Printworks opening in London

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  • Whatever your stance on the so-called demise of London's club scene, there can be no denying that 2017 has put a spring back in the city's step. Just over three months ago, fabric was shut, there was no Night Czar and Printworks, London's most-talked about new venue, was still a well-kept secret. Now, for the first time in what feels like ages, people have stopped lamenting the state of clubland and are back to discussing the finer details of future nights out. Printworks, a 5,000-capacity space that was formerly one of Europe's largest printing presses, has been the subject of many of these conversations. The project has definitely come along at a good time for London, though I'm not sure there's a club scene in the world that wouldn't welcome a giant, industrial, fully-soundproofed venue with open arms. Many of us will have been inside huge rave caves before—think Sónar, Time Warp, Kraftwerk in Berlin—but rarely anything with so much of the original personality (and hulking machinery) intact. (For more on the building and its history, check out the most recent edition of The Hour.) Printworks was teeming by the time I arrived on Saturday. (Tickets had sold out, though capacity was limited to 2500.) In the vast entrance foyer, groups of friends reconvened in a flurry of hugs and high-fives after drinks and cigarette breaks. Upstairs, where the action was, the vibe was livelier still, like a festival at peak hours. Most people were in Room 1, a long, rectangular strip similar in size and feel to The Moat at Dimensions in Croatia. While they danced, punters gazed up at the mesh of steel girders above them, transfixed by the agile, spider-like lighting rig firing powerful coloured beams in all directions. At one end of the dance floor, raised on a platform about two or three metres high, stood Seth Troxler, The Martinez Brothers and Loco Dice. They played back-to-back from 3 PM through 10 PM, a seven-hour set that felt more about the spectacle and the occasion than the music. Even so, their chemistry onstage was infectious—I challenge you to find me a smilier DJ than Chris Martinez—and the crowd fed off it, raising the roof every time the kicks slammed back in. Just around the corner, in Room 2, the mood was more mellow, with 2-to-300 people getting down to rolling tech house courtesy of Krankbrother. While they played, a VOID technician circled the room, testing the levels. The sound was great. It's testament to the professionalism of London Warehouse Events, the promoter overseeing Printworks' dance music programme, that I barely noticed any teething problems. Everything was clearly signposted, the tokens system was flawless and leaving the venue was as painless as entering it. But there was one thing: the sound in Room 1. Though loud and crystal clear at the front, the volume diminished the further back you went, which, given that the venue is soundproofed, needs to be addressed. Glorious dance floor moments, like this one that rounded off Saturday, will come often in a space as spectacular as Printworks—they deserve to be experienced equally by everyone. Photo credit / Danny North