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Here's how London’s nightlife went renegade again in 2018

Oliver Keens

If you believe the pervading narrative, London’s nightlife is heading for the toilet. And not in a fun way. Coverage from the past 12 months has focused on clubs shutting, councils imposing early curfews and survey results suggesting young people would rather read a self help book or update their LinkedIn profile than have a large one.

In reality, quietly and under the radar, London is offering Berlin-inspired round-the-clock fun to wasters, filthbags, seshheads and debaucheroonies. You just need to search it out.

Back in July, we reported on the thriving illegal rave scene that’s sprung up in forests and woods around London in the past few years. This isn’t akin to the tabloid-angering days of the ’90s rave scene. In most cases, these are safe, respectful, parties that often have a ‘leave no trace’ ethos. ‘We’re reclaiming the city,’ one promoter told us, while others complained that clubs had become too regimented, too predictable and too straight.

This last point certainly isn’t the case with two of London’s best nights: Chapter 10 and Adonis. Both combine long opening hours, a defiantly queer aesthetic (C10’s flyers always include butt plugs), but also DJ line-ups that are progressive, techno-focused and a world away from the traditionally cheesy soundtrack of ‘gay clubs’. The nights are hardcore and not for everyone –
yet because of their organisers’ sense of self-belief and confidence, they have become two of the most fetishised and beloved nights out to appear in ages.

Speaking of fetishes, further down the kink line sits Klub Verboten, a popular newish fetish night that has attracted a younger crowd to its dungeons with excellent techno DJs, while
fetish mainstay Torture Garden continues to thrive as a gateway for Londoners to explore their kinky side. Lastly, venues with a genuinely independent spirit have been playing a large part in clubbing’s renegade revival this year. These include Grow Tottenham and The Cause (also in Tottenham), Fold in Canning Town (blessed with a 24-hour licence) and the small and adaptable Set in Dalston. Let’s hope the momentum continues for more off-grid fun in 2019.

Read our full list of ways London changed in 2018

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