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World Dance, K-R Warehouse Complex, The Royal Victoria Docks, London E14 (0171-613 4768), tonight, 7pm-7am, pounds 19 members/pounds 23 others

Last New Year's Eve, Wembley Conference Centre housed the capital's biggest New Year's Eve event, uniting over 12,000 revellers. World Dance events blend the best of "old-skool" rave with state-of-the-art 1990s technology. Their events offers a throwback to the origins of house music and the birth of the modern clubbing scene.

Their gargantuan events are a far cry from more humble beginnings, organising illegal raves. "We don't like to use the term `illegal', we prefer `unlicensed'," explains event promoter, Jay Pender with a wry smile.

Co-promoter Chris Leonard also cut his teeth during the "golden age" of warehouse clubbing. "We didn't know what we were doing in the early days. We simply broke into a warehouse and put on a party. We had a sound system and a few lights but we didn't have any security or even toilets.

"Looking back now, it's incredible that we didn't get in any trouble. Luckily the police never bothered with us as our events were too small."

The country's most successful clubs hold slightly more than a thousand people on any one night. World Dance events are grander in every sense of the word, with guests attending in their thousands.

"A club with a limited capacity and fixed furnishings is too restrictive," explains Jay. "The Ministry of Sound is a big venue, but it's too small to house an all-singing, all-dancing World Dance event. No club in this country can match the feeling of being in a venue with 5,000 people."

"We offer multi-themed arenas and funfairs to provide a wider clubbing experience," adds Chris. "We only do around four World Dance events a year; it keeps the vibe fresh and enables us to move with the latest trends."

Memories of illegal raves coupled with a constant association with drug abuse have attracted considerable criticism over the years. World Dance are renowned for their professionalism and believe that the clubbing industry is often criticised unfairly.

"We do not cut corners with safety," says Jay. "Having St John's Ambulances or first-aiders at Victoria Docks fulfils our lawful obligations, but we insist on paramedics and a doctor being on the premises at all times.

"We're not naive enough to think that we have a drug-free event, but we'll tackle it head on. Many of these so-called `new' initiatives are simply intended to shut clubs down. We think that events like ours are an ideal opportunity for intelligence gathering, to stop drug dealing where it's happening. We all know it goes on, so let's attack it, but don't blame the event for it. The drug problem isn't the dance industry's problem, it's society's."

Tonight's event is World Dance's first promotion of 1997. Five separate arenas will showcase five individual genres of music.

Arena one has the best in drum'n'bass: Seduction, DJ Hype, DJ Spinback and Dougal all feature. Fabio and Doc Scott play in intelligent drum'n'bass arena two.

Arena three features some the UK's finest house DJs: Tall Paul, Graham Gold and Brandon Block all appear on the Technics. Arena four houses old- skool beats: The Rat Pack, Colin Hudd and Aphrodite control the phat beats, while arena five is dedicated to experimental tunes.

A word of advice: don't make any concrete plans for the next day. You're going to need a day to recover from this 12-hour dance marathon.