Fabric: Solo Clubbing in London and Finding Drum & Bass Heaven

My rating of clubbing at Fabric, on their Friday night Bass event FABRICLIVE: 8/10 for its amazing ambiance and killer music.

At the end of January, I took advantage of the fact that flights from Barcelona to London were cheap (70 euros round trip, and even as low as 40 euros if you book far enough in advance) for a weekend trip to London before starting my internship. I deliberately made sure my trip coincided with Shiba San at the Ministry of Sound on that Saturday. Even though I didn’t know people on the lineup, I was not going to miss out on the chance to go to the other famous electronic dance music club in London, Fabric!

Fabric was ranked number 4 on DJ mag in 2014 and I needed to find out why.

I was very excited when I found out that Friday nights at Fabric are of the legendary FABRICLIVE events – a renowned night dedicated to drum and bass (and other bass-heavy music) going from 11PM to 5:30AM, 7:00AM, or 8AM (that Friday night it was till 7AM).

Did not know any DJs on the poster but it does not matter!
Did not know any DJs on the poster but it did not matter!

Here’s a mix of the group I really like, Jack Beats, for you to enjoy as you read this post 😉 They made this mix for a FABRICLIVE CD compilation.

Thinking back, it had been more than a year since I last listened to drum and bass at any event – the last time being, I believe, in TomorrowWorld Atlanta in 2013. All I have been able to listen to in Barcelona has been techno and commercial house — if anyone knows of any clubs that play other kinds of EDM, please enlighten me. I am dying for some bass-y music!!

A minor setback was that none of the folks I knew in London wanted to go. This did not concern me much since I knew that most people are not into drum and bass, and I rather go alone than go with people that weren’t going to have fun. I was in a new city and eager to explore (especially since my flight was delayed 3 hours and I got there at night!). With a gin tonic in me I hopped onto the London night towards an adventure at Fabric a little after midnight (in case you didn’t know, London is big and expensive, so with a student budget I couldn’t afford to get on a taxi!).

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En route to Fabric.. Right after I got off the bus stop and walked for 10 minutes to Fabric
En route to Fabric.. Right after I got off the bus stop and walked for 10 minutes to Fabric

Fabric is located in an industrial district; it used to be a meat factory and I suppose the whole district is similar to NYC’s meatpacking district as it is a warehouse area. Neighboring clubs and bars have a similar vibe to meatpacking. I was proud of myself for having made it to Fabric – I had to make a change of two buses with a trip time of around 50 minutes, without internet access!

Getting closer to Fabric.. 5 minutes to go
Getting closer to Fabric.. 5 minutes to go

I don’t know if it was a false sense of security, but being in an English speaking environment again made me feel super comfortable. Plus, everyone in London was so friendly!! Okay, only guys struck up conversations with me, but they were all polite and “gentlemanlike”. The novelty of being exposed to the British accent definitely made things interesting for me.

I made it!!!
I made it!!!

I entered the club and the ticket guy said, “twenty pounds.”

“I’m a student,” I said, showing my ID.

“Discount pricing of 14 pounds is for UK students only” he says.

Dammit, they should really put that information on the website. I surrendered twenty pounds (30 bucks x__x) and checked my coat for 2 pounds. My money woes don’t end here – I got a red bull vodka for 7 pounds (10 bucks). Which is fine for a RB vodka I suppose, if they didn’t meticulously measure out exactly one shot of vodka and put it in a tall glass, where the alcohol reached only about one fifteenth of the cup, even with all the ice in it. An American guy next to me in the bar tried to ask for more alcohol, only to receive the response of “if you want a double shot it’s 10 pounds.” Hah, dammit, that sucks, especially when in Spain they fill your drinks up to a 70-30 alcohol-soda ratio. OK, I decided that I wasn’t going to buy any more drinks. Fortunately, my complaints about the night ends here.

Fabric was – simply put – WOW! The club is an underground labyrinth of music with three stages. However, it wasn’t so much the layout or the rooms, but the ubiquitous sound system pumping serious bass, and the amazing ambience!! I very very very rarely see people so into the music. Walking around the crowd, you can see the drum and bass culture is ingrained into a whole generation of British youth – in fact a guy at the club told me he’s been going to Fabric for drum and bass nights for 15 years, since he was a teenager. People were dancing and genuinely having a good time without concern of how they looked. It was the pure, raw energy that I have only felt in drum and bass or hardstyle events, few times in my life – off the top of my head, Q-Dance in Santiago, Black Party in Taiwan, Rusko at TomorrowWorld. As soon as I descended the stairs into Fabric, I was enthralled.

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Drum and Bass has been pumping in London for decades
Drum and Bass has been pumping in London for decades

Going down the stairs entering the club, you find yourself on the balcony, where you can look down to the main stage and soak in the atmosphere in club. At the beginning of the night, the DJ booth was on the stage, but later in the night, the DJ booth moved across the room and people danced on the stage.

Descending another level of stairs, you arrive at the main room on the right. The main room really was not very big and was super crowded around the entrance, but if you walk around a bit you could find some space on the other side of the room.

Art on the wall of Fabric - I assume it's a 3D map of the club
Art on the wall of Fabric – I assume it’s a 3D map of the club

If instead of turning right at the base of the stairs, you turn left, you’d find a tunnel with a bunch of sofas leading into another room that is narrow width-wise, with brick walls and a real factory feel. Here I met the group of guys that have been coming to Fabric for 15 years. I ended up chatting a lot with one of the guys as he got me drinks (wow I’m in a country where men buy women drinks again! Woohoo!!!) and we chilled in the smoking area (on the ground floor – takes getting lost a couple times to find it).

Half way through the night, my new club buddies asked, “Where are your friends?” When I told him I came here alone they reacted incredulously “I’ve never met a girl that goes clubbing alone”.. Haha, the sacrifices I make for music. I was so thankful and so glad I went, I would have regretted it sooo much if I hadn’t! The drum and bass open, inclusive, and “don’t give a f-ck” atmosphere made it easy to be on my own. I doubt I would have had a good time by myself if it were a techno event, where no one talks to anybody…

Smoking area of Fabric. An interior enclosing surrounded by apartments. How do the neighbors sleep?
Smoking area of Fabric. An interior enclosing surrounded by apartments. How do the neighbors sleep?

It was an especially awesome musical experience, because while the DJ spun DnB tracks, black British rappers were beatboxing and rapping to the music. I usually don’t enjoy MCs or voice overs, but the rapping synced perfectly with the beats. The rapper walked among the crowds, and everyone definitely felt the high of the music, spontaneously forming dance circles everywhere!!

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An interesting note for me was that there were no Asians there, even though there is a fair number of Asian-British folks in the UK. By Asian I mean East Asian. There were plenty of Indians there, as in all parts of London!

I left the club at 5:30am, feeling very hyper and satisfied with my Tendelle x Tendelle first night out in town. I was all smiles on the way back on the metro for the musical experience that I had just lived! It definitely quenched my bass-thirst and I hadn’t danced so much in a long time. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime alternative dance music experience on your visit to London, FABRICLIVE is an event that I wouldn’t miss.

6 Replies to “Fabric: Solo Clubbing in London and Finding Drum & Bass Heaven”

  1. […] atmospheres I have ever experienced. I had been to a pure drum and bass event before (read about my solo clubbing DnB experience in Fabric). When I asked people there if drum and bass was popular, they said yes, since 20 years ago they […]

  2. […] their parties are in the infamous Fabrik. With a similar name to the other infamous club in London, Fabric, Fabrik (also known as Goa) is Madrid’s premier nightlife space. Voted to have rank 22 among […]

  3. […] bought tickets thinking that I’d have to go alone, like I did in Fabric, but surprisingly my friend who I was staying with, Gilmar, said he’d come. And then an […]

  4. […] Do you love Drum & Bass? I never miss an event, either, especially when I travel! The best D&B club I’ve ever been to was Fabric in London, on their Friday night FABRICLIVE events. Check out my adventure! […]

  5. […] recounted in my blog my first ever solo clubbing night out to Fabric. I had so many guys “hit on me” on my way to the club on the bus, inside the […]

  6. […] on all those trips was because there were EDM events I wanted to go to in those cities – London, Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Ibiza, and Eindhoven. Some of those cities I probably would […]

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