It’s not an overstatement to say that we’re experiencing a crisis in London nightlife. The Drumsheds, Space 289, The Cause’s original home in Ashley Road have all been shuttered in the last 12 months — while capital clubbing juggernaut Printworks looks to be closed “for a number of years” after its big NYD send-off as development to convert the Surrey Quays site into offices goes forward. The light at the end of the tunnel then is coming by way of a crop of new and reopening venues: HERE at Outernet, The Cross, The Cause’s All My Friends and the new, 5000-capacity venue from Broadwick Live, The Beams.
Broadwick, the team behind Printworks, The Drumsheds and more, announced news of the new East London space back in June — to the delight of the city’s ravers, desperate for some resuscitation in the scene. Located within a sprawling estate of run-down warehouses, The Beams stands out immediately — with its distinctive peeling paintwork, array of exotic house plants and wide victorian windows. Formerly a sugar factory run by Tate and Lyle, the venue has a surprisingly idyllic façade — delicate light flows from every direction, unmarred by the surrounding structures. Hundreds of grinning ravers are already flowing through the gates from far-and-wide, ready for a final dose of summer — by way of Michael Bibi‘s new concept event ELOVATE.
The venue’s 55,000 sq ft expanse ensures a good chunk of your first visit is spent getting your bearings and staring around in bewilderment at its sheer scale. Spread across two mammoth club rooms, a smaller bar and chill-out area, plus an expansive courtyard — there’s plenty of ground to cover. The courtyard is located just past security; a flat concrete stretch brimming with food stalls, bars, seating areas and punters holding their phones aloft trying to get hold of their mates. Once inside, there’s a confounding variation of areas to choose from. Tucked upstairs, away from the pounding subs is Room Three — a stylish bar with comfortable sofas and a cocktail menu, perfect to stare out of the window and re-charge. In contrast Room Two is reminiscent of the dingy underground heyday of rave, a dark cave filled with gems of light bouncing around its low ceiling — making it an intimate place for those who really want to stomp to the opening day delights of Subb-an, Delasflores and Max Dean.
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Now, for the main event, Room One. Slipping through the doors and along the venue’s glowing red corridors, it’s an experience in itself to come face-to-face with this prodigious amphitheatre of a dancefloor. Even musically, the music here is less rave and more spectacle — with Hot Since 82 slamming out a heavy tech-house-inclined selection, all brought to life by some choice strobes and the breathtaking backdrop of the sunset through the condensated windows. He’s followed by headliner Michael Bibi, who is illuminated at the decks by a ring of light shaped in the ELOVATE logo — draped around him on all sides like a curtain. Each beam of the warehouse is strapped with its own lighting and soundsystem — meaning regardless of your position in the crowd you are still getting the full experience.
Flying in straight from Ibiza, Bibi rushes to the decks: “I was getting a little stressed in the traffic causing the delay, and nervous at the same time,” he says. “But stepping onto the stage and hearing the roar from the crowd as soon as I entered melted all those fears away and reminded me I was home.”
He adds: “It was both exciting and a privilege to be able to host the first show at this new space in my hometown. Being a born and raised Londoner, I’ve always considered the capital a leading cultural city for electronic music, so I was really happy when I got the call for the opening.”
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The Solid Grooves’ founder starts off strong, with the pulsating bass of Beltram’s ‘Smack Yo’, earning a frenzied response from the crowd; phones are waving, screams of “fuck off” are bouncing from every surface. It’s an opening track that Bibi tells me, “never fails.” To keep up the tempo, Bibi throws in some remixes of classics like 80s synth masterpiece ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ to the late great Paul Johnson’s ‘Get Get Down’ — with the mood turning even more bittersweet as he drops Jamie Roy’s ‘Organ Belta’.
After the set, Bibi said he felt “incredible” adding: “This show was also the first time putting on my own ELOVATE brand showcase, a concept based on empowering and energising people to reach their highest potential. It seemed to work perfectly.”
A few days after the grand opening, Patrick Topping — who debuted alongisde Denis Sulta at The Beams — summed up his experience at the new venue, tweeting: “Such an amazing addition to London and the UK scene.” That is the biggest takeaway upon exiting — regardless of your preference at the scale of a venue, The Beams is an ambitious space which will benefit the UK clubbing sphere and inspire others in the capital to follow suit. The Beams might just be the beacon of hope London’s nightlife has needed.
Check out more events and get tickets to The Beams here.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Video and Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins