Sometimes certain places just need to have a simple setup. Just a decent-sized dancefloor, good lighting, great sound, a not-too-busy Bar area (and of course toilets!). And that’s it.
Village Underground nails it – I went a few weeks back to watch Skream’s Open To Close gig there, all night – and it’s a simple and exceptional place.
Just off Shoreditch High Street, it’s not far at all from the hassle and bustle of East/Central London’s main areas and in walking distance from Tube/Overground stations, so not too far out at all to get to and easy to ‘pop in’ if you and friends fancy a night out – and with enough around the venue for pre-drinks/meals before going there, without having to get Cabs, etc.
I’ve been here two/three times over the years and the queues/entry system doesn’t take long at all (although I’ve seen pictures of streams of people outside for it’s most popular gigs) it’s really quick in terms of entry and searches, and as it’s just off a main road, it doesn’t attract random touters in queues either (which can be annoying)
In terms of the venue, the main thing about it – as soon as you enter – is the layout. It genuinely has a refurbed-feel of the old Warehouse Rave venues back in the day – very simple in design – with the big dancefloor area immediately to the left, and the bar to the right (toilets/cloakroom areas are directly near the entrance), even the roof had the see-through perspex to give it that industrial look.
The dancefloor area is big and simple – not obscured by pillars, etc, with a clear view to the booth/DJ stage area, with the raised section against the left-hand wall and along the back. It could hold roughly 100-150 people, and not big enough that you’re not going to lose any of your friends.
The sound quality is really good – on this particular night two big-bass speakers at the front with speakers at the back/middle of the dancefloor area, meant that the music sounds the same no matter what part of the floor you were on. Whilst it wasn’t on the same audio quality level as say XOYO/Fabric (I felt there were some issues with Bass rumbling toward the end of the night) it was still really really good. It was somewhat quite dark on the night, apart from the colourful lighting beaming from the main stage, and towards the end of the night (where there was a lot of techno!) It was almost pitch-black, which makes the place seem a lot bigger than what it is.
On the right-hand side of the venue is the Bar area – with an arch-type wall on the backwith the Bar encompassing the same width of the dancefloor, it’s really big and quick to get served (whilst I found that there wasn’t a lot a variety of drinks on offer, it was reasonably priced). Opposite the Bar are a few seating areas too, which are ideally positioned so people can get to from the dancefloor area if they want to take a break (with lots of free water towards the end of the night, which was very helpful!) Staff there were also really quick and helpful.
An arch-like wall was behind the bar (a throwback to likely how the venue used to be many years ago) that leads back to the toilet/entrance/cloakroom area – there was an actual arch you could pop yourself though to get there.
Overall, a fantastic place and it’s one of those rare places you have to be sure to go more than once – adequate for all types of gigs – and a signature venue for London nightlife, for good reason!