Tag Archives: club culture

Happy Birthday Dalston Superstore

How time flies when you’re having fun…

Outside Dalston SuperstoreSeems like only yesterday that still-coolest-venue-on-the-block Dalston Superstore opened its doors for business. In fact, we were there a few days before those doors were even screwed on properly… downstairs at the pre-pre-launch party. We were convinced then — and time has proven us right — that Superstore was more than a little special. Our photo, above, showing amongst other early birds, BST Co-editor Anne-Fay and friend Tom Hopes, even ended up in a Vogue Italia spread on new cool London…

So… Happy Birthday, Superstore!

Read the interview we ran with Superstore founder Dan Beaumont back in 2009, and the feature-ette that Superstore ran on BST’s very own Darrell Berry, earlier this year…

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Dalston Superstore: Opening Soon

Legendary East End nightclub brands team up to build a new venue. We’re excited.

Located as it is, half way between Angel and Hackney, Stoke Newington and the City, Dalston has traditionally been ‘a place on the way somewhere else’ rather than a destination in its own right. With an East London Line tube station set to open there next year, and a sometimes-brutal wave of gentrification underway, all that’s changing. The outside world has discovered Dalston.

But, eclectic music lovers, ignore — if you can — the tribes of wannabe Broadway Market coffee-shop hipsters, avert your gaze from the Friday-night mobs of Fulham-ite boys and trustafarian girls on Kingsland Road, and add ‘E8‘ right at the top of your list of ‘must-visit’ London postcodes. Cafe Oto is a Wire magazine-reader’s dream of a venue, legendary jazz bar The Vortex is now ensconced in Gillett Square; and over the past couple of years the fire-trap basements of Shacklewell have hosted, for those in the know, the best underground parties in town. The most famous night to emerge from that scene is Disco Bloodbath, justly fêted for great sound, below-any-radar vibes, a friendly, mixed crowd and (need we say it) disco, disco, disco.

Now the people behind DBB have teamed up with the creators of legendary Shoreditch club Trailer Trash (which has just celebrated its fifth birthday), to build a brand new café/bar/venue — Dalston Superstore — which officially opens this week, just north of the Rio Cinema.

We’re tipping the Superstore as a landmark new venue for East London clubland, and caught up with DBB’s Dan Beaumont to ask him a few questions about the venture:

BST: Who’s involved in the Superstore?

DAN BEAUMONT: This is a joint venture between me and the Trailer Trash boys. We’ve been looking to start our own venue for a few years now — it’s just taken a long time to find the perfect spot!

You’ve got a pretty eclectic mix of people involved, from both sides of the disco/electro divide. How did you all end up working together on this?

We’ve all known each other for quite a while. I’m not sure there’s really a ‘divide’ as such — there’s loads of cross-pollination between the various subcultures of East London. Disco and electro are really just two sides of the same coin.

Why Dalston? Why now?

When we started Disco Bloodbath in Dalston we realised how many people live around here with nowhere to go. Shoreditch has become so saturated with bridge and tunnel that loads of interesting, creative and socially adventurous people have ended up around here.

The Dalston scene has been very much about underground parties at secret venues. How does it feel to be building a ‘proper’ venue from scratch, that’s actually on the map!? Do you think this is the end of the Dalston Underground, or will you still be doing basement parties as well?

We’ll always aim to showcase varied and cutting edge music. That’s all we can really aim to do. In terms of what is or isn’t ‘underground’ that’s not really for us to judge. The only way we can move forward is to keep music at the forefront of our venue. We’re not really interested in chasing trends — if you start down that road you can never win!

Which parties will we see running nights at the Superstore? Who would you most love to have behind the decks for a one-off?

At the moment we’re taking it one week at a time! We’ll obviously be throwing Trailer Trash and Bloodbath flavoured parties but we’ll also be showcasing local heroes, established DJs and upcoming talent. We’ve already got a few of our favourites pencilled in… you’ll have to wait and see who they are!

We tipped up at Hot Boy Dancing Spot’s hardhat-and-hi-viz-themed pre-pre-pre-launch party at the Superstore at the weekend. Still a building site, the space worked brilliantly (though some aircon downstairs would be a blessing!). We’re looking forward to the finished product.

[Big thanks to Dan for this interview. Photo © Darrell Berry. And, yes, that's a picture of someone flaunting power tools on a dancefloor...]

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(Just Say ‘No’ To) Form 696

Running a club night in London will require reporting of all acts and ‘target audience’ to the Met. WHAT?

Indeed that’s the case, under new plans from London Police. Event organisers in 21 London boroughs are requested to ‘co-operate fully’ with police, by completing the new Form 696 before the event, in the interests of ‘risk assessment’.

Requested are not only details of promoters and onsite security, but also the contact numbers and real names of all performers, description of the ‘expected audience’ and the genre(s) of music expected to be performed, the examples given on the form being bashment, R’n’B, garage. No surprise then that many feel the Met is actually planning to use this data to focus police attention on clubs where such ‘dangerous’ forms of music are to be played, as well as for the profiling of the scene(s) and communities who organise and attend.

According to early reports, the form also included questions about the ethnicity of expected audiences. The current version on the Met’s site doesn’t include such information, so we can’t comment on that.

Concerns have been raised by many, including once-Undertone Feargal Sharkey, who now heads up the music campaign organisation UK Music. There’s a petition running on the 10 Downing Street website, a FaceBook group has been set up, and the mainstream press are paying attention.

Simply misguided urban policing, or the precursor of some modern day version of the 1994 Criminal Justice Bill’s rave-busting criminalisaiton of ‘repetitive beats’? Watch and wait. More importantly, act against this.

[Thanks for Helen Noir for tipping us off to this]

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Nuke Nuked

New rave experiencing same problems as old rave with the old bill.

Buster Bennett (previously of legendary Hoxton nights Antisocial and Family) has been running his latest night, Nuke Them All, for a while now. But he’s got a problem — he can’t keep a venue. Nuke was initially hosted at the charming Bethnal Green lapdancing joint, Images. But then the council got wind of it and pulled its licence. So it moved to The Edge, a basement venue on Commercial St. The council did the same thing (do they have clubkid spies or something?) So Buster, showing typical clubland enterprise, moved it to an an abandoned pub. Y’know, like the rave kids do. Then the police shut that down too. Buster’s positioning of Nuke as ‘the most lawless creative gathering ever’ is starting to look a bit too prescient.

We can’t resist quoting in full Buster’s comments on the original eviction, as reported over at Jonty Skrufff’s Skrufff.com:

“It’s the same old story, and exactly why we left the gentrified Shoreditch triangle in the first place. What happens is some wanky trust fund son of an estate agent decides to buy up a flat next to an already established strip club then complains about the noise; specifically; the noise, the giant walking pyramids, the cake fights, the glow in the dark horses, the nudity and our clientele generally. But still, why move there in the first place?”

Why indeed! We’re with Buster.

[Photo ©2008 Darrell Berry]

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Horse Meat Ball

With the first Ball of the year last Sunday, Spring must be on its way. At least we hope so

Horse Meat Disco Drag Ball 2008Horse Meat Disco’s 2008 Drag Ball attracted a huge (and vocal) crowd and inspired entries from all competing Houses. More photos on Flickr.

[Photo ©2008, Darrell Berry]

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Shiny Things

Photo evidence from club Film Noir at Bar Music Hall

And a reminder of our sister (brother?) site featuring club and performance photography. Featured artist: the fabulous Dickie Beau. Dickie Beau at Film Noir, Bar Music Hall
[Image © Darrell Berry, 2008]

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Paul Hartnett Interview

Photographer Paul Hartnett has been documenting the club scene since before many of our readers were even old enough to sneak out at night. In advance of his upcoming show in February, he kindly granted BigShinyThing an exclusive interview

From the early London punk scene, through Leigh Bowery and the clubs kids, to street culture in Japan and the Asian mainland, Hartnett has been there to capture the look while it’s still fresh and raw. We were keen to ask a few questions of the man who’s seen it all.

BST: You’ve been documenting youth and street culture for over 30 years now. What is it about those worlds that keeps you excited?

PAUL HARTNETT: I started documenting street and club culture at the age of eighteen as a means of social lubrication. I wanted to get close to the key punk players such as Soo Catwoman and Sid Vicious, who lived in the next road to me in West London back then. I wanted to go beyond the visual. A camera seemed a perfect excuse to talk, exchange ideas, develop a rapport. Sometimes there’d be very little beyond the hair spray and eye-liner, sometimes there were all kinds of viewpoints, the most brilliant perspectives.

At the core of my work there is a continuing look at customising, how individuals have crafted a look. My pictures are portraits, executed with a Kodak Instamatic, a Polaroid camera and a range of Nikon stuff. I’m not a technical person. For me it has always been about faces, dimly lit, content driven, not style driven. Faces, colours, textiles, soul. The messed-up, the dressed-up. The fucked-up.


You’ve recently been exploring Chinese youth culture. What were the most interesting things they’re up to?

I recently visited Shanghai and Beijing for i-D magazine. I was involved with a street and club exhibition at Source’s Kong Gallery and this was a way in to meeting some creative souls. Visiting fashion schools such as IFA Paris and Raffles Design Institute was my focus, away from the gallery. There is such a rawness to Chinese fashion. It is often quite crude and quite different to the work Chinese students do at the likes of Central Saint Martin’s in London or FIT and Parsons in NYC. Having observed over 600 fashion students at work, having photographed a selected few, I gained insights. The Chinese are so very different to the Japanese. The work at Shinjuku’s Bunka, for example, is on another planet compared to what is happening in Shanghai and Beijing. Yep, it’s superior. That said, I was fascinated by the grounded approach of so many students at IFA Paris in particular. It’s a place to watch, they certainly have the technical skills.


You’ve covered the most important musical and style movements of the last 30 years. Which of those do you feel the most empathy with, and what’s going on at the moment that you are most excited by?

I saw The Sex Pistols perform many weeks before the Punk Festival of 1976. It was just electric, kind of like Brecht entering the stage. Before that I’d only seen Sparks, Bowie and Cockney Rebel perform live. I was in a band as a teenager, Missing Presumed Dead, so inspired by the DIY ethos of Punk and Power Pop. What I love about fashion and music is when people are totally fired up, and a bit ‘bonkers’ with it. Really exploding internally and doing something individual externally, going beyond a commercial formula, a safe established pattern.

Right now there’s a musician named NIYI who DJs at club nights such as Gauche Chic. As a producer, NIYI is unpredictable, he uses the most unexpected samples. He is very playful and could certainly be categorised under ‘bonkers’. He is my #1 muse right now — a joy to photograph, when he can be bothered to turn up.

You’ve run clubs as well as documenting those run by others: have you always been that involved in the scenes you cover photographically? Have you ever had issues with access — scenes or subcultures who you wanted to document, but who simply closed ranks and didn’t let you near them? How do you deal with that? Who or what scene have you not covered, but would most have wished to?

I ran a club named Kawaii in London back in 1983. It was very inspired by Japan’s club culture. I also ran the world’s first club for drag kings, women who dress as men, back in 1995. The majority were female to male transvestites, some were heavy-duty transexuals. Every Thursday night there’d be 150 toughies, and me. There was one simple rule: NO CAMERAS! This allowed me a somewhat strategic exclusivity.

I’ve never had issues re access. I’ve had good coverage over the last three decades, and I tend to be guest-listed without ever having met the promoters. Door whores just know who I am. Being fat and a few months short of fifty seems to be a plus nowadays. Verification for clubs abroad is easier than it was in the past due to my website, people can check out editorial content, photographic approach, fast as click-click-click. Some fetish clubs can be stand-offish, they live in fear of News International and local councils.

The only club I have ever experienced shit with is that shit club named Boom Box. Oh, what a Hoxton hole. Just so hyped, so over-rated, and so over. I took a few pics… then pressed the delete button and left. I have little patience for fashion sheep.


You seem both fascinated by style and its associated fantasy worlds, but your photos are raw and uncompromising — you talk about showing the ‘reality of fashion’. What does that mean to you?

Take a look at street-style pics in magazines such as i-D and Dazed & Confused and you will often find credits for an entire team of mag slags; hair stylists, make-up performers… an entire circus. To me this ain’t street-style, it’s manipulation. What I have done for the last three decades is SNAP with seconds of seeing. No touching, no altering, no upgrading. SNAP. Same location, same same same reality. Sure, sometimes I’ll ask for a plastic bag to be put aside or an event bracelet to be concealed, that’s all. So many magazines provide clothes that their advertisers wish to be promoted. That sucks.

What’s the future of street and club photography as you see it? What’s the role for ‘photographers’ as such, when the ‘kids of today’ have MySpace and a bunch of club photo websites on which to show off their poses, and every phone is a camera?

The Internet has come along and fucked so many people sideways. The music industry is in a tizz, everybody
seems to be online so much of the time. Punk’s DIY ethos is everywhere. People pimp their profiles to a narcissistic extent on myspazz and facebore. There are street-style photographers such as Facecunter (I think that’s his name) who snap at fashion events, but in a really bad way. So cheesy and hap-hap-happy. All very Grazia or Closer, Heatish.

I think it’s great that so many people are taking photographs, even if it with with dinky telephone toys. I love that crap quality, that low-res fuzz. I love the diversity available. That said, I continue in my own way. I have CCTV eyes, and pay an almost forensic attention to detail. I like clarity and the portraiture I have amassed is for a future audience I have never met.

Paul’s work will be on display at the Vibe Bar in Brick Lane from 14 February 2008. Go see. Also check out the PaulHartnett.Com and PYMCA sites.

[Thanks to Adz!]

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All You Can Eat

Photo evidence from All You Can Eat

All You Can EatAll You Can Eat at Electrowerkz, Friday 19th October. More photos on Flickr, along with our other London club photography. [Image © Darrell Berry]

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Uptown Downtown

Photo evidence: spirits of Studio 54 and CBGB alive and well in Vauxhall at club Uptown Downtown

Ryan Styles at Uptown DowntownUptown Downtown saw Horse Meat Disco and Rebel Rebel take over Vauxhall’s club Area on Saturday 29th September for a night of NYC-styled punk and disco. You can access our Uptown Downtown photos directly on Flickr, along with our other London club photography. Photo shows Ryan Styles and friend adding a little alt.chic out on the smoking terrace. [Image © Darrell Berry]

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100proofTRUTH vs BigShinyThing

The photography special features Paul Hartnett and our very own Darrell Berry.

100proof.jpgHere’s the official release:

100proof announce the release of Issue 3 of their urban culture PDF 100proofTRUTH.

The only publication that gives real props to those it’s due to, still repping all that’s good in the world with 145 pages of visual diversity;

Eclectic interviews, street art, graphics, and photography with a truly global urban youth perspective (uh, no not “urban youth” like pictures of 50 Cent posing with a cognac in Vibe magazine).
Fallon NYC on 100proofTRUTH.

Featured Photographers are: Witold Krassowksi, Kent Baker, The Face Hunter, Faith 47, Paul Hartnett, Darrell Berry… <blush>

100proofTRUTH Issue 3 is all about the power of the photograph, with a few other talents thrown in for good measure, (like Sfaustina from San Francisco, Sun7 from Paris, Karan Rashad from Iran, Dzyla and Fani1 from Australia, and Laser 3.14 from Amsterdam.)

With big thanks to King Adz.

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