After Dark: Brixton thrills

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Brixton is (in)famous for many things. Anyone who has lived in the area will testify to the friendly locals, cultural diversity and a bustling tube station that attracts commuters and vagrants in equal number. And the area also boasts some of the capital's hottest nightspots

Brixton has always had some of the best blues and dancehall events while the legendary Brixton Academy has attracted some of the greatest artists in the world. Yet, until now, and with the exception of the Fridge (which seems to have been around for ever), the area has never been renowned for its clubs.

Over the past two years, Brixton has undergone a clubbing transformation. There's a buzz around the area that hasn't been felt since Soul II Soul were residents at The Fridge. Scores of night owls have been streaming into South London to hook up with Brixton's cosmopolitan residents.

While most clubs in zone 1 adhere to a rigid formula of deep house, neo- industrial interiors, inflexible dress codes and inflated admission prices, Brixton has changed the script. Smaller venues (often traditional pubs) are offering free admission, a relaxed dress code and a diverse range of beats to boot.

Within a 200-metre stretch on Brixton's Coldharbour Lane, a small cluster of venues, like Club 414, The Dogstar and The George IV, seem to be rammed whenever they open their doors. Rare grooves, `80s funk, progressive drum'n'bass and hip-hop are all mixed with various shades of house and live performances creating a broad church for moon worshippers.

Club 414 provides an oasis for techno headz. The venue is split into two levels; either chill upstairs or hit the dancefloor downstairs. The venue attracts an unusual mixture of crusties and tech heads with no attitude. The Dogstar looks like a large pub from the street but the booming beats that flood out onto the street indicate its true nature.

The decks are situated in the middle of the floor and the chairs and tables always get pushed back around the witching hour. No stout in the snug here, the Dogstar is a magnate for the young and hip who come to drink, chill and dance. Probably the best attended venue in Brixton.

The vibe in Brixton also borrows heavily from bar culture. All the best venues have late licences so you can stay and party way past your bedtime. The increasing popularity of these venues is simultaneously providing a public platform for many local DJs, MCs and promoters.

More importantly, the music on offer, regardless of personal tastes, has integrity. We're not talking about piped-in background music here, the tunes are up front and in your face courtesy of some formidable sound systems.

The Fridge Bar encapsulates Brixton's new breed of venue. It shares the same name with big brother and next door neighbour The Fridge nightclub, which has long been famous for its gay promotions. Yet, increasingly it is the Fridge Bar that has punters queuing around the block.

Holding more than 200 people on two floors, the upstairs bar is decked out in soft, bright pastels while the dusky basement boasts a cavernous quality.

DJs play everything from drum'n' bass on a Wednesday night to funk and soul classics on Friday. The place is rammed on most nights of the week and is always impressively over-subscribed at weekends.

From Sunday through to Saturday, it's the perfect place to meet and hear innovative sounds during the evening or go for morning munchies after a taxing night of debauchery.

So what is Brixton's secret? All the best venues are non-discriminatory. With no dress/age/music codes to adhere to, clubs attract revellers of all tastes, ages, gender and sexual orientation. The end result is the freshest nocturnal scene in the capital.

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