For those familiar with the bustling city of London, stepping into the massive structure that houses Drumsheds might trigger a wave of nostalgia. Formerly the home of Ikea’s UK flagship store, this 608,000 sq ft warehouse in Tottenham has undergone a remarkable transformation. The familiar aisles of furniture and showrooms have given way to panoramic screens, high-quality sound systems, and immersive light displays across three rooms designed to cater to various dance music genres.
The main clubbing space, now situated in the former Ikea flat pack warehouse, retains echoes of its past life. Once filled with household essentials, the main entrance hall now serves as the gateway to a pulsating world of music and lights. Visitors find it challenging to erase memories of their past Ikea adventures as they traverse through spaces that once housed kitchen essentials and cozy bedding.
The club’s transformation is a testament to the adaptability of spaces, and it’s not lost on the patrons. A woman in the crowd marvels at the conversion of the old café into a massive bar, swapping meatballs and hot dogs for craft beers and cocktails. On this particular night, Spanish electronic dance company Elrow has given the venue a spooky makeover for a Halloween-themed event.
However, as with any new venture, Drumsheds faces its share of challenges. Implementing a one-way system designed to facilitate the flow of people between rooms is met with mixed reviews. Some describe it as “very annoying” and “pretty confusing,” highlighting the importance of seamless logistics in large-scale events.
Moreover, the absence of covered areas outside becomes apparent on a rainy day, leaving attendees like Harry with soggy chips. This oversight raises questions about the venue’s preparedness for adverse weather conditions, especially given its operation of day parties and closure during the summer months to avoid competing with the festival season.
Despite these initial hiccups, Drumsheds aims to fill a void in London’s nightlife. The decline in the number of venues serving alcohol over the past 15 years, coupled with the recent closure of popular spots like Printworks, underscores the challenges faced by the industry. Drumsheds, with their ample dancefloor space, address the post-pandemic preference for more open and comfortable settings.
However, the club’s future remains to be determined, as it operates with temporary planning permission. Like Printworks, Drumsheds could face redevelopment into housing or office spaces in the coming years. Simeon Aldred, co-founder of operator Broadwick Live, emphasizes the threat to nighttime spaces in urban areas, citing challenges in licensing and planning as contributing factors.
The economic fallout from the pandemic poses additional challenges for hospitality businesses. Rising business rates and the end of government relief schemes could lead to more closures. Broadwick Live’s operating costs across its 26 UK venues have surged, straining the company’s ability to navigate the current landscape.
Despite the hurdles, Drumsheds has found support from Amy Lamé, the night czar to the mayor of London since 2016. Lamé sees the club as a positive force for the city, contributing to its economic and social recovery. She emphasizes the need to repurpose spaces for communal enjoyment, and pledges continued support for the nightlife industry.
As Drumsheds strives to establish itself as a nighttime destination, it serves as a haven for those seeking an escape to the dancefloor rather than the aisles of a Swedish superstore. Whether it becomes a permanent fixture in London’s nightlife or a reprieve, Drumsheds exemplifies the resilience and adaptability of the city’s entertainment scene.