Dance Tunnel Talk – A Year On

Art & Culture

Last week it was all about the record players that have made Dalston basement Dance Tunnel so special over the past year. This week it’s all about what that lot who created said smoke filled cave. As they prepare to celebrate 1 year this weekend we caught up with Dan Beaumont, Matt Tucker and Matt Wickings to talk dark rooms and big smoke machines… very big smoke machines!

R$N: So, best small venue then in less than year thats exciting isnt it?

Dan Beaumont: Its really nice I dont think well win but

R$N: Thats a bit humble of you Id be surprised if you didnt win it.

Matt Tucker: I think its great to be acknowledged.

Matt Wickings: If we win we get loads of cash to put on a party right?

Dan: Shall we just book me and Matt all night! 

So Matt / Dan, how did you two meet?

Dan: We met at Trailer Trash, the club Matt ran. I ran a bar round the corner and we used spend a lot of time talking about what a perfect venue would be like.

Matt T: I think from my side there was a general frustration of having a really good night, in a really shit venue Lets not even go there. And Dan was doing Bloodbath, and yeah we just used to chat a lot about how we felt we could do it better.

Dan: Well, we were always getting frustrated with shady venue owners so we thought wed become the shady venue owners instead! <laughs>

Matt T: Yeah, basically! And I think various late nights propping up the bar talking about what wed like to try and do

W: When Dan used to drink!

Matt T: Yeah, when Dan used to drink!

Dan: <laughs>

Matt T: And we had an opportunity that came up, up here.

Dan: We were looking at venues and spaces for well over 2 years, I think.

Matt T: You have to remember we didnt have backing, we didnt have any  investors or rich shareholders it was just “how much money can we cobble together”.

Dan: Maxing out credit cards and overdrafts and whatever we could get.

Matt T: Initially we were like, Is Dalston a bit too far out, are people going to travel here Obviously that all changed pretty rapidly. And that was Superstore. Then the next progressive step for us was doing this.

R$N: So why somewhere three doors down from Superstore?

Dan: Well, if we didnt someone else wouldve!

Matt: I think it just came up, and its a great space.

Dan: We had an idea that we wanted to pursue; we had an opportunity and this seemed like the perfect place to try it out.

R$N: So was that always the idea. Do a pizza joint with a basement?

Matt T: Not necessarily, no. The idea was to have the pizza place first. That was the driving force. 

Dan: But were genetically predisposed to not be able to not have a basement club.

Matt T: If we had an art gallery thered be a basement club in it. 

Dan: We just didnt think there was anything better we could do down there than turn it into a club.

Matt T: Well, the original plan was well just leave downstairs how it was, which was well it was just a shitty basement, and do just upstairs. And instead we ended up spending ridiculous amounts of money turning it into what it is. Which does make more sense but not to our bank balance! But definitely to the place as a whole.

R$N: And then you got Matt Wickings involved, how did that come about?

Matt W: Well I applied to work on the bar at the Superstore and then got called in to work at this new place down the road it was all just an accident really.

Matt T: There are still some bar shifts going at the Superstore! 

<Everyone laughs>

Matt W: I excelled at Superstore, I didnt want to leave. But yeah it was completely by accident, Id only been in London for about a month.

W: Cos youre from Nottingham right?

Matt W: Yeah, I was living in Nottingham running Stealth. Well, not running Stealth but an integral cog at Stealth. And yeah, I moved down here in September and started working with Dan and Matt in October.

Dan: Pretty early on Matt got involved with the programming and booking.

Matt W: Everyones attention was on up here (Voodoo Rays), so for some reason I was just left alone to run and program this new club. 

Matt T: We sort of just threw you in at the deep end really

Matt W: I was pretty much left to my own devices for a while. I dont think anyone really knew exactly what I was getting up to. It’s gone quite well though 

Dan: I think we sort of just told you not to book anyone shit!  And every now and then wed make a face at someone youd mentioned.

R$N: And Matt are you involved with that too?

Matt T: Ive been less involved with the actual booking of it, more about making it work. Making the toilets flush and all the important stuff like that!

R$N: Well that is the important stuff! 

Matt T: Yeah it is. But Matts coming from a similar musical perspective to us. 

R$N: And do you do more of the Superstore stuff?

Matt T: Yeah Im more involved with Superstore’s music, but Ive basically somehow ended up as a bit of an odd job man! I dont quite know how that happened! 

Matt W: Caretaker! 

Matt T: Right! 

Dan: So Matt Wickings takes DJs out for dinner and Matt Tucker fixes the toilets!

Matt T: What happened there?!

Matt T: I dont really know! Thats all going to change next year, Im taking the power back! 

R$N: Cos youve got Trailer Trash down here the start of next month havent you?

Matt T: Yeah weve got Steffi down for that. Its the only TT weve done this year and itll be really nice to do it in the basement. 

R$N: It started at On The Rocks didnt it?

Matt T: Yeah it did so its nice to go back to similar size and feel. Dark and dingy.

R$N: But with better toilets

Matt T: Definitely better toilets and definitely a better sound system.

R$N: So, highlights of this yeah then?

Matt T: Im not saying this to brown-nose, but actually I fucking loved your party with the fox.

Dan: Yeah that was good.

R$N: Dan didnt come!

Dan: I didn’t come! 

Matt T: It was brilliant. The vibe was brilliant. Space Dimension Controller was wicked.

Dan: To be honest, its just really fun to be able to book artists that were interested in and wouldnt normally play in a space this size and giving them the opportunity to do this. People like Genius Of Time, ItaloJohnson, Big Strick

Matt T: Just a more intimate club environment a proper raw underground vibe. Sort of no thrills…

Dan: No thrills or no frills?! 

Matt T: What did I mean?

Matt W: Frills.

Matt T: Cheap thrills, no frills!

Matt W: I think that everyone likes that it all works. The booths really big, the sounds really good, the ceilings really low.

Dan: And we only let nice people in.

R$N: Its just not letting dickheads in basically?

Matt T: And weve got a big smoke machine!

Matt W: The biggest.

Dan: But also to give people like Tim Sweeney and Tama Sumo to be able to give them the show they deserve in London. And itll be a lot of our friends down there.

Matt W: It’s usually just filled with all our friends…

R$N: Youve had some great reactions from people whove come down and played here. 

Dan: I think what we didnt expect is for our reputation to spread so quickly among the people we really admire. And its really nice when someone from Detroit turns up and they say theyve heard really nice things about the place and they really want to play here.

Matt T: And I mean the Ostgut guys that weve had here, theyve always smashed it.

Dan: Having Nick Hppner down to play for the full five hours was amazing. Were only open for five hours, and lets face it the average set time in Berlin is about that but yeah that was great and a real privilege.

R$N: Have you pissed off Plastic People?

Matt T: I think theres room enough for more than one small club in London. 

Dan: I think Plastic People is stronger than ever. Like London in general. If you look at whats going on in London at the moment, theres really great stuff on every weekend. I think people are thirsty for interesting music which I think benefits everyone.

Matt T: And not necessarily in a big club environment where you have to spend 25 quid to just get through the door y’know. To see bigger artists in a smaller club too is important, I think.

R$N: And I think people were getting sick of being in a shit warehouse with terrible sound and crap toilets.

Dan: Well warehouse parties stopped being underground quite a long time ago. You cant really call it that when youre paying 25 quid to get in and the headliner costs 10 grand that doesnt really sound underground to me. I think people are looking for different environments now. 

Matt T: And I think there have been too many substandard warehouse parties where the sounds shit, the toilets are awful actually probably most of the ones we put on were like that!

Dan: Do you remember the one where the urinal was just a big bin?!

Matt T: I just shot myself in the foot there didnt I?!

Dan: But at least that was fun.

R$N: So, 2014! 

Matt W: Weve got a few nice collaborations with labels, and the in-house stuff, which is fun. And continuing the relationships we have with the regulars nights; Thunder, Mono_cult, zleep, Way Back Here

Matt T: NYE is looking good.

Matt W: Yeah weve got Funkineven, Way Back Here, Capracara, Semtek solid London line-up!

R$N: And do you really have residents?

Dan: Well whenever we throw our own parties we always use one of the residents from our other regular nights. People like Nick Warren from Waxd, Miles from Thunder, Cobby from Zleep. ?

Matt W: Ive tried to tie down our first proper resident as well this week in Arnaldo, and apart from that Dan plays not that often. 

R$N: Is it just a Dan vanity project? 

Dan: I wish it was! I wish I booked myself more. But also weve got a lot of the people who played this year coming back next year. And thats really important. You need to give the room a go more than once. Thats something were keen to pursue.

R$N: And the sounds got better.

Matt T: Yeah, I mean were constantly trying to improve the room in terms of sound and also in terms of the aesthetic of it. Its always going to be work in progress.

R$N: And then the birthday 

Dan: So weve just got ItaloJohnson back. Were big fans of their records and they were one of the first people we actually booked and theyre just brilliant DJs basically. Were very pleased to have ’em back for the birthday.

R$N: And thats that.

Dan: And thats that. 

R$N: See you on the weekend!

Dance Tunnel turns 1 this Saturday 30th November with ItaloJohnson from 10pm – 3am. Full details here.

Want to win tickets?? Enter a lovely lil’ competition here.

Viva Dance Tunnel… See you in the smoke… x