Round the corner from Brixton’s O2 Academy there’s a nightclub doorway. From the outside you’d think it’s a small gaff, but inside it’s a veritable Doctor Who’s Tardis! Formerly known as Plan B, Phonox was bought by the Columbo Group last year — they also own XOYO, The Nest and the Jazz Café, amongst other London venues — and had a tasty refurb before re-opening last September.
Best Of British award-winner Jasper James was immediately installed as a resident for Saturday nights, sometimes bringing down unannounced guests like Disclosure and Laura Jones, and other DJs who’ve played extended sets to the big square room recently on the Friday include Omar-S, Joy Orbison and DJ Sprinkles.
The old soap factory in a once-forgotten corner of England’s former-industrial capital must be lauded for its longevity, charting the rise, fall, and resurgence of Manchester’s club culture since 1994. Spanning 22 years of parties, with closures, re-openings, and a few redesigns thrown in to the mix, over the last 12 months Sankeys has retained its reputation as a powerful weekly magnet for anyone who enjoys dark rooms, loud speakers, and grade-A bookings.
Which is no mean feat. Its hometown is currently in rude health when it comes to all-night options, from small basement sessions to newly opened, purpose-built venues. Nevertheless, there’s not a local resident who doesn’t have a story to tell about this particular spot, with more added every Friday and Saturday.
A refreshingly simple layout involves a low-ceilinged, brick clad main room neither too big nor too small, usually reserved for tougher rhythms, and a lighter upstairs typified by less muscular tones, albeit there are no hard and fast rules here. Other than the quality of guests; Surgeon, Todd Terry, MJ Cole, Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb, Kerri Chandler, Nina Kraviz, Derrick May, and Huxley were amongst 2015’s highlights.
Journalists and musicians tend to chase genres like toddlers do pigeons. It’s often a dizzying and frantic flap around in circles. So when history screams ambiguity it is good to relax into the understanding that ‘music is just music’ and stylistic grey areas should be paddled in, not coloured in.
Opening a vinyl-only store in Soho just over 10 years ago was seen as a risky move. The area was, and still is, saturated with independent record shops and at the time, record shops were fighting for survival. But Phonica Records has proven resilient to music industry vagaries, changing formats and consumption habits, and a recession.