Earlier this month, after a brief but noble reign as one of London’s best clubs, Dance Tunnel shut its doors forever.
Conveniently located underneath Kingsland Road’s finest pizza joint, the 200-capacity basement brought world class DJs and underground up-and-comers alike into its pitch-dark embrace during its three-and-a-bit years in business. Whether you nabbed a golden ticket to DJ Sprinkles or dropped in for some Thursday night talent-spotting at FWD>> (which found a home at Dance Tunnel after the closure of Plastic People), the quality never let up.
For us in the FACT office, a sweaty all-nighter with Helena Hauff, Bicep’s huge night back in 2013 and the Dance Mania special with Parris Mitchell are particularly cherished memories, but it was all brilliant really, and the closure is a serious blow to underground dance music in this city – especially on top of the avalanche of other club shutdowns we’ve seen in recent years.
By way of farewell, we asked a selection of staff and promoters to pick the tunes that defined the closing weeked at Dance Tunnel, and we got some absolute gems in return.
In the meantime, club owner Dan Beaumont and the Dance Tunnel Soundsystem will be keeping the dream alive at Field Maneuvers Festival on September 2-5, with a DT x FM takeover alongside Arnaldo, Hannah Holland, John Gomez.
You won’t have heard the last of Thunder, Tief, Way Back Here and the rest of DT’s finest regular nights, either – head to Bloc next month for a Thunder all-nighter with Hunee.
‘If You Could Read My Mind’
Dan Beaumont, owner: “Is there something in my eye?”
Girls On Top
‘I Wanna Dance With Numbers’
(2001, What Goes Around Records)
Matt Hesselworth, Tief promoter: “Reserved only for special moments and weddings!”
Mr. & Mrs. Dale
‘It’s You (Free House Mix)’
(1989, Bigshot Records)
Iona Thomas, staff: “The vocal sounds like it’s saying ‘when you’re thirsty,’ which is apt as we drank the club dry at the closing party.”
Daniel Cherney, manager: “Ben UFO played only 30 seconds of this track early in the set as a little tease at the last ever FWD (our regular) and it drove everyone crazy. Best ever DJ playing the best ever track right.”
‘Bizarre Love Triangle’
(1986, Factory Records)
Ella Hagi, staff: “‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ actually captures Dance Tunnel perfectly. You know the song and you love it, but you probably don’t expect to hear it. That was Dance Tunnel – even when you didn’t know what to expect, you just knew you could walk through the doors and you’d always experience something incredible.”
‘You Don’t Know (Limited Edition Special Remix)’
(1984, Easy Street Records)
Luke Hopper, Way Back Here promoter: “My penultimate tune of the set and one that’s always been in the bag every time I’ve played DT.”
Cajmere feat. Walter Phillips
‘Midnight (Original Mix)’
(2004, Cajual Records)
Miles Simpson, Thunder promoter: “Annoyingly, ‘I Need You’, Sylvester’s summary of my feelings about Dance Tunnel, isn’t on YouTube, so I’ll meet you on the dancefloor at midnight…”
‘Getting Away With It’
(1989, Factory Records)
Matt Wickings, venue programmer: “Fitting ending. I love that place.”
Read next: An Oral History of Plastic People