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Beyond
@ The Colosseum
Nine Elms Lane/Wandsworth Road
Vauxhall
London SW8
4:30am - noon
£15 on door; £10 members;
Annual membership £50.

Capacity 1,700

Website
Size matters

Beyond is a phenomenon on the London gay scene, and it wasn't until I went there in June 2003 that I fully understood why Trade had closed as a weekly event.

From my earliest experiences with gay clubs in London I had always been surprised at how small they were. We're going back to the 1960s in terms of my recall, clubs like the A&B which were still vestiges of the previous era of gay repression and self-suppression, or the new brash clubs like the Sombrero. They were usually in basements and often tiny. Heaven redefined gay clubbing when it opened... at last a proper sized club for gays... yippee! This trend was followed elsewhere in the country with some much larger venues being created to cater for the gay scene, (I think here of La Chic in Nottingham).

Trade and Turnmills were both innovators in their time, Turnmills had the first 24 hours entertainments license in the U.K. and though a basement club it expanded to offer quite a large capacity venue, and Trade was the first after-hours (Sunday morning) club catering to the gay market. Forgive the pun, as many of their customers came from there but, this was a match made in heaven, and it continued very successfully for longer than average. Perhaps too long?

Trade had been experiencing some problems (see the Trade page for info), including a forced relocation for a short time, and changes in drugs policy at Turnmills when they returned there. Customers' habits of going there were disrupted, and some were probably getting tired of the same old thing, though customer loyalty to Trade was still strong. Some new gay clubs had opened on Saturday nights, most notably Crash, and the location of gay clubbing on Saturdays, and hence prior to Trade, was shifting South to Vauxhall. The scene was therefore set for the emergence of a giant-killer: Beyond.

The success of Beyond is built on three factors, (leaving aside the basics which most clubs try to get right and which are requirements, but don't differentiate one club from another).

These factors are size, location and music, in that order.

For a gay club, or indeed any club which identifies itself and its' customers on the basis of their sexuality, numbers matter. The gay scene has always suffered from a fundamental statistical problem: there's a lot less gay people than straight. If you want to pick up or socialise with like-minded souls, more is better. More people means more choice, (it also means more competition of course). If you want to satisfy your specialist interests either musically or sexually you can go to one of a number of Saturday night clubs in London, and if you're still up for it afterwards you can gather at Beyond with literally thousands of others.

The club is located in Vauxhall, just a few minutes from popular Saturday night gay clubs like Crash and Action. Why drive or cab it to Clerkenwell in the middle of the night, when you can so easily get to a bigger club with more people nearby?

Musically, there has clearly been a shift in the preferences of the gay scene. Beyond offers three rooms of music, with musical luminaries like Malcolm Duffy, The Sharp Boys and
Main dancefloor about 8am.
Main dancefloor about 8am.
Steve Pitron playing tribal house in the main room, a smaller room playing deep house, and a third room with DJs like Dave Cross playing hard dance.

Of the three, at least on the night I went, the third room was the emptiest. Now this crowd is the SAME crowd that went to Trade, where the emphasis was on a build up from tribal house to hard dance music. Yet these clubbers have the choice to dance in a hard dance room or dance in a tribal house room. They clearly were choosing the latter, as shown in the pics above.

As for the venue, well the Colosseum reminded me most of The Corporation in Sheffield, where its straight after hours counterpart, Insomniacz, is held and which is designed in the same leisure corporation dance club mould. You go UPstairs, and the club is on one floor. Daylight through the windows, (windows?), is blocked with blackout curtains. The sound and light systems are fine (not the electrifying effects of Turnmlls but that doesn't seem to matter) and the staff seemed unremarkable.

So Beyond's entry to the after-hours gay market was well-timed, when the main after-hours club was having problems and offered greater convenience, a newer sound, (also probably easier to dance to for K users, ketamine having become increasingly popular), and, most importantly, more men.

It is perhaps interesting to note that Trade promoter, Lawrence Malice's new club Egg, which is much smaller than The Colosseum and Turnmills, has not targeted the gay market. Trade remains at Turnmills for occasional events, and most of the events at Egg are run by promoters targeting the straight/mixed dance music market.
 
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