|Location||Brixton, South London|
The Fridge was a nightclub in the Brixton area of South London, founded by Andrew Czezowski, who had run the Roxy during punk music's heyday in 1977. It was originally started in 1981, in a small club at 390 Brixton Lane, and in 1982 above Iceland in Brixton Road with a radical decor that included beat-up ice boxes and artificial dead cats hanging from its ceiling. Early guest DJs included Keith Barker-Main, later a lifestyle journalist and social commentator. It claims to have been the first British club to have such innovations as video screens and a chill out lounge. The Fridge was at the heart of the early 80s New Romantic movement, and booked such acts as Eurythmics and the Pet Shop Boys before they were well known and drew famous faces such as Boy George, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Magenta Devine, and Marc Almond and Grace Jones who also performed there.
In 1985, as a result of increased popularity, the club moved to its current location; a converted 1913 cinema (The Palladium Picture House) on the Town Hall Parade. The Fridge became famous for its Africa Centre nights, playing hip hop and funk hosted by UK group Soul II Soul. Since then it has hosted a variety of club nights most notably Daisy Chain (1987-1990) mostly dance music, trance and more recently mainly hard dance.
Launched in September 1992, Love Muscle instantly became one of the major gay club nights in London, running every Saturday night for almost a decade. Famous for its uplifting music policy, raunchy stage shows and unique party atmosphere, the night soon attained international renown, regularly attracting clubbers from across the country and beyond every weekend.
Love Muscle's original DJs were Marc Andrews, Mark Monroe and Gareth, who defined the night's music policy of uplifting commercial house, and created a sound that was entirely unique to Love Muscle. They remained at the helm as weekly residents at the club for nearly 7 years, and were then joined and ultimately replaced by Mark O, Dorian, Rich B and Sean Sirrs.
During the early years and again towards the end, the club played host to drag queen Yvette (Ian Hunter-Meek b 1950), a former buyer for Harrods, who gave stage shows containing strippers and live music. Paul Bakalite also hosted Love Muscle for a while (1995/96) and is remembered for his affable persona, meeting and greeting patrons in the Fridge foyer and handing out lollipops and novelties to sweaty revellers.
Due to falling numbers and the occasional drugs raid, the night was temporarily closed in 1998, but was soon brought back due to public demand. It never fully recovered however, and became increasingly infrequent during the period 2000–2002. The night was finally closed (ostensibly for good) in 2004.
Love Muscle returned to the Fridge on 31 December 2008 with the original promoter Andrew Czezowski and the exhilarating pyrotechnics and production effects the night was renowned for.
Return To The Source and Escape From Samsara
During the mid '90s, Friday nights were turned over to outside promoters playing trance music, with a different one taking each of the four Fridays of the month:-
- 1st Friday - Otherworld
- 2nd Friday - Return to the Source
- 3rd Friday - Escape from Samsara
- last Friday - Science Fiction
(If a month had five Fridays the "spare" one was allocated to a promoter, sometimes Pendragon who played a similar range of music to Escape from Samsara. Pendragon's parties at the Fridge were usually one-off events since their regular venue was the Theatre Factory warehouse at Tyssen Street in Dalston.)
Of the four usual Friday promotions the two most popular and successful nights were Return To The Source and Escape From Samsara, playing mainly hard trance including very fast Goa trance. It is reckoned that these nights were among the first in the UK to feature what then became the trance music phenomenon.
Escape from Samsara - the name being a reference to the Hindu concept of Saṃsāra - held its first event at The Fridge on 15 September 1995. Formed from the club Megatripolis, they also held occasional events at the Brixton Academy & Bagleys in London; Spain, Morocco, Germany, Czech Republic, Egypt, Israel and Australia. The resident DJs at their events were Beamish and Oberon and there was usually a live performance by an electronic music artist or group, the most frequent appearances being by Cybernaut, Lab 4, The Secret and Audio Pancake. The upstairs balcony area was home to a market which sold fluoro clothing accessories, chai tea, etc. Also noteworthy is the admission and pricing policy where clubbers paid only £3 for entry (compared to the standard price of £10 or more) if they brought a "drum or didge", thus encouraging punters to contribute musically and supporting those who could not afford the full price.
Like Escape from Samsara, Return to the Source also held occasional events at other venues such as the Brixton Academy and Bagleys. They booked a range of psy-trance DJ's (or "deck wizards" as they were listed on the flyers) with the resident DJ being Mark Allen. The resident at Science Fiction was Sid Shanti and at Otherworld they were Lol and Yazz.
Return to the Source and Science Fiction both relocated to different London venues in May 1997, moving to Bagleys in Kings Cross and Cloud 9 in Vauxhall respectively. Thereafter, Escape from Samsara was held every Friday at The Fridge.
Although all the nights at The Fridge welcomed anyone, the Friday nights were aimed primarily at the straight community in contrast to Love Muscle which was promoted as a gay night.
The Fridge Bar, located next-door to The Fridge, was typically used to host an afterparty on Saturday mornings, with DJs playing music to the small basement dancefloor. A hand-stamp allowed paying punters to come and go freely, some choosing to spend part of the morning in the Peace Gardens park situated immediately opposite the venue.
Escape from Samsara released a total of three unmixed compilation albums between 1996 and 1999. The group Zen Terrorists and solo artist SBL (Silicon Based Life) also both later released "Live at Escape from Samsara" albums. The second CD of the debut album by Lab 4 consisted of a live set recorded at Escape from Samsara at the Fridge, too.
Return to the Source released a number of compilation albums and a few singles on their label of the same name. Otherworld released a trance compilation entitled "Dance, Trance & Magic Plants" on the Transient label in 1997.
Closure of the Fridge
The Fridge closed on the 17th March 2010.
- Jarman, Derek (2009). Modern Nature (1st University of Minnesota Press ed. ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-6594-5. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Roe, Ken. "ABC Brixton". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Pareles, Jon (27 May 1990). "Pop View; For Soul II Soul, the Road to Utopia Is Paved with Hype". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Dangerfield, Andy (24 August 2011). "Famous music venue Fridge reopens as Electric Brixton". BBC News. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Famous music venue Fridge reopens as Electric Brixton, BBC News, 24 August 2011.
- "Clubs: At the Club Face". The Independent. 3 January 1998. Retrieved 22 April 2012. "Everyone knows about the hugely successful gay night, Love Muscle..."