
#7 Space Ibiza
Angie Stone – Wish I Didn’t Miss You (Pound Boys Stoneface Bootleg)
After a 16-hour closing-night party, Carl Cox ended Space Ibiza’s 27-year reign as the crown jewel of clubbing on the White Isle with this subdued soulful-house classic from 2002. For those who were there or watched the stream at home, it was a wrenching moment, as the 54-year-old icon seemed to be saying something about the impending twilight of his career.
Bonus: Two weeks prior, Cox ended his last-ever Music Is Revolution Tuesday-night party at Space Ibiza – for 15 years, one of the most renowned parties in the world – with The End by The Doors.
Jim Poe is a writer, DJ, and editor based in Sydney. He tweets from @fivegrand1.