Your grandmother might not agree, but ask most Londoners and they’ll tell you the coolest place for a party is a warehouse. We may have left the manufacturing industries that once built them firmly in the past, but we’re starting to love the buildings that once housed them.
With everything from the achingly cool but debatably legal to the more polished and altogether less-warehousey warehouses, the choices are endless. Here are the best in class.
The Vaults, Waterloo
Previously known as the Old Vic Tunnels, this venue is a labyrinth of 30,000 square feet of disused railway vaults. The Old Vic had to close the space last year due to a lack of funding, but the venue is now open again for private events and is looking to host all night raves along with less raucous corporate bashes. Former American President Bill Clinton had a fundraiser there. We’re not sure what that says about the venue, but it’s true!
Tobacco Dock, Wapping
The new (old) kid on the block, this venue brings a bit of professionalism to the warehouse game. It has everything from proper loos (believe us, this is not a given) to projectors and drop down screens. Formally used as, you guessed it, a warehouse for tobacco, the venue was built in the early 19th century. It was converted into a shopping mall in the late 80s, but fell foul of the recession in the early 1990s. It’s stood mostly forgotten ever since, but is rapidly gaining a reputation as a venue for conferences, exhibitions and parties. The venue includes a mix of spaces including lovely domed basements with exposed brickwork and double height warehouse spaces.
Sidings, London Bridge
If you leave our third warehouse before dawn, you’ll probably miss the biggest beats dropping. Many readers will have been to Sidings at some point, but you’ll probably know it better as ‘that archway at London Bridge’. This cavernous space has been hosting rave nights for years but still feels secret. The arches themselves make for great acoustics and the space flows really well too, avoiding that blocked in feel you sometimes get with venues in arches.
Village Underground, Shoreditch
If Shoreditch House is east London’s hottest summer venue, Village Underground is where the hipsters go during the winter months. The venue starts the day with a morning rave class, smoothies and massages, and ends it with the more expected, but still brilliant, all night rave fare. Proving its Shoreditch credentials, the venue is all exposed brickwork, and even has a couple of old tube carriages on the roof.
Number 90, Hackney Wick
After all that heady music and standing in line for Portaloo toilets you’ll probably want a break. For a more genteel but still warehousey experience, head to Number 90, overlooking the Olympic Stadium. This former printing house has some of the best tapas in London (so says our mate who did a year in Spain, so it must be true), comfy sofas and a smoking section in boats on the canal.
These are just five of the capital’s many cavernous party spaces. Feel free to give your own favourites a plug in the comments.
By Reuben Sagar.