Inside The Cause, the crowdfunded London club giving back to the community
This new 400-capacity space in Tottenham boasts a killer bill, a unique sound system – and a positive message.
As its name might suggest, The Cause isn’t your everyday nightclub. Taking shape in an old car mechanic’s depot just down the road from Tottenham Hale station, North London, this 400-capacity venue boasts the sort of specifications to get a raver’s pulse racing – including no-frills industrial fittings, a custom-built Core sound-system, and a 5am license.
But there’s more to The Cause than what it does on and around the dance floor. The brainchild of Stuart Glen and Eugene Wild, two veteran music promoters with roots in London’s underground rave community, The Cause is a crowdfunded nightclub, with a DIY ethos and membership scheme that aims to raise money to channel back into local community projects. The pair aim to raise over £25,000 in The Cause’s first year of existence, with funds going to three mental health charities – Mind In Haringey, C.A.L.M and Help Musicians UK – as well as local community garden Grow Tottenham.
The venue opens officially on Friday April 13 with a free party headlined by an American house music legend who cannot be named. To attend, visit supportthecause.co.uk or find out more by visiting The Cause’s crowdfunding campaign here. Then scroll down to read an extensive interview with The Cause co-founder Stuart Glen.
We want to create a model where we can prove to councils and developers that we can give back to the local community via the power of dance music
Hi Stuart. So what's the background of the team behind The Cause, and when did you hit on the idea of crowdfunding a club?
I've been putting on events for the best part of two decades. It all started in a sweaty Liverpool basement called The Magnet. We had the likes of Paul Woolford, Greg Wilson and Mr Scruff play, quickly followed by notorious boat parties working with the venue’s owner Eddie O'Callaghan, the legend responsible for The Garden Festival and the boom in Croatia's festival scene. Since then, I've set up a variety of events with artists ranging from house music legends such as Derrick Carter and DJ Pierre, to dubstep pioneers Benga and Caspa, drum 'n' bass dons Valve Soundsystem, through to more commercial acts such as Tinie Tempah, Hadouken and The Wombats.
Over the last few years, I slipped off the radar and focused on pushing the party boundaries in terms of location and space. I host one of London's hottest invite-only, truly underground parties where location and line-ups are always closely guarded until the day. We've had shows in forests, under railway bridges, secret tunnels, outdoor courtyards, car parks and rare warehouse spaces across the capital.
From this scene, I met Eugene who threw parties with a similar ethos. He had a strong following from the Manor House warehouse community. We buzzed off each others ideas and when the opportunity came up to take over an ex-car mechanic's space, we couldn't resist but build a permanent home for the underground scene.
From the ground up, absolute DIY ethos has been applied with no corporate investment as we want to retain 100% control over the design of the space, the sound system and the parties we host. From our network we have and our decision to give back to the local community, we are challenging London nightlife and believe a Crowdfunder is the best way to not only gain finance but also gain buy-in and loyalty. We want to be the club that the people helped build!
Conversations around regeneration and gentrification have been a constant around the subject of London nightlife in the last decade or so – what lessons have you learned from what you've seen elsewhere, and what have you learned about resiliency in a challenging commercial landscape?
Unfortunately we've got to deal with cards we've been dealt. The cost of land, business rates and running any brick and mortar business is currently very difficult. Add to this increasing red tape and council pressures on venues and it's really, really tricky to stack up. I think the key is now to be transient, to keep your eyes on the prize for the next move. Legendary clubs don't seem to last now in the UK, you have to keep the party moving!
We've acknowledged this and have found a temporary space, working with the necessary evil as some may say. We've got about 18 months in our current lease as the building is up for redevelopment. There's a chance it will stay longer and that's our gamble, but we want to create a model where we can prove to councils and developers that we can give back to the local community via the power of dance music.
That's why we are running a membership scheme – firstly to create a scene and hold the data so we can quickly move to another site once this goes. Secondly, so we can raise funds for mental health charities as it's a big part of Haringey council's framework, yet also has major links with the dance music community. It made sense for us to show the authorities the positive side of granting us the latest licence in the borough for our type of operation. It will also give us a really good case to work with for future empty buildings in interim periods and carry on beyond our first home.
We wanted to give Core the opportunity to do their first ever full club install and show the world what they have.
Can you say a little about the soundsystem – what's it made up of, and how has it been tailored to the space?
Core are a small independent business, with their foot firmly in the East London underground scene. For those in the know, there is a notorious party boat in London that hosts wild parties across the weekend and is still going strong on a Tuesday morning. The sound on it was designed by Core and it is incredible. Many top DJs play here and say it's one of the best they've heard.
I've used their system for my parties before and it's crisp, warm and you can hear every detail of the track on it. The feedback from anyone that's heard it has been amazing. We wanted to give them the opportunity to do their first ever full club install and show the world what they have.
They've been working hard over the last three months on designing the system, specifically to fit the space. We've got the DJ booth in the middle of the dance floor so it's really important that the sound is distributed all around it, so no matter if you're behind the booth, to the left or in front, it will sound amazing.
While their bespoke system for our space isn't built yet, we are throwing a party this Friday April 13 with their current system in as a taste of what you can expect. Come down and have a listen for yourself! Entry is free before 11pm for anyone that signs up to www.supportthecause.co.uk and we have a Chicago house music legend joining us for a surprise set.
What are your aims in the first year – and how can people get involved?
Firstly, we want to create London's best small venue. The space is incredible, the entrance feels quite Berlin-like with lots of reclaimed wood and the inside is very industrial. The room's laid out well so it will get a vibe early doors or it's at peak capacity. This is mainly due to the position of the DJ booth, slap bang in the middle of the dance floor. A few weekends ago we had a friends and family party with Johnny Aux from Paranoid London, Subb-An and Adam Shelton all play, and they were all blown away by the vibe it creates.
Secondly we are aiming to raise £25k for our partner charities, Mind In Haringey and C.A.L.M, dedicated to preventing male suicide. We will do this by our membership scheme which will kick back 40% of its proceeds. Members benefits include access to a members-only room with an extensive selection of craft beers and speciality drinks, a free seasonal cocktail every month, members-only drinks offers, monthly mixes and first alerts of tickets being on sale, 100% members only parties and reduced entry to in-house events.
On top of this, we will also hold events where 100% of door profits, after artist expenses, go towards our partner charities. We want to bring in big DJs and artists to play intimate shows as a sign of support and to raise awareness for our mental health charities. There's been documentaries featuring Carl Cox, Seth Troxler and Luciano and many artists such as Sasha, Ben Pearce, Scuba and Midland have openly discussed their issues of depression or anxiety in key press. We will be approaching these artists and many more.
Thirdly, we support independent business. The Cause also underpins the financial backbone of a large project Down Lane Studios across the rest of the warehouse site. This will bring many start-ups, local business, artists and creatives to Tottenham. Plans for the site include an outdoor courtyard and bar, street food, tattooists, barbers, community garden and a second 200 capacity event space, which allows us to operate two room events for up to 600 people. The project is super exciting and we cannot wait to show everyone what we have this summer!
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