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FOLD nightclub reflects on game-changing 24-hour license: “The impact has been unreal”

The so-called ‘death’ of London’s nightlife has been well documented. You know the score: devastating new licensing laws in Hackney ruled that newcomer venues must close at midnight, and a spate of club closures including Shapes and Dance Tunnel felt very much like the curtain coming down on a well-loved era of London clubbing.

All seemed doom and gloom, until 2018 proved to be a curveball. Tottenham Hale slid into relevance (hello Five Miles, The Cause and Grow), proving that the market for dancing was still there, contrary to what the news outlets were saying about millennials going out less.

But the year’s biggest mix-up wasn’t to be found in Tottenham. No, but in Canning Town, where FOLD nightclub has begun its reign. Modelled on the non-stop club culture of Berlin, FOLD feels like a return to form for London clubbing, with its long opening hours and left-field atmosphere, cut from the same cloth as Dalston’s first clubs were, before gentrification and licensing made clubbing in the borough near-on impossible.

If clubbing of the future is to survive, it is to survive by becoming decentralised: found not just in Hackney but in increasingly unlikely corners of the capital. On top of this, new clubs like FOLD are offering more to clubbers than ever before.

“We have found a spot that is deliberately hidden away,” FOLD co-founder Seb Glover told Run Riot. “Our biggest challenge is educating London that there is a way to do clubbing differently.”

FOLD’s international influences (read: Berlin influences) include a “no photos policy” and “extended opening hours” which mean that the club is open for 24 hours over the weekend, something new for London.

“The impact has been unreal,” Seb said. “The momentum has gathered much quicker than anticipated. From walking into the space for the first time with very little expectations to seeing many friends roll through, freely expressing themselves, appreciating the different aspects of the space.”

The club has a diverse following. Seb ran east end stalwart club Shapes first and says “many of the same faces” can be spotted back on the dancefloor in Canning Town. Also, “the current generation of club kids, LGBTQ crews and diverse characters from the more obscure LDN DIY scene”.

The club also follows another of London’s trends, being like Phonox in Brixton which pertains to be designed for music lovers, rather than Instagrammers. FOLD as a venue “angles at the overall experience”, rather than just booking big headliners for a glitz and glamour effect, or to rake in shallow crowds there for the selfie moments.

The building, which reimages a “dishevelled old print factory that had been vacated in a hurry, facilitates new homegrown talent first and foremost”, rather than book established names.

With a 24 hour license every weekend and within easy access of the Canning Town Tube, London nightlife is alive and well – if not quite as it was a few years back.

Gillian House
Stephenson Street
London E16 4SA