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Fire (Currently Closed)
@ Fire
Vauxhall
London

10pm - 5am - followed by Twist from 5am to late.

What was The Viaduct...
completely transformed,
but a neat venue does not
itself a club make.

Launch flyer.



Fire lies in between Crash and Beyond
See Beyond page for map
Pics from the launch night
Kenny's Birthday June 28th. '03
Kenny is a legendary figure from Trade... a true old school clubber who has been extremely kind to many people. He was the only person allowed on the platform overlooking the dancefloor at Trade at Turnmills as he danced his devil's dance with orange glowsticks.

He delighted his friends and fans by appearing at Fire for his birthday, and it was wonderful to see him there hale and hearty.
Is that gun in your pocket... oh no... I see it's not!
Globands were given away by kenny Lorraine... don't mess wiv me!!
Paul & David
Fire is the newly transformed Viaduct, in Vauxhall, London. Located under railway arches, (see map), it was a run down, rank and dank hole. It has now been completely refurbished, with an up to date sound system, new lighting including lasers, a new dancefloor, new DJ booth, refurbished second room, and some rather stylish steel loos.

Add to that the residency of legendary DJ superstar Pete Wardman, and you have the makings of a top-notch club.
DJ Pete Wardman on  fire at Fire!
It has a capacity of around 700, which means it actually feels like a club, rather than an auditorium. The people who run it, say that it's a club designed by clubbers, and it feels that way.

Launch night was in April 2003, supported by local London gay magazine advertising and the give-away of tens of thousands of free CDs which brought in a somewhat varied crowd of over 600 very friendly and up for it people.

The Saturday night event, "Fire", which runs to 5am is followed by the hard dance event Twist, from 5am to mid-day.

I know how much work has gone into this club as I saw what it looked like beforehand so I wish these guys every success. However, they have an uphill task as they have taken on themselves the job of creating and running a club, booking the djs and doing all the promotion in-house, rather than using outside promoters. They face a highly competitive market and are having to learn as they go along. This can be an expensive way to gain experience.

Update
Indications that things were not going well for them came from the fact that months after the club opened they still didn't have their website up and running, numbers were disappointing, and word-of-mouth was good but not ecstatic .

Furthermore, Pete Wardman was initially placed alongside residents of dubious competency - certainly one at least should not have been playing professionally.

About six weeks after the club opened it was rumoured that BK and Frantic had bought out one of the partners and had obtained a sizeable stake in the venue and this could have had a beneficial effect all round. However, this option was not followed through, and in fact Craig from agy afterhours club Beyond invested instead. More on this on the Twist page

"Fire" was the club's gay Saturday night, but suffered from stiff competition from more popular and well-established gay Saturday night events like Crash, which is held nearby. It offered the excellent Pete Wardman, in a pleasant enough venue, but the promotion may not have been strong enough, the target market's preferences may have been different from waht has been offered, and for a gay crowd in 2003, perhaps this wasn't enough. By the end of July 2003, Pete Wardman was sacked and the club effectively closed on Saturday nights. The owners were then focussing on promoting Twist and the venue as an afterparty.

The transformation of The Viaduct to Fire was a necessary step to compete, but it clearly was not enough on its own. When you ask exactly what was on offer here over and above a neat venue with Peter Wardman in it, the answer's got to be not much. Even the prices were on a par with other more established clubs.

One of the benefits of planning and forecasting is to challenge one's expectations, and think through what to do if they are not met. Every new venture whether it be a club night or a venue should do this and Fire perhaps had over optimistic expectations about how quickly they could get their club up and running successfully. Clubbers' opinions are formed rapidly, often on the basis of one visit, and spread even faster. People need to be made aware of the existence of a club, but if they are, and have little incentive to change their clubbing habits, a decision not to bother going somewhere is very easily made. Given this, promoters have to be able to respond VERY quickly.

Fire's self-description of a club built by clubbers for clubbers is true. The guys behind it have a strong sense of what they want their club to be, what music it should play, (hard), and who they want to come to it.... regardless of what those people themselves want. Yet again we have echoes of "If you build it they will come", (see review of ff:Reloaded). You built it guys; they didn't come.

Part of the confusion here I believe has been about whether it's a dance club or whether it's a gay club. I'm sure some people are thinking: "but it can be both", but I wonder whether that's true. We're not talking absolutes here; rather relative emphasis. There are clubs built around sexuality, where what's important for the customer is having the opportunity to find someone of a complimentary orientation. If you're "on the pull" going to a place where you'll find people who you like and like you really does help your chances!

On the other hand not everyone is on the pull all the time. People then want to go out for other reasons - e.g. for music and fun. Under those circumstances, you might be a "gay" man (or a "straight" one for that matter), but for your decision as to where to go clubbing then your sexuality is of little significance. Fire has been created around a music policy, yet targeted towards a market concerned about pulling. I say this not because all gay men are always pulling, but because if a club is defined as a "gay club" it is signalling that the most important defining element is its provision of other like-orientated people for socialising/pulling, RATHER THAN being a dance club, where the emphasis is on the style of music, having fun and being tolerant.

The problem has been compounded by the fact that the gay scene has moved on from the music which Fire offers. The inspiration behind the club was the Trade sound, and the closure of Trade (as a weekly) was seen as an opportunity to keep that party going. It should perhaps have been seen instead as a warning.

Returning to whether it can be both a gay club and a hard dance club, well yes, it can "be" that, but in saying that one is saying that today one wants to appeal to a minority within a minority, (i.e. hard dance devotees who are also gay). The question then is whether there are enough of them to fill a club every week. Associatedly, there's a more fundamental question: If you're a venue owner, running a business, why be so specialised?

However currently the owners have taken an astounding decision to close the club for the moment and on Saturday nights it is usually closed, except when the owners decide to open it for special events. Frankly this seems crazy, as the one night of the week in the U.K. which any club should be able to make money on is Saturday night. This seems like an excellent way to throw money down the drain, as the promotion of the club, whenever that begins again, will have to start from scratch.

 
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