Is this new 24-hour club the venue the capital has been crying out for?
Seb Glover and Lasha Jorjoliani, cofounders of East London's new 24-hour club FOLD, know this only too well. "We wanted to capture that freedom of expression that you get in places like Berlin and Amsterdam," Glover told me. Both also mentioned clubs in Tbilisi and Tokyo, and Nigeria's Afrika Shrine, once the spiritual home of Fela Kuti, as inspirations.
Once FOLD's First Dance was in full swing on Saturday, it was impossible to escape the feeling of having somehow slipped outside of London. The party began at midday, with DJs from a range of local nights—ReviveHER, Dimensions, Global Roots—playing all afternoon, though the head count barely reached double figures until nightfall. At that point, an infectious atmosphere descended, mixing giggly excitement with liberating abandon, a feeling Londoners are long overdue.
Diversity, surely London's greatest quality, was reflected in the FOLD crowd. The later it got, the more skin became visible, and the club's locker system allowed ravers to change into the type of outfits that would stand out on the Tube. This coupled with the photo ban meant people were free to really let loose.
Glover and Jorjoliani have waxed lyrical over the club's state-of-the-art lighting and sound, both of which were superb on the night. The space itself is simple and intimate. Clubbers enter through an outdoor courtyard before climbing the stairs to the dance floor. There's one floor, big enough for a few hundred people, which was abuzz from midnight onwards, though never overcrowded. (There are plans to open a second room downstairs.) It's flanked on one side by a bar and the door to the outdoor terrace. The courtyard is a welcoming entrance, but the terrace's easy access made it a popular spot, especially in the morning sunlight. Even at its busiest, the club was easy to navigate.
The security, Glover told me, had been hand-picked from years of working in events. I didn't hear of anyone being turned away, but the door policy is meant to be more stringent than at most other London clubs, with bouncers instructed to make decisions based on conversations with punters. Each member of staff I encountered was friendly and helpful.
A startling 21 names were crammed onto the lineup, making some slots feel like teasers. A few ravers were uncomfortable with the rapid switches, though the intention was to showcase the ample talents available to the bookers. Many people will have come away with new discoveries—my pick was Ear To Ground's Gareth Wild, who played an hour of transcendent techno at around 3 AM. Elsewhere, there were a few inappropriate moments, including what sounded like a bling-era hip-hop cut, but my lasting memories are the gorgeous stretch of trance around sunrise (GDANSE!) and the zippy snatches of hardcore that followed soon after (Body Hammer).
On a night so filled with promise I felt obliged to look for teething problems, but there were none of notable impact. Toilets queues were a constant and the bar's free water supply ran dry once or twice. Certain members of the crowd, perhaps from the 6 AM influx of walk-ins, were reminders that this was still pushy London. But, overall, everyone was smiling and chat was flying between different friend groups.
It's hard not to get carried away with FOLD's potential—there's already talk of a Bassiani showcase and an in-house label. "We're not here to try and save London nightlife in any way," said Glover. So far, thanks to a night nobody will forget in a hurry, we've been given a taste of what's possible.