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Finally, after a destructive few years, there’s some encouraging news for London’s party people. London is getting a huge new 5,000-capacity music and culture space.
It’s called The Printworks and is a few minutes’ walk from Canada Water station. We were lucky enough to see the site a few weeks ago, and the place is genuinely impressive. It’s essentially a massive industrial complex that used to be where newspapers including the Daily Mail were printed. But don’t let that put you off.
Since the presses stopped rolling in 2013, the complex has lain pretty much dormant, save for a Secret Cinema run last year. The new team –who include LWE (London Warehouse Events) and Broadwick Live – have deliberately left the space as raw as possible. Massive bits of machinery remain, and a roll of print paper from the factory’s last run still sits in one of the presses. There are six event spaces in total, which will play host to all manner of cross-cultural activity from art shows, classical concerts, dining events and gigs this year. But the main focus for clubbers will be on one particular long, narrow room – the chamber for the presses –which will act as the main room for DJ events.
At 12 acres, the site is big enough to accommodate 20 Fabrics and hold more than three times the capacity of Berlin’s Berghain. But let’s dial down expectations slightly. The Printworks won’t be a weekly 30-hour bacchanal on the scale of the German fun palace. A 2am licence notwithstanding, The Printworks’ initial programming will start with a daytime-into-evening vibe, with events ending at 10.30pm. The rationale here is about sustainability: given the current clubs v councils climate, the idea is to ease into doing big, late events.
A helpful role model is Tobacco Dock – another LWE-run venue in Wapping and the closest thing London has to Manchester’s Warehouse Project – except with a focus on early starting, early finishing rave events. The initial run of parties will begin in February 2017, details of which are to be announced in a few weeks. Although line-ups are still under wraps, expect DJs of the calibre that typically grace the Wapping venue. Artists who have rocked the Dock in 2016 include Seth Troxler, Annie Mac and Bonobo.
One significant advantage for the new owners is that printing newspapers used to be
a REALLY, REALLY LOUD business. The vast sprawling building was soundproofed to buggery when it was built in 1989 – perfect for getting rinsed out by musicians. Because there are flats due to be built nearby, the owners recently soundchecked at 102 decibels and stood where the proposed flats will be. Mercifully, they heard nothing. The building operated at 110dB as a factory. Amazingly, the site’s previous owners were spending £1million a year on security to guard it while it was empty.
This new, vastly more sociable use for such an epic London space makes a lot more sense. Let’s wish it well.