“ 150 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU. tel = (020) 7247 3293 „
The best thing about 93 Feet East is the end of the night. Not because it's crap, but because it's really near to Beigel Bakery on Brick Lane, which is open 24 hours a day and sells the best munchies anywhere in London, and I DARE YOU to argue. Freshly-baked bagels crammed with cream cheese are 50p. Huge, rich, chewy chocolate brownies are 50p. And so on (Pret-a-Manger crawls back under its rock). Now that wasn't very fair as an opening, because 93FE is really rather a good venue, but I had to spit out my praise of the aforementioned cafe first - I don't have enough to say about it to write a whole article, but really feel that the whole world ought to be aware of its brilliance. IT'S BRILLIANT! Anyway, 93 Feet East. The more hawk-eyed among you may have noted that it is situated on London's Brick Lane in E1, one of the funkiest areas in the capital at the moment. As a venue it is still in its infancy - it was only opened in its present form in December 2000 on the site of the old Truman's Brewery - but this is one precocious child, having gained immense popularity in just over three months. It is listed as a live 'audio-visual' venue in the entertainment guides, which is not really anything new, but it does its thang with real sparkle. It claims to cater for all 'alternative' musical tastes - Sneaker Pimps have already played there - but the event I want to rave about is the 'Soundz of the Asian Underground' event, Anokha, most recently held on 7 March. Anokha (£8) is arranged by superstar DJ Talvin Singh and plays the best of Indian-Western fusion drum 'n' bass (sorry, I hate music categorisation, but it needs to be explained somehow). The last CD released by Anokha gives a very true impression of the kind of thing you can expect to hear and is GORGEOUS, definitely one of my top three albums ever. But wait. I'm supposed to be reviewing 93 Feet East. Not doing too well so far, am I? S
till, it can never hurt to have background information. Um...right. THE VENUE The actual club consist of two main rooms downstairs – one large, one fairly small - and a chill-out lounge upstairs. It has a 500-600 capacity. Apparently there is also a recording studio attached to it somewhere, but I guess that’s not an open-to-the-public thing. All the rooms have an awesome sound system; the lighting is adequate but nothing to write home about. Personally I adored the upstairs lounge. It has plenty of sofas and a kind of balcony on which the door is kept open, letting refreshing air streams through the room. At Anokha – and I suspect this was event-specific – the bar was alcohol free and served fresh fruit juices and Indian food. Prices were fairly reasonable (tall glass of coke £1.50), but then Anokha is held midweek. My main criticism of the venue is that the one cloakroom is tiny and just closes when it is full. We arrived at this 10-3 event at 11pm and found we had nowhere to leave our coats, scarves and bags which was very frustrating. THE LOCATION Careful now. On the map, 93 Feet East is right next door to Shoreditch tube on the East London line. Don’t start getting excited yet though and assume you’ve avoided that awful cold post-club walk and half-hour wait for a bus. This station is only open on Sunday mornings (for Brick Lane market) and at peak times Monday-Friday, so nine times out of ten you’ll need to walk either to Liverpool Street or Aldgate East tubes. Having said that, neither of these is more than ten minutes away. And you can always kill time in Beigel Bakery!! Oh, and a tip: shed your Englishness. Don’t even attempt to queue in this shop – it is madly busy even in the small hours. Just shout. Other geographical notes: Brick Lane is in the borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest in the city, which has a large Asian population. A lot of arts and new media companies
are based there. THE CROWD The night we visited, the punters seemed to be mostly in their 20s and early 30s, but if a band is playing I guess age goes out of the window anyway. What’s important isn’t really how old you are, but your attitude. The crowd in 93FE is laid back (there was a lot of hash being smoked but again, this was probably due to the event we were at) and well-dressed (but in a funky offbeat way, not a magazine-perfect way). It’s very difficult to imagine there being any real trouble there, although while we were queuing (this made me laugh a lot), a bouncer carried this girl gently outside – she was bolt upright and clearly confused – and deposited her in the courtyard. God knows what she’d being doing or saying. But I really think this was an isolated incident – once in the club people were friendly and relaxed. That queue, incidentally, moved extremely fast - we were waiting no longer than 5 minutes even though the club was quite full. I would heartily recommend a visit to 93 Feet East, mostly because it is a genuinely good venue, but also because it runs the risk of being so cool that in 6 months’ time it won’t be cool any more...