The End is the brainchild of Mr C, aka Richard West, one half of techno- pop duo the Shamen. For several years now, Mr C has been an integral part of Britain's uniquely subversive dance culture, not just as performer and producer of catchy ditties about the joys of empathogenic substances, but also as a bona fide shit-hot techno DJ, who despite nominal pop star status still works the decks at clubs all over Britain. And he's got a sense of humour, too, bless him. After all, C is the man who had a number one single with the chorus "Es are good, Es are good, he's Ebeneezer Goode". And though sophisticates may sneer, I doff my crown to anyone who in these dark days could have a smash hit with a song titled "Love, Sex, Intelligence".
Of course, Mr C has his fair share of critics, who deride his attempts to raise the dance phenomenon's ontological debate, the discourse of disco. But if he fails in his attempts to convey a deeper, more complex and subtle appreciation of the post-modern dance ritual, he at least has the courage to try. To understand just how far he has come, you should know that Richard is your average north London working-class kid from the Caledonian Road. This is where they breed cannon-fodder Arsenal fans as a matter of duty, and villainy is one of the more attractive and accessible career options.
If you got to know him well enough, C would tell you how the warmth and spaciousness of the early Acid House movement opened his heart, eyes and mind, and set him on the seeker's path. And after a while, you would realise that he has always felt an obligation to put something back into the scene that nourished him. Accordingly, he has resolutely refused to play the traditional pop star role. No French country houses, flash cars or actress girlfriends. He still lives in a small flat in north London, and from the beginning spent the bulk of his earnings establishing a record label, Plink Plonk, in order to give others like himself a chance. He doesn't luxuriate in slovenly stardom or cocoon himself like some media demi-god.
Instead, he gets out there and plays the music he loves for people who share his passion for informed hedonism, travelling to clubs all over the South Coast, where he first encountered the extended family atmosphere characteristic of true rave culture. Staying close to the source hasn't been easy. Whenever he plays London, some of his old mates from the Cally still expect him to buy every round, to subsidise their nights out. C bears it patiently, explaining that he makes his money work for as many as possible, not just some cosy little clique. Some get it, others call him tight. But not to his face, mind.
So when C and his business partner Leo Paskin decided to build a club, they started from a place few club managers have ever seen: the top. The vast majority of clubs are run by bottom-line businessmen who have no empathy with the scene. The End is probably the first nightclub to be built by those who have come up through the dance scene, and are determined to elevate dance culture to its rightful status.
Having acquired a former Post Office depot in the West End, C and Leo started by digging down nearly five feet in order to lay underfloor air- conditioning (with a system designed by the team who did Heathrow's Terminal 3). Above this stands 4,000 square feet of sprung dancefloor, centrally located DJ booths, four speaker stacks built on concrete plinths to negate reverberation, with digital delays to ensure crisp, perfectly balanced sound across the whole room. The custom-built system can deliver 50 kilowatts, although this will never be used at full, ear-shattering power. State of the art lighting, including Opti-Kinetic projectors, complete an unprecedented arena for 800 clubbers.
The overall design is cool, minimal, hi-tech, with a 20-foot cobalt blue bar and chaises longues in the lounge area, and stainless steel toilets, with 12 cubicles in the ladies. Even the drinks are reasonably priced. There are too many other excellent features to list here, but this is undoubtedly a venue designed by and for connoisseurs of dance culture, one that will set standards. It may even be the best medium-sized club in Europe.
"It's about giving something back," says C. "We could have done it at half the cost, but we wanted to build something special, something that represents what we feel about the scene. It's about taking that underground vibe and pushing it into the mainstream. We've been there, we know how good it can get, and we think that should be the norm, not the exception. Hopefully, if we succeed, others will have to follow suit."
The End is located in West Central Street, London WC1. Details of its opening on 0171-379 4770Reuse content