Chances are if you are from South East London, or just happen to be a young person living in South East London, you have either been invited to, or have actually set foot in the hallowed nightclub. Though referred to universally as just ‘Venue’, the nightclub is, in more scientific circles, known as The Venue, and even more colloquially as a shouted 'Venners', or the more global 'Vennerzuela'. Here's a brief account of The Venue's intriguing history, including some surprising facts that will make you think twice next time you pass by this historic venue.
With its remarkably anti-climactic view of the London Docklands from the smoking area – just imagine how remarkable that view will have been before the Canary Wharf development – and its hefty post-midnight entry price of £12, The Venue is a very particular club. Whether you fancy listening to the best of Radio X up in the Star Bar, or listening to the best of Kiss down in the basement, The Venue really has something, and yet nothing, for everyone. It has staying power though, and the building emblazoned with a pink neon ‘VENUE' has been a place of entertainment since 1925. Just think about that for a second, if your grandparents are local, chances are that they will have also been to one of The Venue's previous incarnations too.
Opened as the New Cross Super Kinema in 1925, it had a cinema on the ground floor and the romantically named New Cross Palais de Dance above that. Why that name has not been used since is beyond us. However, as time passed it seems the owners of the Super Kinema became concerned that they were overselling their kinema and renamed it as simply the New Cross Kinema in 1927. Confidence returned afresh after the war and it staked its claim as the premier kinema in all of London by naming itself ‘Kinema’ in 1948, but soon doubt set in once more and the name changed completely to Gaumont in 1950,
Shockingly, it closed for a period after 1960 and much of the building was demolished – that’s right, Venue was actually even bigger at one point. The building as it is now became the Harp Club, and finally The Venue in 1989. It has remained that way since. Now, some of you may have heard that The Venue used to play host to actual bands, not the tribute bands it does today. Remarkably, it actually did. Not just actual bands though, actual big bands.. Or bands that were about to break it big at least. In 1994 alone, Oasis and Radiohead both played The Venue. Don’t believe us? In Trevor Barker’s biography of Thom Yorke ‘Thom Yorke – Radiohead & Trading Solo’ he quotes the drummer of the band The Frank and Walters as stating that they picked Radiohead to support them on an upcoming tour after seeing them ‘at The Venue in New Cross’. And Oasis? Well, just look at this. Not to mention Shed Seven supporting! They've been on Top of The Pops, have you? Very possibly. Cast too, they're not bad either.
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