When Printworks London opened its doors last year, a 6000+ capacity, 16-acre venue located in the indubitably residential Canada Water area, it seemed to be a last ditch attempt to breath life into London’s long-since-presumed-to-be-dead party scene. Previous years have seen club culture in the capital arguably under attack – from smaller, intimate venues such as Dalston’s Passing Clouds being forced to close, to the brief stupor for fabric (which re-opened soon after and just celebrated its 18th birthday this past weekend).
But Printworks is an incredible venue in its own right; formerly an industrial space where newspapers used to be printed, it now bills itself as a ‘music and cultural space’. In the last year, Printworks has been host to much more than just huge names in techno, house and electronic music, it’s hosted Secret Cinema screenings, classical music festivals and Afropunk London.
But on the 21st October, club culture behemoths The Hydra and record label Ninja Tune chose it to host a day-time celebration of nightlife at its best: sweaty revelers and DJs who knew how to get a crowd going. Of the venue’s six rooms, the largest is Press Halls, a long, narrow space with dancers packed in right from the DJ booth at the front to the vast space at the back, and with a ceiling that seems to keep extending up and up. The cavernous space apparently holds up to 6,000. On the side of the main room was Charge Bays, a smaller room with more relaxed music in the same vein of experimental house and techno, for a far more intimate audience of around 200. Bars were littered around the area, often without particularly long waits, while the spacious smoking area boasted food trucks and even seating.
Machine Woman opened the Press Halls before Helena Hauff brought her signature stripped-down techno and industrial-inspired tracks from upcoming EP Have You Been There, Have You Seen It (which is out on Ninja Tune on October 27th). Berghain mainstays Ame picked up where she left off, with distorted vocal samples, lush metallic sounds and huge techno tracks that kept the atmosphere going, interspersed with more experimental house numbers.
Predictably, house-electronic music duo Bicep elicited the largest reactions from the crowd – their most recent self-titled album received rave reviews from critics and has already set many a club-goer moving since it was released – playing disco bangers with otherworldly basslines and some crowd-pleasers from their album. Modeselektor was the perfect choice to finish off the night – eclectic and energetic, the German electronic duo’s track selection ranged between house-hip-hop, dubstep and techno, keeping feet on the floor until the very last minutes.
A dedicated visual team elevated the mood with an incredible lightshow that far surpasses any other big clubbing space in London – people spent much of their time looking up at the ceiling, watching the lights and lasers dance around them. What makes Printworks unique is that no matter where you are in the room, because of its incredible sound system and visual effects, the experience remains special.
Undoubtedly, Printworks’ strength arises from the huge space that it occupies – stewards in orange coats hold signs that direct you towards the venue, and once inside, unlike many other clubs, there were ample places for ravers to sit down, stay hydrated or catch their breath. As long as Printworks keeps bringing in big, experimental names in music, it’s on its way to becoming a venerated institution in the London cultural scene.