Want to go for a fun and simple night out, where the good times are rolling and people are grooving? It's not always as easy as it should be. Nights at some of London's big clubs today sell out their pricey tickets way in advance and often don't deliver the goods. So if you're a spontaneous type, perhaps somewhere a bit more intimate and no frills will suit you. These smaller spaces feel friendlier; there's less of that London fear separating strangers as people (try to) dance in time to the tunes.
London lost two of its most beloved small clubs recently in the form of Plastic People and Dance Tunnel. These clubs have made sure those losses aren't felt so keenly, by more than filling their boots.
Fish Island in Hackney Wick is something of an oasis. For large stretches there's nothing but industrial land and boardings covered in grafitti. Heck, it's a struggle to find a corner shop round here, the area is so bereft of life. Then stumble onto the right road and you'll find a series of clubs and bars brimming with energy. Our pick of these is The Yard, a theatre some evenings, turning into a popping club at the weekend. An eclectic selection of DJs plays here, so if you're looking to get away from the traditional house-techno spectrum, this is the ideal spot.
Canavan's Peckham Pool Club
Canavan's came to prominence thanks to one of London's biggest breakout nights in recent years, Rhythm Section. Led by DJ Bradley Zero, Rhythm Section ran two Fridays a month in the (still-functioning) pool club. Canavan's is decked out with a Funktion One Soundsystem, so you can properly feel the bass vibrate as you groove to the tunes. To stop those deep beats generating noise complaints, there's bulletproof glass at the back area, chosen because it's cheaper than soundproofing.
The Waiting Room
Underneath an unassuming pub in Stokey lies a club where the crowd bounces to its heart's content. One of the best things about this spot, is that it runs plenty of free entry nights, helpful for when your bank statement is making you feel nauseous and you need a night out to get over it. The set up is pretty simple, a tight box of a room with a bar at the back and the DJ in the corner. The simplicity of the space makes everyone focus on the bangers from the speakers.
With a capacity of 550, we're slightly stretching the definition of intimate with this one. Bloc used to go by the name Autumn Street Studios - which we prefer, but oh well - and is hidden down a back alley in Bow. The music skews towards techno here, and the thumping four four beats suit the room. Behind the DJ is one small window, showcasing the Olympic Park. Nights don't finish till 6am, and the way the light slowly sees into the room as the music climaxes feels epic.
The Pickle Factory
The best named club on this list, The Pickle Factory used to do what it said on the tin: it was a pickle factory in the East End. No more however, the club now functions as the smaller sister venue to Oval Space directly across the street. The word 'factory' conjures up images of identical productions repeated en masse, but the nights here are anything but. There's a varied selction of music and people in this club, not just chin stroking hipsters admiring the rare records. This is a place for dancers.
Phonox holds a special place on this list. Most of these clubs do their business on Friday and Saturday nights, with the occasional weeknight opening on top. Phonox throws that convention out the window, by opening its doors on a Sunday evening. It's a bizarre but wonderful experience shaking your stuff, when your body clock is telling you to settle down in front of the TV with a cuppa. It's not just the Sunday evenings that impress; Friday nights you're in the hands of a big name guest, and on Saturday nights people dance to the repeated comfort of the club's residents.
In case you hadn't heard, Tottenham is trendy now. One of the things that's made it so hip is the prevalence of craft beer breweries in the area. Five Miles acknowledges this with its very own brewery on site, which produces high quality drinks to keep you buzzed on the dancefloor. Speaking of that dancefloor, it's built for the best sound possible. The club also puts a focus on being accepting to all: toilets are gender neutral and there's a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment. This friendly vibe all coalesces into a wonderful night out. Also fun and geeky engineering fact: it's right by the Markfield Beam Engine Museum. No word yet on whether they'll do a discount combo ticket for the two.