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The Night Kitchen's final party was a cauldron of community energy

Sheffield bids farewell to its most compelling nightspot

  • Words: Sofia Leadbetter | Photography: Warren Simmens
  • 25 August 2017

Since 2014, this multi-storey former cutlery factory in Sheffield has hosted some of electronic music’s biggest names. With a maze-like series of rooms (six are open tonight) flanked by installations from local artists in its courtyards, a corridor of sofas and snug capacity, The Night Kitchen earned its stripes as one of the country’s most compelling music venues from the off. A genuine warmth between staff and clubbers permeates the mood in the club, maybe due to its not-for-profit ethos and continued support for charities through its online ticketing platform, Party For The People.

Drifting through the labyrinth of rooms it’s easy to see why so many of the city’s promoters have sought to work with the space over the years. The shadowy passageways, low ceilings and off-beat artistic sculptures are like nowhere else. “Some people come here just to enjoy the uniqueness of the venue and then they get to discover some new artists they’d previously not known anything about,” says regular Asha Hewitt; “there’s a real community feel, and this place closing is the end of a huge era in Sheffield’s underground music scene.”

Among the vibrant disco, Afrobeat and Latin selections heard in the evening’s opening sets, it’s Justin Vandervolgen’s ‘EditChannel XXX’ from Big Miz that really gets the night underway and sees an already rapturous basement crowd dance with renewed vigour. Across the courtyard, South Yorkshire’s very own Mella Dee pleases a burgeoning audience in the upstairs Pipes room with three hours of no-frills house, and back in the main room it’s left to Dutch heavyweight DJ Overdose to lead the way with a two hour dose of turbocharged hip hop and electro.

By 3AM the dense network of rooms that make up The Night Kitchen are heaving, and people seem determined to celebrate the club rather than mourn it. Parisian DJ Deep picks up where DJ Overdose left off, taking the crowd on an in-depth journey through industrial techno, while across the courtyard and down a flight of stairs FYI Chris, Medlar, Tom Unlikely, Andy Blake and more preside over seamless house transitions in the compact Weights room. As the night progresses, the club’s countless nooks and crannies show no sign of emptying out – especially not Artwork and Denis Sulta’s back-to-back set in the basement. Amid the sweat dripping from the ceiling, Hector Barbour, aka Denis Sulta, takes to the mic to cheer the crowd on as they drop Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’.

With daybreak, a steady flow of bleary-eyed punters begin to make their departure and hot off the heels of his last ever set at The Night Kitchen, Arthur Artwork muses on the significance of tonight’s event. “I cannot believe this is the last time I’ll be in this absolutely crazy place,” he says, with a sense of disbelief that fellow act Tom Demac shares; “Why the fuck have they got to pick this place for redevelopment?!” Then they both get sidetracked and start playing the organ in one of the back rooms of the venue.

Thankfully the party will outlive the venue, says the club’s Liam O’Reilly, who is already planning its successor. “We’re working to create something new for Sheffield, and Yorkshire as a whole. There will be nods to the past, but it will also be something entirely new and different to what we’ve done here – that’s all I can say for now!” We hope that they can pull off something this special again, at least one more time.

This feature is taken from the September 2017 issue of Mixmag

Sofia Leadbetter is a freelance music journalist, follow her on Twitter

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