18 West Central Street,
(020) 7240 1083
The ViewLondon Review
When the End and AKA closed their doors in early 2009, clubbers were sad to see such institutions of the London club scene go. The latest reincarnation of the site has been hotly anticipated. However, this new club is so very much like the old one, it remains to be seen whether it will simply attempt to ape the legendary nights the End put on, or whether it will shape up to bring something fresh to the table.
There has been little renovation and redecoration of the club since it was the End. There are the same chrome stairs at the entrance, the same blue lit bar, the same two rooms, the main one with the famous circular DJ booth in the centre of the dance floor and the smaller one with the murals on the walls and leather seating. Any new features are subtle at best.
The main room is now decorated with street art designs such as skulls and diamonds on bare concrete and has a small bar at one end and a wall of speakers at the other. The second smaller room has little red leather seats and a velvet mattress seat at one end with a graffiti-style mural on one wall depicting people partying. There are also kaleidoscopic lights that add dashes of colour as you dance. The sound system is just as booming and brilliant as the one at the End, and there is a rumour that this is actually still the same beast.
As with most West End clubs, the clientele at the Den make a massive effort to look sexy and fashionable. Everyone is immaculately dressed, and there are definitely a number of poseurs who are there to be seen. However, the majority of the crowd are there for the music, and this is reflected in their up for it attitudes. People here just want to let their hair down and dance until the sun comes up. The atmosphere can be stunted by a slow fill up but this will hopefully improve as more people are made aware the site has reopened.
The bar staff are eager and friendly and all the bars have plenty of people working behind them so service is swift. That said, the door staff can be a little too pushy as you enter, which can be a little unwelcoming.
The line up of music tends to be house, techno and electro orientated with a splash of mash up alternative music mixed in. The launch featured DJ sets by indie darlings Foals, Hoxton Whores and headliners Hot Chip. You can also expect plenty of up and coming house and techno names such as Jason Taylor and Ivan Escura.
The Den is also the new home of Popstarz, the Friday night gay alternative party, so there are signs that it will provide an eclectic mix of acts and sounds for different crowds much like its predecessor. There is going to be plenty of pressure for the Den to secure the kind of huge name DJs and underground innovators that the End was capable of.
Expensive and a little unimaginative, the bar at the Den seems to be set up for speed of service. No draught beers are available, only bottles that come in at £3.80 each. The spirit measures are doubles and are priced at £8.50 for a mixed drink. There is standard selection of mid-range spirits with some premium spirits such as Grey Goose on the shelves.
Overall, the bar is a touch uninspiring with neon party shots such as Aftershock and plastic cups for your drinks. This is a bar stocked with drinks to either knock back in one or take with you on to a packed dance floor. Those looking for something a little different will be disappointed.
The Last Word
The Den has a great foundation and huge potential. The End was a hugely popular venue when it closed; however, the owners and promoters are different now and it would be a mistake to assume that the space alone will continue to pull in the End’s regular fans. A few risks would be worth taking to push this place forward and make it a great venue in its own right.
The Den has been reviewed by 16 users