The entrance to Heaven
|Location||Charing Cross, London, England|
Heaven was opened in December 1979 by Jeremy Norman in a former, run-down roller-disco called Global Village, which was housed in the arches beneath Charing Cross railway station, once part of Adelphi Arches, a large wine-cellar for the hotel above. Norman was also chairman of Burke's Peerage, the publishers. The original hi-tech interior was designed by his partner, Derek Frost. Norman, an entrepreneur, had started an earlier club, The Embassy, in Old Bond Street in 1978. The Embassy proved to be very successful and attracted a fashionable clientele; it is generally seen as the London equivalent of New York's Studio 54. Norman used his knowledge and experience of establishing and running a nightclub to create an entirely new kind of gay club on a larger scale. Heaven quickly established itself as the centre of the (then understated) gay London nightlife. Until it opened, most gay clubs were small hidden cellar-bars or pub discos. Heaven brought gay clubbing into the UK mainstream and gave London a club to rival New Yorks gay super club at the time, The Saint.
Heaven's first resident DJ was Ian Levine, who has often been credited with being one of the first DJ's in the UK of the now customary style of "beatmixing". His mix of Disco, Hi-NRG, and early House music became what is known as the Original Heaven Sound.
Under the direction of the club's original manager David Inches, Heaven sought DJs who would become exclusive to the club and were groundbreaking in terms of their music selection and style. Many Heaven DJs would go on to find greater acclaim in both the gay and mainstream music industry. Original Heaven DJs include: Tony De Vit, Colin Holsgrove, Marc Andrews, Marc Monroe, George Mitchell, Ian D, Tallulah, Jon Dennis, Rich B & Wayne G. Heaven also attracted legendary names from the United States such as House music pioneer Frankie Knuckles, who played at the Thursday night Delirium!.
In 1982, Heaven was acquired from Norman by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Branson was one of the first to identify the burgeoning 'pink pound' and saw the club as an investment opportunity, Branson reported in his autobiography that the £500,000 used to purchase Heaven were financed by the brewery supplying drinks to the venue.
The club night Asylum (on Thursdays) started around the same time, with resident DJs Mark Moore (S'Express), Evil Eddie Richards, and Colin Faver. By 1985 this had become Pyramid (shifted to Wednesdays) and was one of the first clubs in the Country to play emerging House music from Chicago.
As one of the first gay clubs in London, and one of the first openly so in the world, Heaven courted controversy, frequently appearing in the tabloid press, especially in the famous The Sun headlines about ecstasy use in the nightclub in 1989.
In the late 1980s, Heaven would host two what would become legendary nights during the height of Acid House, Techno, and Breakbeat Hardcore rave culture. The first was Spectrum promoted by Paul Oakenfold and Ian St Paul, which ran on Monday nights between April 1988 and 1990., and the other was Rage, a Thursday night running between October 1988 and 1993 which included DJs Fabio & Grooverider, Colin Faver, and Trevor Fung.
In the mid 1990s, Wednesday night was Fruit Machine, hosted by Miss Kimberly with a strong Drag theme. Fridays were Garage playing Techno and Hardbag with DJs Blu Peter and Mrs Wood. Saturday nights were 'Heaven is Saturday - Saturday is Heaven' which hosted a variety of parties and weekly changing themes.
Soundshaft was a small club attached to Heaven. Between 1988 and 1990, this hosted the seminal Troll night and which launched the career of DJs Daz Saund and Luke Slater. It is now called The Stage Bar.
In 1998, the club was refurbished and relaunched as a more mainstream venue to challenge increasingly popular clubs such as Trade and The Fridge. As part of this broadening appeal, a new Monday Indie night called Room Two started alongside its more trademark night of Popcorn which started on a Monday (and replaced Fridays Popstarz). To ensure the club stayed relevant, it also hosted nights from popular promoters such as Gatecrasher and Bedrock (on a Thursday night until 2005, with resident DJ John Digweed.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Heaven adopted a more mainstream Tribal house and Disco-influenced sound, employing DJs that had been resident at other major gay London nightclubs such as Trade and Salvation, such as Billy Gonzalez.
In 2003, Virgin sold the club to a consortium which comprised Paul Savory, David Inches, and Jeremy Millins (Pure Group).
On 22 September 2008, Heaven was purchased by the MAMA Group through its jointly owned subsidiary company G-A-Y Ltd. G-A-Y was a popular and long-running gay night hosted for many years at the London Astoria, and on Friday 3 October 2008, MAMA Group moved G-A-Y to Heaven. Little over a year later, MAMA Group itself was bought by music retailer HMV
Heaven often features live performances by notable artists. These have included:
- Madonna (June 1985)
- Pet Shop Boys
- Kylie Minogue
- Dannii Minogue
- Nicole Scherzinger
- The Rasmus
- Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
- Vanessa Amorosi
- Macy Gray
- Kelly Clarkson
- Jessie J
- Idina Menzel
- Billie Ray Martin
- The Chemical Brothers
- My Chemical Romance
- Nick Jonas
- Baby D
- Grace Jones
- Geri Halliwell
- 5 Seconds of Summer's Micheal Clifford
- Patty Walters
- Big Bang
- Amanda Lear
- Eartha Kitt
- Cyndi Lauper
- Lily Allen
- CeCe Rogers
- Army of Lovers
- Culture Beat
- Sandra Bernhard
- Loleatta Holloway
- Martha Wash
- Hazell Dean
- Black Lace
- Zara Larsson, MNEK
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor
- The Saturdays
- The Sound
- Leona Lewis
- Hilary Duff
- One Direction
- Miley Cyrus
- Adam Lambert
- Ellie Goulding
- Cher Lloyd
- Lady Gaga
- Melanie Martinez
- Little Mix
- Demi Lovato
- DNCE Von Sudenfed featuring Mark E Smith of The Fall
- Cher launching her single Believe there in 1998
- Måns Zelmerlöw
- Conchita Wurst
- Rita Ora
- Pixie Lott
- Bebe Rexha
- Raye (singer)
- Pabllo Vittar
- Kim Petras
Monday continues to play host to Popcorn, a largely student night which plays pop and funky house music. It is a predominately gay event.
Thursday plays host to Porn Idol, a strip competition for men and women previously held at the Astoria, with £250 offered to the winner each week. The competition comprises several rounds, with £1,000 awarded to the season winner. It is preceded and followed by three rooms of pop.
Friday plays host to Camp Attack, a long-running night from the days at the Astoria.
Saturday night events continue to mostly feature a live performance.
- Brewster, Bill (2014). Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. Grove Press. p. 212. ISBN 9780802146106.
- "Frankie Knuckles". Faith Fanzine. 19 April 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "Interview / Noel Watson / Part 3 / Post-Delirium!". Test Pressing.
- Bill Brewster (12 January 2018). "S'Express Mastermind Mark Moore on Unsung Heroes of the UK's Early House Scene". RBMA Daily. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- "You're too Young to Remember the Eighties – Dancing in a Different Time". Datacide. 8 April 2009.
- Sam Richards (17 April 2013). "The Great British Freak-Out". MixMag.
- "Spectrum (London)". Original House. 16 March 2017.
- Laurant Fintoni (21 July 2015). "Nightclubbing: Fabio and Grooverider's Rage". RBMA Daily. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019.
- "Powder Room: Were Coming Out – Spunkflakes – Uptown Punk Rock N Roll with a B-Movie Twist". 13 April 1994.
- Stuart Brumfitt (16 October 2015). "The visual legacy of 90s gay club trade". Vice (ID).
- "MAMA Group "delighted" at acquisition of Heaven". PinkNews.co.uk. 25 September 2008.
- "HMV buys MAMA Group in live music takeover deal". BBC News. 23 December 2009.
- "Jeremy Joseph buys G-A-Y from HMV administrators". PinkNews.co.uk. 24 January 2013.
- Heaven Canaria
- Heaven Ibiza