The Electric Ballroom is one of the places I'd always meant to go to but it took three years in London before I finally got round to going. And I wish I'd been sooner. Although this is strictly a review of Full-Tilt, the venue is an inextricable part of the night so a little about that is in order I think... The Ballroom is a fantastic venue. Size-wise it's almost spot-on. The main dance floor is pretty big by usual club standards and the ceiling is fairly high up. This means that i) you can wave your arms / legs about as much as you want with a minimal chance of hitting someone if you're careful, ii) you can breathe while doing so and iii) you've got a reasonable chance of holding a conversation around the edges. There's a smaller room upstairs but this is still a fair size. The third room (chill-out) I don't think ever actually opens any more. The website claims attendances of about 1000 and this seems about right. It's not overcrowded to the extent that you can't move anywhere and I've never had to queue too long to get in. There's plenty of bars so you never have to queue long for a drink and a pint is reasonable at £3, although the clubber's Red Bull equivalent and Coke is a hefty £6 or so. Tap water's free. The bar closes at 2, an hour before the club at 3. Worth bearing in mind but how can you dance holding a pint anyway? On to the music... The EB website lists Industrial, Goth, Punk and Techno on the ground floor with Metal and Heavy Rock on the second. This is a fair description but other styles are played as well. Music in fact ranges from pure dance heaven - Euphoric tracks like Delerium - "Silence" and Leftfield - "Open Up" to heavy, dirty thrash metal. I have a very limited knowledge of Industrial, Goth and metal but there are usually a few tunes I recognise and mostly it's good to dance to. I recently took a friend who is n
ot really into the this kind of stuff but he enjoyed it. The atmosphere I've always found is great and it is one of the main reasons I go. I've not seen any trouble and have not found the staff rude. But perhaps I don't really notice these things. Every one seems fairly happy just to get on and dance / chat / drink. If you've had enough jumping around then sitting down and people-watching is always an option. There's a great variety of clothes / hair / piercings / other body adornments on offer. But you wouldn't be too out of place in a shirt and jeans.
Camden's Electric Ballroom, plays host to all manner of events throughout the week, and an indoor market on a Sunday, but for the purposes of this review the main event is Friday night's Full Tilt club night. Best summarized as 'The Devil's Ibiza' Full Tilt is a great mixed 'alternative' night - two dance floors, the smaller upstairs room playing punk and metal based sounds, the main downstairs focusing more on the dirty electro side of things - EBM, 'industrial', segueing into electro, dance, and generally ending up somewhere in the full on gabba corner. The sets are also incredibly boring - when I was going regularly it felt as though the main floor DJ's had 'will change only one track each week' written into their contracts! However for an occasional night out, it's generaly good fun. There's apparently a thid floor Drum and Bass room, but, in 4 or so years of irregular attndance, I've never remembered t look for it! The major attraction is less the music than the clientele - you might get a better set of <insert your favorite sub-genre off alternative music here> at a more specialist night, but I do enjoy the patchwork of people that show up - it's also a good place to go with a large group of mates if your music tastes don't completely gel, as there’s bound to be something for almost everyone. The dress code is allegedly 'Dark, Alternative, Industrial, Fetish, Goth' but I'd have to say that they clearly weren’t enforcing that last time I was there. Blue jeans and a T-shirt will get you in, but at least some do really pull the stops out – pretty much anything goes. The set up of the building encourages people watching, and I have no doubt there are some regulars who are there just to be seen. With a balcony running around two sides of the main dance floor, there’s plenty of space for your adoring audience, or just to chat to fri
ends while checking out the passing people. The back bar downstairs, and the side balcony are far enough away from the floors to allow for a reasonable conversation, but you'll still hear if they start playing your favorite track. Four bars (two up, two down) means you should never have to wait too long to be served, although beware, they shut the bars 45 mins or so before the end of the night, so you may want to stock up. The cloakroom's pretty reliable, although prepare to have all your stuff tipped out of your overnight bag by the bouncers before you can check it in. They're also obsessed with anything that might be used as a weapon, so if the door staff are feeling picky you may end up leaving your huge pointy finger rings at the door. The loos may start the evening respectably enough, but are pretty grim by the end of the night, and the bar choice is moderately limited and fairly expensive - not out of order for a central London venue, but no bargain either. They are pretty ungrudging about doling out tap water as well, which not all clubs do with good grace. Entry is £5 for 'members' and £7 for the general populus - last time I looked 'membership' was just a case of asking the door staff once you're inside for a form - basicaly an excuse not to flyer each week. Well worth doing if you plan on going more than once or twice in a year. It's never struck me as being a friendly club - the staff seems more interested in getting paying bodies through the door and avoiding fights, rather than creating a good environment for those who are already inside. Certainly on the odd occasion that things have gone wrong (stolen wallets, drink spiking, and that charming elderly gentlemen wanking in the corner) they're far from keen to step in. A far cry from some of the other alternative nights around the city. In fact this is the nasty seedy club your parents think the whole teenage rebellion thing is about. On the oth
er hand, there's no obvious pushing, and I've never seen a fight, so it's not *that* rough and ready. A fairly major plus side, at the end of the night, is that the hole in the wall burger place outside the main door does some of the best late-night veggie food I 've found (NB 'best' strictly in the context of street food at 3 am) at good prices - just what you need to fuel you're passage through the hordes of unlicensed 'minicab' hawkers on your way to the night bus. Transport is generaly good also, - tube, train to Eusit or Camden Town, and several bus and night bus routes. The building is currently under threat from London Underground’s plans to extend and modernize Camden station. I surprised myself when I realized I’d actually miss the place if it were gone – it’s been a part of Camden’s nightlife for a long time now, and the venue itself still has something to offer. The market’s pretty cool too. The night has been running forever, and they have released a series of compilations (Full Tilt 3 came out recently), so they're obviously doing something right, although it's not a personal favorite. Fun, but no real spirit to it. http://www.electricballroom.ndirect.co.uk/