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Swimmers Club

The pioneers of aviation were never lonely

Friday, September 15, 2017


Who: Scared To Dance
Where: ,


What sort of music policy do you have? What stuff do you play?

We broadly play indie-pop, post-punk, new wave and sixties music at the club night. Guest DJs interpret the remit as they wish but it mostly stays within that sphere. When we do specials at the club, such as our annual Swedish night or Girls to the Front, the remit goes out the window.

How did the night get its name?

I drew up a long list of potential names for the night and whittled it down to Scared To Dance. It comes from the debut album by the Skids. I got into them through the Manic Street Preachers who are the perfect gateway into so many bands, books, films, artists. The outro of “Motown Junk” samples the intro of “Charles” from that LP.

How did the night start in the first place and how long has it been running?

The night started in summer 2009. For the first six months we were at The Slaughtered Lamb and it was mostly friends that came. Along the way we picked up a following and moved to King’s Cross Social Club as they had a later license. After a couple of years the club went from monthly to twice a month and we started doing the other night at The Albany.

In September 2012 I decided to move the club to Dalston. I had just moved to Clapton so it made sense to shake things up. We were at the Moustache Bar, a fine basement club, for three happy years and then moved to The Shacklewell Arms and The Victoria which are our current homes.

How many of you run the night?

It’s a one-man show.

Do you have guest-DJs or is it generally the same resident DJs week after week? Are you weekly? Monthly? Less regular?

I DJ at each club night and I’m joined by a guest. Over the years we’ve had people like the ex-footballer Pat Nevin who came on board in the early days, and regulars like the BBC 6 Music DJ Gideon Coe and comedians Josie Long and Robin Ince.

We’ve also had the writer and author Jon Ronson, poet Simon Armitage, broadcasters Colin Murray and Dougie Anderson, music journalists Pete Paphides and Simon Price, and Edwyn Collins recently DJed when we took the night to Stereo in Glasgow.

On top of that we’ve had a ton of bands who have both DJed at the club and we’ve put on gigs for like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Allo Darlin, The Wave Pictures, Darren Hayman, Slow Club, Joanna Gruesome, Teleman, Veronica Falls, Summer Camp, Laetitia Sadier, Talulah Gosh, Withered Hand, Standard Fare, Let’s Wrestle, Shrag, Tigercats, Fever Dream, Flowers, Evans the Death, Betty and the Werewolves, Ballboy, Acid House Kings, Rotifer, The Just Joans, The Spook School, Night Flowers, Cosines, Being There, Red Shoe Diaries, MJ Hibbett, Pocketbooks, Moustache of Insanity, The Rosie Taylor Project, The Understudies, Help Stamp Out Loneliness and Northern Portrait.

Do you embrace all methods of DJing? DJing from laptops with Ableton, Traktor, CDs, just super lo-fi from one-deck or just the standard two turntables and a mixer?

I DJ with CDs and an iPod as backup with CDJs and a mixer and Guest DJs either use the same or vinyl whilst occasionally people DJ from laptops but it’s quite rare.

Has the city where you’re based had any influence on what you do?

I graduated from university in 2007 and whilst there I used to co-run the weekly indie night. Around that time I started going to club nights in London and there was a real buzz around the indiepop scene with bands like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Allo Darlin’ starting to take off. It felt like I was at the Buffalo Bar every week either at a gig or a club and inevitably you get to know people as the same faces kept on cropping up. People who were in Shrag, Standard Fare, Darren Hayman, Pocketbooks The Understudies as well as record lables like Fortuna Pop!, WIAIWYA, Fika Recordings and Odd Box Records.

I knew I wanted to start a club night so it was a natural step to incorporate what was happening. I asked some of the new bands to DJ at the club and I started on putting on gigs. It’s all followed on from there.

I think a lot of people dropped off and a lot came on board when the night moved from Central London to Dalston. The nightlife in London seemed to shift East so it was the obvious thing to do. With the regular club night at The Shacklewell Arms, the specials at The Victoria and taking the club to other cities like Brighton, Glasgow and Berlin I think I’ve found a good balance.

Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now? How do you think it could improve?

The DIY music scene is really healthy. Places like DIY Space are fantastic in their ethos and we’re fortunate that there are still so many small music venues in London which independent promoters can hire for relatively reasonable fees.

However, I’ve noticed a real shift in people expecting things to be free for the last couple of years. People are paying £5 for a drink but then think the same price is too much as an entry fee. The number of free clubs and gigs that happen probably doesn’t help. I don’t think people realise what goes into putting events on. Things don’t just happen. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to pay the equivalent of one drink which will then filter down to paying bands, DJs, door people, venue hire fees, equipment hire fees and advertising.

It feels a lot harder to promote things now than it did a couple of years ago.

How would you describe the type of crowd that you attract or seek to attract?

The crowd that come to Scared To Dance clubs nights are generally in their early twenties to mid-thirties. It’s sometimes a little older for the gig and film nights.

Further Info


Push your shoulders and hands under the surface of the water. Subcultures, independent cultures, others.