If you walk down Kingsland High Street, along the chicken bone-strewn pavement, past the discarded cardboard boxes and myriad of restaurants and bars, you’ll get to number 95 Kingsland High Street, home to Dance Tunnel. This venue shares its home with Voodoo Rays, the delicious (but diabolically overpriced) pizza place that stays open until the wee hours of the morning, which is great. Because after a night of throwing shapes at Dance Tunnel, the colourful 220-capacity club venue below Voodoo Rays, you’ll want food.
But get to the club while you can people, because this August, Dance Tunnel is closing it’s doors for good.
— Manu misunderstands (@manueky) April 11, 2016
It was at Dance Tunnel when I was first exposed to batida (African-inspired Portuguese house), through the musical styles of DJ Marfox. I remember walking into the underground rave. The walls were sweating, the crowd was jumping (and not just from the MDMA), and the vibes were aplenty. Sounds excellent, doesn’t it? That’s because it was. On my way home I popped into a different nightclub to say bye to my friends who hadn’t made it into Dance Tunnel because of the lengthy queue. It was inside that club that I realised just how brilliant my night had been at Dance Tunnel. Whilst this was in part due to the genius behind the decks, everything else – the booking of DJ Marfox, the atmosphere, the success of the entire production – was down to the Dance Tunnel team.
So if it’s so amazing, I hear you ask, why’s it closing?
Because Hackney council won’t extend the club’s late license to 5am.
Sure, I’ve heard about nightclub closures hitting London the same way Bryson Tiller hits those notes. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) reported that between 2005 and 2015 the number of clubs almost halved in the UK. We’ve all heard the stories: a few years ago the infamous Cable shut its doors for good, followed by Madame Jojo’s, followed by Brixton’s Fridge Bar. Last year, partygoers also said goodbye to Plastic People. In London’s current nightlife landscape, where £22 is considered reasonable for entry and where the quality of some DJ sets are questionable, and dubious at best, Dalston’s Dance Tunnel was one of the few shining lights in a sea of financial and musical darkness. The ALMR warned this crisis will leave the UK lagging “socially, culturally and financially”.
My love for Skilliam captured at Dance Tunnel by James Gould pic.twitter.com/7zAEUVxR0a
— Elijah (@Eli1ah) April 11, 2016
I get it. If you live in the area, the last thing you want is to be greeted by vomit that’s missed the bin on your Sunday morning run. You also probably don’t want to have to deal with a bass vibrating through your floor at three in the morning. But Dance Tunnel is on a high street, away from the majority of the area’s residences, and the vomit is always cleaned up. Without a 5am license the business isn’t viable – in the UK, we don’t tend to get to the club before 12am. Considering that in other European countries you would leave the club at seven or eight in the morning, asking for a 5am license doesn’t seem too absurd. I used to live near two clubs, and whilst the incessant chatter of clubbers at 1am was very annoying (also good luck trying to get anything from the cornershop after 11pm), by Sunday night, I was over it. As I write this, I know that this piece has turned into a plea to the people of Dalston to support the club, but honestly, Dance Tunnel is one of the best clubs in London at the moment: cheap, friendly and cheerful. It’ll be a shame to see it go.
Hackney Council have released a statement in response, stating that they value the borough’s “vibrant and exciting nightlife, and we are proud of the borough’s reputation as a night-time destination. However, we need to balance the needs of businesses against the rights of our residents to a good night’s sleep, and as both our population and night time economy grow, that is becoming increasingly hard to do.”
A petition has since been started on Change.org to save it, asking the Mayor of Hackney to grant it a 5am license.