Previously a haunt more associated with the glitzy garms of VIP club culture than grimy underground principles, London's wing of the infamous Ibiza brand has had allegiances with promotions such as Hed Kandi, Cafe Mambo and Dreamland over the years, bringing names like Shapeshifters and Bingo Players to the venue. Following refurbishments turning the venue into more of a clubbers' club — relocated booth, a new third room and better lights — Fridays at the club have taken a new direction since the tail-end of 2012.
Embracing today's increasingly mainstream interest in less commercially engineered forms of house music, the Pacha Presents series has welcomed the likes of Lovebirds, Phil Weeks, Burnski, Hector Couto, Cedric Maison and Citizen to command the Martin Audio system of this plush den of iniquity in London's Victoria so far this year. “Obviously we are not a dark warehouse in Shoreditch and we do have a very aesthetically pleasing club, so we can attract your more affluent customer also,” explains Ellis Reilly Coles, the driving force behind Pacha Presents. “But whereas perhaps before this was a major part of the club's identity, music now plays centre stage and this is reflected in our customer.”
The decision to change tack at a time when house music is enjoying plenty of radio play and, as a result, undergoing a renaissance in the UK charts, is no coincidence. Decent music is more accessible than ever before these days and this has only gone to cultivate people's interests in a genre of music perhaps previously considered niche or specialist, Ellis believes. “We keep hearing about dance music becoming too commercial or whatever, but the simple fact of the matter is that a lot of the stuff that's crossing over, like your Disclosures, is accessible music and appeals to a wide range of listener, simple as that,” he says.
“The underground will always be the underground and that's that. It will always exist because there are always going to be people who want to listen to things that no one else is, and then when everyone's listening to it they won't be interested anymore. If you're that bothered about being super cool and underground go watch Zip and Ricardo play at Panorama Bar, because you sure as hell ain't gonna be hearing that stuff on Radio 1 anytime soon. Cue Pete Tong calling on Villalobos for an Essential Mix next week...”
The resulting dynamic has left Ellis and his team in a position to pick and choose line-ups based on quality, or personal taste, rather than relying solely on names guaranteed to fill a big room. As a result, Friday nights at the club have seen VIP culture diminish to a point that it's practically “non-existent”, he says. “If it's good music there is a place for it at the club,” explains Ellis. “It's important that the club is not one-dimensional and only appeals to one type of clubber, so will be exploring different avenues in the coming months to ensure that the club's programming can have something for everyone.” With the mothership of the brand taking on residencies from Solomun and Guy Gerber this year, UK clubbers will be in turn taking back experiences of a different kind from The White Isle this season. Pacha Presents on a Friday is in a prime position to reinforce the brand's diversity even further on home soil.
Want to get a feel for the new music policy? We had the Pacha London crew in our office for a live stream on Friday featuring Dexter Kane & Josh Butler. You can watch this below.
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