Trade Twenty-First Birthday

Posted: Thu Oct 20 2011

Laurence Malice talks us through 21 years of legendary afterhours club Trade

Many clubs claim to be 'legendary'. Very few are worthy of such an accolade. And then there's Trade. London's original afterhours club, Trade ran at Turnmills for a whopping 18 years. No longer a weekly event, Trade remains a major club brand, with parties all over the world. As the club prepares to celebrate its twenty-first birthday, we speak to head honcho Laurence Malice.

Tell us a bit about the first ever Trade party.
'The first ever Trade was in October 1990 at Turnmills. The DJ line-up was Martin Confusion, Malcolm Duffy, Daz Saund and Jon Dennis. The person we got to do the cloakroom forgot to attach the tickets to the coats. So when it was time for people to leave, a little worse for wear, it was worse than a local village jumble sale!'

What inspired you?
'At the time, most clubs like Heaven were closing at 3am. Nobody had anywhere to go afterwards. I'd been involved in various illegal gay afterhours, including a notorious sauna in Kentish Town! I was tired of the constant threat of being shut down, so this time I wanted to do it all above board. I approached John Newman at Turnmills and convinced him that if we ran until the early hours, we could we do the open on a regular basis every Saturday night/Sunday morning. He approached the council and hey presto! It all fell into place.'

The early flyers for Trade used to advertise breakfast. Did people actually eat?
'Yes breakfast was served. The teas and coffees went down a treat and people liked an early morning ice cream. There wasn't much call for the full English except for Mark Wardel, aka Trademark, who was managing the night and myself.'

How important was DJ Tony De Vit to the club's initial success?
'In Tony De Vit's own words “No one person is bigger than the club.” Many successful DJs started their careers at Trade, Tony being one of them. They also include Tall Pall, Sister Bliss, Fergie, Daz Saund, Trevor Rockliff, Smokin Jo… The names go on and on.'

What have been the key moments over the years?
'Appearing to one and a half million people at the Love Parade in Leeds. There were two stages. One hosted by Trade and the other hosted by Radio 1. The Trade stage had to continue for several hours longer once the Radio 1 stage had closed under the direction of the police to help cope with the vast crowds. No other club, gay or straight, has managed to achieve this again. If I had to pick five top Trade events, they'd be the Love Parade, the launches of Trade at Twilo in New York, at Privilege in Ibiza, at The Palace in Los Angeles, and the launch of Kinky Trade at Amnesia in Ibiza. Not forgetting Tony De Vit's massive twelve-ihour set at Trade London.'

Trade's residency as a weekly club came to an end shortly after the gay Vauxhall scene took off.
'We were still attracting 750 people a week, but what affected Trade was geographical. The whole gay club scene moved south and it wasn't financially viable for people to continue their partying when the minimum taxi fair was around £20. For me, it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to develop my club in King's Cross which is now Egg. We celebrated Egg's eighth birthday earlier this year. Similar to Trade, we have a very progressive music policy.'

What can we expect at the Trade twenty-first birthday party?
'We're bringing Berlin and London together - the perfect BLT! And as we're moving to an earlier time slot, it's a lot more accessible for people. Not being an afterhours allows to focus on the important stuff - the music and production. When you're an afterhours in your average nightclub, you'd normally have no more than 30 minutes to set up for the event. We are going to be setting up all week. This enables us to create the kind of spectacular party we've always aimed for. Pulse, with its underground feel, is the perfect setting for what is going to be a magical party.'

What does the future hold for Trade?
'The London gay scene is generally dominated by international brands. We want to provide a strong, fresh gay brand which the UK can be proud of. The Trade name has remained the same, but the concept is ever-evolving.'

The Trade Twenty-First Birthday is at Pulse on Sat Oct 29.