Launch Night: Counter Culture

CcultureMax Raymond writes: Counter Culture is a pop-up venue, running for three months under the arches on the approach to London Bridge. As a club experience it's rather different to what the rest of the capital has to offer. Firstly, it's only going to be around for 99 days. Secondly, it's not in the east of London, where one might expect to find such a place.

The aim of the organisers is to take away some attention from areas like Shoreditch and Hoxton and to bring exciting 'counter culture' – there's also going to be cinema, comedy and art installations among other things – to south east London.

To discover whether they have a chance of competing against their more established rivals up east we ambled along to the launch night (Friday 24th September) to find out. A Human and Viva City were among the bands playing. Tonight wasn't solely about the music, though, if you were wondering, A Human's frontman wandered around the venue a lot, did a fair bit of thrusting and stole a couple of cupcakes. Viva City were a bit more restrained, hiding behind their instruments. Canapés, cupcakes and alcohol lubricated the mood nicely, but there was the small matter of exploring the new surroundings.

Entry to the venue is through a corridor replete with some excellent band photography from Harriet Armstrong. Once into the club proper there are two rooms: a spacious main area through an archway where bands will play, and a more intimate secondary room that plays host to DJ sets. Overall capacity is about 700 people, and both rooms were amply filled as the night progressed. The layout and atmosphere, beneath the Kent mailine, point to a cross between central London's Heaven and Shoreditch's Cargo.

Judging from tonight's attendees – a sea of trendy folk mixed with one or two eccentrically dressed sorts (the Alice In Wonderland/fantasy look was particularly popular) – this is a place that, in some form, would be a welcome addition beyond Counter Culture's 99-day tenure. It's in a great location and it's certainly got enough appeal to attract large crowds – persuading the local council to make the license permanent seems like a no brainer, given the lack of places like this in south London. Then it has every chance of rivalling the eastern monopoly.

Counter Culture runs till 1st January 2011 at 7-9 Crucifix Lane, London SE1 3JW

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