I'm pretty melancholy to see The End nightclub is to
close. Unusually for this kind of news, it's not a financially
dictated decision – the management just feel that after 15
years they want to move on.
For those who don't know The End, it's down a dead end alley in central London. Once you're in and down the main staircase, there's a bar on one side and the main room on the other. But the main room isn't a large open space – it's divided by a central partition into two long tunnels, and with the lights from the DJ end rather dim at the far end of the room, you can feel completely lost in the gloom down there. You're never submerged into a large crowd because of the way the room is divided up, you just feel scattered amongst small groups of ravers. At the back of the room is a second set of speakers, so even if you can't see the DJ, you get a full, primal blast of whatever he's playing. So you're both physically disconnected and totally plugged into the music.
For me the effect of being in a rave has always had a kind of fight or flight psychology; you face the DJ, because you feel a bit exposed if you don't, and you feel totally switched on, attuned to the space. The End was great because the space felt so complex and fluid, it didn't feel like you were just in a crowd. Every space in the crowd felt particular. If there was a subtle sense of chaos there, but the music was always fiercely strong. I remember DJ Krust playing "Warhead" down there, and the bass felt like the roof was going to lift off. In later years, dubstep and Grime events have been pretty terrific, too.
It's strange to reminisce about The End and compare these thoughts to a recent Resident Advisor list of The Top 100 Clubs In The World. Although I appreciated the sentiment of the list, to have somewhere so impersonal and physically intimidating as Fabric at number two just seemed to miss what's special about the dance music experience, ie the subjective, personal space that can be created in a nightclub.