From Dance Tunnel and Space to the Paradox, here are ten club closures that stung the most.
Photo of Space Ibiza via Wikimedia Commons
Nightlife ebbs and flows. For as long as people have danced in sweaty, dark rooms, night spots have closed and opened in cities the world over. It's a natural part of the Darwinian evolution of counterculture, but it's always a deeply sad day when a beloved venue shutters. This year, nightlife said goodbye to a number of venues; some came to their natural conclusion, while others fell victim to circumstances beyond their control. To pay homage to our fallen dancing spots, we've rounded up ten institutions that closed this year that we're really going to miss. (A venue not mentioned in this list, however, is London's fabric. Although technically it closed in 2016 after losing its license, the club is reopening under the same management and in the same location in 2017.) Read THUMP's tribute to the clubs we lost in 2016 below.
1. Dance Tunnel - London, UK
In August, east London venue Dance Tunnel closed its doors after losing a licensing battle with the local authorities. The 220-capacity basement venue underneath a pizza place in Dalston opened in 2012 and quickly became one of most beloved underground clubs because of its barebones interior and focus on forward-thinking programming, with the likes of DJ Sprinkles, Bicep, and Novelist gracing its bills. After Plastic People closed in 2013, Dance Tunnel became the new home to Rinse FM's legendary FWD>> party, known for incubating some of the UK's top underground talent like Skream, Four Tet, and Kode9. There have been rumors that Dance Tunnel's owners will open a new venue in 2017, so keep your fingers tightly crossed for a comeback.
2. The Shelter - Shanghai, China
The Shelter, a gritty Chinese club that was once a bomb shelter, announced in October that it will close at the end of year. Gareth Williams, the owner of the dinghy subterranean venue in Shanghai, said he wasn't able to get the venue's license renewed and that this New Year's Eve bash would be its last. Since the venue opened in 2007, it established itself at the forefront of Shanghai's electronic scene, rejecting flashy VIP treatment and instead booking diverse headliners like Cut Chemist, Das Racist, and L.I.E.S. affiliate Tsuzing. Details for the New Year's party are sparse, but Williams told Time Out Shanghaithat the plan for the night is to have "20 DJs each playing 20 minutes," and that there are no pre-sale tickets.
3. Pacha - New York, US
The Ibizan clubbing dynasty brought its brand of hedonistic nightlife to New York in 2006 in the form of Pacha. The Hell's Kitchen venue was known for hosting marathon big-room house nights that stretched over entire weekends. It shuttered for good at the beginning of the year after a month of parties celebrating their decade-long stretch with performances from founding resident DJ Erick Morillo, Puff Daddy, and Dirty South. Eddie Dean, former owner of Pacha NYC, has since gone to open another club, Schimanski, in the building that housed former Williamsburg venue Verboten.
4. Verboten - New York, US
When Verboten opened in 2014, the Williamsburg spot was hailed as one of the new generation of clubs to set up shop in Brooklyn and breathe life back into New York's clubbing scene. Verboten managed to snag big-name guests and establish residencies with Matthew Dear, Gui Boratto, and Matt Tolfrey. But the venue's ambitions were proven to be ill-fated when news broke at the beginning of the year that its owners were accused by staff and investors of fraud and financial mismanagement. The two-room space that housed Verboten has since reopened under its new name of Schimanski after Eddie Dean, former owner of Pacha NYC, put a $1.2 million bid in bankruptcy court on the building.
5. Palisades - New York, US
Fans of the sweaty basement Brooklyn venue Palisades were shocked in June when their beloved dancing spot closed with no proper explanation from the venue owners. The arts space in Bushwick had hosted a wide variety of artists from big acts like Skepta, to experimental and underground producers like Lee Bannon and Bookworms. In an interview for AdHoc zine, Palisades co-founder Leeor Waisbrod and booker Ariel Bitran told Emilie Friedlander (AdHoc co-founder and THUMP's Editor-in-Chief) that the venue was not fully legal because it lacked all the required permits and had closed because of difficulties working with the city's authorities to get it up to code.
6. Golden Pudel - Hamburg, Germany
Heralded by FACT as "the crux of Hamburg's nightlife," the cabin-like Golden Pudel was known as a club for the real heads and hosted the likes of Detroit electro artist DJ Stingray, London producer Joy Orbison, and Cologne's Barnt over the years. The venue closed in February after a fire broke out in which no one was hurt but all the club's equipment was destroyed and the building suffered significant structural damage. According to local press, the circumstances surrounding the fire were suspect as the building was supposed to be going up for auction because of a legal dispute between its owners; the authorities investigated arson as the cause of the blaze. As it stands, the club's management have announced it will reopen but no firm plans have been revealed as to when this will happen.
7. Shapes - London, UK
East London venue Shapes had a social mission when it opened in 2012—to build a space where people could party that could also double as a community hub. And the venue had a lived up to that promise. It pulled in big headliners like Nosaj Thing, Gorgon City, and Leon Vynehall, while at the same time offering jobs to locals and creating a much-needed platform for the area's longstanding but underserved artistic scene. The venue's good intentions were dashed in March of this year when details emerged that an alleged sex crime happened on the club's property and the venue lost its license as a consequence a few months later. Shapes' owner Seb Glover responded to the situation, claiming that the local authorities had in fact used the assault allegation to mask the real reason the club was forced to close: the owners wanted to turn the venue into luxury apartments.
8. Space - Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza's Space was one of the island's original party havens. Since opening in 1989, it has played a central role in shaping the White Isle's hedonistic clubbing landscape. When it closed in October, Carl Cox—who held his Music Is Revolution residency there for 15 years—played a ten-hour vinyl set at the club's farewell party in a heartfelt tribute that was a testament to the love the club has built up from clubbers all over the world. The company behind upscale nightclub Ushuaïa took ownership of the venue and plan to reopen it next season, in a move that many fear will take the island's party scene in a commercialized direction.
9. Paradox - Baltimore, US
The Paradox, affectionately known as the Dox by regulars, was a Baltimore nightlife institution for 25 years. The massive 13,000-square-foot warehouse venue started out as primarily a house music venue, but over the years morphed its musical leanings to include more hip hop, Bmore club, and techno. Over its headliners, the Paradox was most known for its parties, in particular the soulful Deep House Sugar and 90s techno Fever nights. It shuttered this year after its lease expired in March, and Hammerjacks, a local concert venue known for rock shows, took over the space.
10. Latora 4 Brazos - Bogotá, Colombia
For seven years, Latora 4 Brazos was an essential venue in Bogotá, Colombia both for local and international electronic music artists. Local folklore, new tropical music and even house and techno were both welcomed and well received in Latora. This September, local authorities closed the venue, claiming that it didn't have the license to function as a nightclub.