“I have absolutely no qualms about joining forces with Junction 2, their reputation is second to none, so they are going to take care of us, and you guys are gonna get the same experience that you get in fabric, you’re just going to be in the great outdoors.”
It’s hard to believe there are any clubbers from the past two decades who have no idea of how important fabric has been for global nightlife. For fans of house, techno, drum’n’bass, grime and much, much more, the presence of the London club at the vanguard of dance music has been a beacon of consistency. Founded at a time when glitzy super-clubs in London were charging £18 for a G&T, fabric was an atomic bomb that went off in 1999 and has been exploding ever since. It was a place that did things differently, a club that focused on the sound and where the parties went on forever. Beyond the slick design and bodysonic dancefloor, however, it was (and still is) a club run by enthusiasts like promoter, Judy Griffith (19 years on the clock), and head of promotions, Andy Blackett (with the club for 10 years).
As part of their 20th birthday celebrations, fabric has curated Friday’s Bridge line-up for Junction 2, so Judy and Andy sat down with us for a chat.
There from the start, Judy recalls how much of the early impulse behind fabric was pure energy: “When I think back to the early days of the club, I just think we used to have it right off, you know? It’s like the first 10 years, every single weekend was just a joyous experience.” For those early adopters it became more than a job and more like a lifestyle. She remembers, “It was a case of ‘I never want to go home anyway’. We used to have that spontaneity where you just get to 8 o’clock, when we were supposed to close, and the club would just carry on and on until we wanted to stop.”
“…anyone representing fabric’s sound has got to be a proper digger, to have a really good range, lots of good vinyl and really, really have an attention to detail and sound. So, all of those DJs, we are lucky enough that they fit that criteria, so yeah, bring it on!”
Memories of marathon sessions over the years remain a highlight for both Judy and Andy, but it’s the 15th birthday in 2014 that stands out for both. Andy’s recollection is of “Âme and Dixon during the day, Ricardo, Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann doing 12 hours straight B2B in room 2, and the only reason we stopped was because Marcel had to get to ADE about midday.” Judy, likewise, says “Obviously all the birthdays have always been incredible because they go on for 30 hours. I remember Ben and Marcel were only supposed to play for 8 hours I think, and they kind of ended up playing for about 12 or 13.” These aren’t just memories, however, but the governing principles of a club where, Judy continues, “It is that kind of spontaneity I like about people that play here, where they’re always up for it, for carrying on, for the challenge. We’ve got so many artists that are on the same wavelength as us. We’re all ravers at the end of the day.”
So many of these artists have been integral to fabric’s success that Friday’s line-up at The Bridge in Boston Manor Park feels like a natural billing. On the subject of two of the club’s most totemic figures, Craig Richards and Ricardo Villalobos, Andy comments that certain artists “have a resonance with us because in everything we do we’ve always tried to build long relationships, and if you’re talking about fabric, you’ve got to talk about Craig and then really followed by Ricardo. They’re the mainstays of this club, so whenever we do something outside we always like to involve them, because if there is a sound of Saturday nights at fabric, it’s probably those two.”
Judy is similarly effusive about the other names on the list. “Dixon and Koze, I mean, both of them we’ve been booking for years. In fact, I think I may be able to lay claim to being the first club to book Dixon in London. I used to have him in Room 3, so watching Dixon’s journey has been incredible! He used to play for me all the time in Room 3, him and Âme, super nice. And even Koze, we’ve been booking him probably since his early Kompakt days. He’s a proper digger; anyone representing fabric’s sound has got to be a proper digger, to have a really good range, lots of good vinyl and really, really have an attention to detail and sound. So, all of those DJs, we are lucky enough that they fit that criteria, so yeah, bring it on!”
Despite the continuity that sticking with these artists has encouraged, both Judy and Andy recognise how different the clubbing landscape is 20 years on. Even for an institution like fabric, it’s a change that contains opportunities but also some challenges. For Judy, economics plays a big role in the current scene. “Now, of course, it’s much more conscious and I don’t think the kids have the same disposable income as we did. They have to pick and choose now. Also, the whole rave thing was part of my generation, you know, we kind of invented it and then we kind of rolled with it for years and years and are still rolling with it now.”
“When I think back to the early days of the club, I just think we used to have it right off, you know? It’s like the first 10 years, every single weekend was just a joyous experience. […] It was a case of ‘I never want to go home anyway’
With 20 years behind them, stepping forward into this new landscape has required a great deal of planning. Andy’s view is that this anniversary is a moment of “rebirth”. He adds, “You can be really nostalgic with 20 years, but we don’t want to seem like the old man on the block, so you have to move forward with the times. Obviously the closure we had forced upon us for 5 months made us realise you can’t have all your eggs in one basket.” When they did return to active duty it was with a desire to “get outside our 4 walls”.
Although they’ve ventured outside EC1 previously, this summer’s appearance at Junction 2 marks something new. Andy says, “You can’t take a club in its essence to a festival, but you can take certain elements of it, and that is mainly the music policy and the level of sound quality, and as long as you take those two things with you, you’ll be fine. But the essence of a festival, I think, is to be outdoors. We learnt that and we corrected it and I think this is another step up for us.” Having watched the growth of Junction 2, it’s a step they’re happy to take. “Junction 2 have the same ethos as we do in terms of sound, production, and just attention to detail in general. If you’re going to choose a festival in London, Junction 2 is the one.”
Judy’s message to fabric regulars is clear. “I have absolutely no qualms about joining forces with Junction 2, their reputation is second to none, so they are going to take care of us, and you guys are gonna get the same experience that you get in fabric, you’re just going to be in the great outdoors.” When it comes to their night at The Bridge, both are excited at the prospect. Andy thinks it’s “probably the best festival stage, definitely in London, if not the UK, in terms of aesthetics and looks and presence. Junction 2 has that unique look and that unique look is The Bridge. Whenever you look at a photo of The Bridge you know what festival it is.” Judy adds the final note of a seasoned raver. “Oh my God, I love The Bridge, it’s such a great spot at Junction 2. And the thought that all these cars are like going off over the top of us and we’re underneath giving it large, like yeah, utopia man! It’s gonna be a really good rave.”
fabric host The Bridge on Friday 7th June.
Words by: Stephen Connolly