After Dark: The End of the road

No sooner had The End completed its successful 1997 World Tour (taking them as far as Portugal, France, Holland, Slovenia, Ireland, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and Berlin) that they decided they needed a more exotic location. They finally settled on Old Blighty and embarked on The Electric Ladyland Tour 1998, hitting 12 venues across the UK.

Before steaming through Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Aberdeen, first stop was Warwick University on 10 January. Most revellers were still recovering from New Year's Eve excesses but, characteristically, The End has never been comfortable adhering to tradition.

Everyone knows The End as a venue. Its bright neons, soft woods, excellent design and bangin' sound system have carved out a strong following in London's sea of copy-cat clubs.

Success has been founded on a willingness to experiment musically and champion sounds that were, for the best part, ignored by mainstream venues.

"We try to create clubbing with integrity," says Layo Paskin, DJ and co-owner (with Mr C) of The End. "So many clubs go for the easy route, so we try and be a little more sophisticated. You wouldn't believe it if you bought Volume 50 of Ministry of Sound's latest CD, but it's the edges of the scene that drive the industry along.

"1997 was a good year and '98 looks like it will be too, but you're always trying to improve along the way. Right now we feel confident about exporting The End's sound."

Taking the name and inspiration from Jimi Hendrix's most successful psychedelic album, The Electric Ladyland Tour spearheads a new image for The End's label, graphics and design.

The tour presents The End as a total clubbing package; the DJs, the visuals - the entire vibe.

The entire package means a variety of beats. In the space of one night you'll hear drum 'n' bass, breakbeat, and bass-driven techno in addition to The End's funky techno loops.

You'll also see DJs mixing at the same time. The thought of big-name DJs sharing the same space is rare enough, but their willingness to vibe off each other results in some of the most innovative mixing you'll ever hear in a club. Four Technics turntables, three DJs and one tune.

"We never practised or rehearsed it," says Matthew B. "The first time we did it was pretty much off the cuff. We've got it down to a bit more of an art now because we all know each other so well.

"The person on the main decks plays whatever they want and the second person plays something a bit more minimal so it doesn't sound like a lot of noise.

"It takes about five minutes to get it all up and running and we can keep going for as long as we want. It's more fun for the crowd and interesting and challenging for us.

Tonight's gig at The End signals the final leg of the tour. Mr C, Layo and Matthew B are joined by Darren Emerson, Dave Angel and a host of other spinners to round off the tour in style. "Touring is a good way of working together and promoting the club around the country," Matthew B explains. "It's not just about individual DJs bringing down their records and playing; it's our reputation that's on the line."

Naturally, there are already plans for another transatlantic tour but there are also impressive modifications about to made to The End itself.

Nearly a million pounds have been invested to open a new bar/restaurant on the ground floor of the club. There are also plans to implement cultural events, art exhibitions, and a preview cinema on Monday nights.

Visit The End sooner rather than later. It doesn't appear as if the queues will be shortening any time soon.

Electric Ladyland Tour, The End, West Central Street WC1 (0171-419 9199) tonight, 11pm-5am, pounds 10 members/pounds 13 others

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