London nights take in Hindi Electronica, Latin House or Japanese Bible
November 13, 2003
LONDON — While music has long been the top attraction on the London night
scene, the cosmopolitan clubber's paradise now encompasses an ever
more diverse range of sounds, ranging all the way from "London zok"
to "Latin house".
Forget the old club classics such as hip-hop, techno or garage.
The sprouting of "DJ bars" across the city, notably in
Shoreditch and Hoxton -- known to some as "Shoho" in a reference to
Soho, the emblematic tourist area now on the relative decline --
have given basic clubbing music a myriad of foreign musical accents
born from London's myriad communities.
The result? The huge Indo-Pakistani community has spawned "Hindi
electronica", house has developed into "Latin house" and East Asian
influences have brought forth a sound known as "Japanese bible".
As to "London zok", it is an Anglo-Saxon spin-off from the
French Caribbean "zouk" sound.
"London has an edge over Paris when it comes to music variety,"
said David Swindells, a journalist at Time Out, London's leading
weekly entertainment magazine.
Around 50 DJs were now firmly established in "Shoho", just to
the northeast of central London, areas which were totally dead at
night only a few years back, Swindells noted.
"Some clubs such as Plastic People have a vibe we don't have" in
France, admitted Serge Nicolas, a former DJ at the Paris club,
Pulp, who now spins at the Paradise Massage at the Rex.
Like the Ministry of Sound, a vast and hugely influential
"superclub" which opened 12 years ago just south of the River
Thames, many London clubs now create their own sound and have their
own record labels.
Top rivals to Ministry nowadays are the Latin-inspired Pacha and
Fabric, a huge five-storey venue with three "dance floors"
operating in the heart of London.
However, even though they still pack in thousands of clubbers
every weekend, these huge brand-name venues have suffered a
relative decline in both popularity and kudos in recent years.
And while London's traditional nightlife hub of the West End
remains a popular destination, many night owls now trek out to more
distant places, such as in the bustling southwest London suburb of
Tribalism is rife, with the jet-setters happier at more
traditional central London venues including Brown's or Chinawhite,
while students take root in Camden, just north of the centre of
London, and the gay community mainly sticks to bars and clubs
packed into a section of Soho.
Excess and extravagance are the keys to success, both for the
sound --the Ministry of Sound claims its speakers are set at a mere
45 percent of their potential -- and the decor.
In Brixton clubbers with a taste for sacrilege can take a night
out at Mass, formerly Saint Matthew's church, while avid swimmers
can take their togs along and jump in at the Aquarium, the only
club in London equipped with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi
alongside its two dance floors.
The latest entrants on the nightlife scene are bars where the
more sedate fun-seeker can listen to DJs or live acts while
feasting on high-quality dishes, described by Swindells as "global
street food". –Sapa-AFP
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