Some clubbers say that it's the new Saturday night - we say it's so much better than that
Everyone knows the devil has all the best tunes, which is why the faithful intone, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ every Sunday morning. Party people aren’t so cautious, however, even though the names of parties opening throughout Sunday read like warnings to the unwary: Zombies Ate My Brain, Jaded, Retox, Wrong!, Superfreq and Dig Your Own Rave. Yet Sunday clubbers are visiting them with religious regularity, happily spending the sabbath meandering from one after-party to the next until, if they really do carry on regardless, they end up in the dark recesses of Limehouse’s Whipping House (or the gutter) at some ungodly hour on Monday morning.
Time and again Sunday clubbers and promoters tell us ‘Sunday is the new Saturday’. It isn’t. It’s better than that; the parties are invariably more friendly, more polysexual, more cosmopolitan, less expensive and more hedonistic because there isn’t the same ‘on a mission’ pressure of a Saturday night. And while Sunday clubbers often get up in order to go out – so they won’t miss a night’s sleep – the clubs are no less messy, and there are now half a dozen weekly after-parties that open around dawn to tempt in the hardcore hedonists.
‘I think around 30 per cent of the people who turn up have stayed in on Saturday night and got up specially,’ says Krista Herron, club host at EGG’s Jaded, ‘They come in three waves, 5-6.30am, around 9am, and around 11.30am.’
There are various tactics for going the distance. ‘These people are clubbing every week and they’re there to socialise, so they’ll take whatever they need to stay awake, but it’s not like Saturday night when people throw pills down their neck as if there’s no tomorrow,’ says Herron. ‘I brew up flasks of espresso and dispense it in shot glasses. People are fighting over it, they love it so much.’
Elsewhere clubbers use more than caffeine to keep awake. ‘They’re E-monsters,’ said one club owner, ‘but that’s good, I like E-monsters. They’re up-for-it, friendly and certainly not aggressive.’
Of the capital’s hottest new after-parties, two are in King’s Cross (Jaded and the Formula crew’s Formulate at the Key) and two in Vauxhall (Believe at Hidden and Twist at Factory keep faith with funky house and electro), while the latest arrivals on the carry-on scene are Zombies Ate My Brain for minimal house fans, at 54 Commercial Street, and Tim Sheridan’s bass-fuelled burnout veryveryverywrongindeed at Turnmills.
There have always been after-parties – they used to be strictly word-of-mouth affairs – but such proliferation is new. The recent change to round-the-clock licensing means that running events on Sundays is more likely to be profitable.
Kicking off in October 2004, Jaded was flourishing long before the licensing change and draws over 1,000 clubbers to EGG on York Way, opening at 5am and delivering three dancefloors of fierce electro-techno, funky house and housey classics, plus a garden area (covered in winter, open in the spring and a godsend in summer) and a double-decker party bus. There was a Sunday morning carry-on running in the capital a decade ago that inspired Herron to get into club promotion, and she still believes it’s the best day to party. ‘Most of the people I know shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing on Sundays,’ she says. ‘They’ve got good jobs, but it’s a love of the decadent and feeling subversive that pulls them out.’
That and one of the best clubs in London. ‘It’s people who’ve done their time in normal clubs, that’s why it’s called Jaded,’ Herron says. ‘It isn’t mainstream. Sunday clubbers are experienced, they know their music and they love after-parties.’
Jaded finishes at 2pm, by which time Herron will already be at the aptly named Wrong in a packed pub further down York Way. DJ-producer duo Nils Hess and JB are firmly locked in to Sunday partying too, being resident DJs on Eukatech Records’ top floor at Jaded and also at both the Retox events. Retox Day kicks off at 4pm in Corbet Place, an ad hoc warehouse/dance space close to Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery.
Retox is invariably packed, so are they tempted to charge? ‘Oh no,’ said Nils’ brother Hans, who co-promotes Retox, ‘it would change the dynamic.’ Many of the DJ bar all-dayers (The Lodge, The T Bar, The Pool Bar and others) are also free – Sunday partying doesn’t have to cost a bundle.
It does have to be fun though. ‘If people aren’t having fun, they won’t come out,’ says Hans Hess, ‘so while the music is cutting-edge, it’s vital the clubs don’t take themselves too seriously.’ There’s no dress code at Retox – and most Sunday clubs – which suits the crowd. ‘Are you English?’ asks Hector from Spain on Time Out’s visit. ‘Then you must be the only one here!’ Not quite, but the Retox sessions feel as cosmopolitan, carefree and crazy as the best Balearic parties.
The Ibizan nightlife inspires DJs Mr C and Tim Sheridan so much that they live there throughout the summer season, and both launched new Sunday clubs in February. Sheridan’s after-hours party at Turnmills, veryveryverywrongindeed, aims to ‘bring some Ibiza-flavoured Balearic darkness to murky London’ with a host of Ibiza-connected DJs guesting each week.
Mr C opted for the late shift when he moved his Superfreq party into the AKA Bar and shifted it to Sunday. ‘Why Sundays? Because Sunday clubbers are specialists – they know what they’re going out for and they really want to be there.’ The same goes for the guest DJs he wants to play, who are more likely to be available then. And the move means Mr C has his first weekly London residency since 1989. ‘It’s become more fun, I’m out much more and we’re building a community as nearly everybody joins the free-membership scheme.
‘The new licensing laws have changed everything,’ he adds. ‘People may not arrive until midnight but by 3am on Monday morning it’s peak time and it can still be packed at 5am. And there’s always an after-party to go on to.’
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