thu 20/06/2024

Plastic People vs the Ministry | reviews, news & interviews

Plastic People vs the Ministry

Plastic People vs the Ministry

Opposite poles of London's clubland threatened for contrasting reasons

The diverse and switched-on crowd on Plastic People's dancefloorSanti Rieser

Two London clubs currently appear to be under threat. The Ministry of Sound, one of the most successful brands in club music's history, is kicking up a fuss because new housing block planned opposite it may make it vulnerable to noise complaints. Meanwhile, rumours have flown around over the last 48 hours that police are lobbying Hackney Council against Plastic People in Shoreditch whose licence is currently under review for reasons of “prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance basis”.

Two London clubs currently appear to be under threat. The Ministry of Sound, one of the most successful brands in club music's history, is kicking up a fuss because new housing block planned opposite it may make it vulnerable to noise complaints. Meanwhile, rumours have flown around over the last 48 hours that police are lobbying Hackney Council against Plastic People in Shoreditch whose licence is currently under review for reasons of “prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance basis”.


"as likely as any other club in town to be packed with bovine casualties...." should that be equine joe, as in ketamin, or am missing out on some new double-dipped oxtail business???!!

definitely agree, Joe where was the news article about Ministry? Think PP story is enough to make bbc news.

just dropping by to express my righteous disgust that the closure of PP by the filth is even a possibility. great post!

What a lovely timely article Joe. If only there was a physical dance music press that discussed these kind of ideas (and others)! Looks like the it's heading towards the old council and government chestnut of "X is a wonderful cultural / musical thing, which we will exploit in all our PR etc, but NO we're not actually going to support that kind of behaviour in anyway, we must stamp it out and only talk to corporations making loads of cash and the right noises".

Can Hackney council get anymore bourgeois? They're turning The Foundry into a hotel, putting extra trees on the already tree-lined Stoke Newington Church St and as you say closing Plastic People as a crime prevention measure..??? I haven't been to PP loads but when I have gone, I've found it to be just as you describe-not too hectic, good sound system, filled with people who are into music. Shoreditch is already massively in decline but it's going to become the blandest place in London.

What a particularly snobbish and ill-informed article. A closure of any club is a setback for London nightlife and MOS/PP is no different... but to suggest that MOS is without importance or innovation is ridiculous. They had Larry Levan and Harvey playing there before most had even heard of them. Also no mention of the courtyard hosting secretsundaze and the radio being a sanctuary of specialist shows when even 6music are cutting budgets for similar demographics. Of course there are huge differences, but don't turn this into a poorly-hidden class dispute - it's possible to enjoy both. Clubland needs both venues, but at least MOS tend to bother opening on time. ps - "stupendous, beautifully tuned soundsystem" - when did you last go?!

As lamentable as the PP situation is, I feel it is a shame you have chosen the topic as an angle to have a go at Ministry. Whilst not a personal fan of the club or the much of the music played there, I feel the loss of the venue would be a loss to London nightlife. I find your categorisation of all who attend the club, and the highlighting of an isolated insight to tarnish all who attend, pretty narrow minded. Whilst MoS deserves to be called out for many of its offences against music, I would have preferred to read an article which put forward only the positive aspects of Plastic People rather than taking an easy and well-worn pop at an easy target. You'll be telling us the Daily Mail is awful next.

Jimmy, I can only assume you are employed by MoS. "Class dispute" - what a truly bizarre thing to say. As for the booking policy, Harvey and the late Larry Levan were over 15 years ago, and SecretSundaze are great but a) not exactly innovative and b) had made their name already before MoS took them on. If my dislike of MoS is snobbish, so be it, but don't try and play the "ill-informed" card, thankyou.

And Leo, these two things became news in the same week, it was natural to write about them together. To clarify, I do NOT think MoS or any club should close - I was only comparing people's reactions to the two stories. n.b. I wrote a positive piece about Plastic People on this very site not long ago

If you're not ill-informed you are obviously biased. I'm not employed by MOS at all I just don't understand the slant of your piece - why is it a contest? As for "the hub" again, that's just plain wrong. 'ONE of many' yes, but certainly not the centre. I've been going to PP since it was on Oxford St, and it IS important, but no more important than Fabric, HMD, MOS, Trade, Queer nation etc in the context of the last 15 years in London. As for a palpable twitter and facebook objection - so what? Does that count for journalism and/or political resistance?

"Biased" simply means having an opinion in this context, surely, Jimmy? This Buzz section is for opinion pieces. But I absolutely stand by what I said: all of those clubs you mention, excellent though they may be, are essentially very much of the old school - none of them have Plastic People's importance in the cultivation of the new hybrid genres of the 2000s, whether that be grime, funky, dubstep or whatever. Queer Nation may have great house music, HMD great disco and Fabric great techno and drum & bass, but these are all established, more or less global sounds: none of these venues are pioneering sounds that are distinctively of the now and distinctively "London" in the way PP has, are they?

So grime, funky, dubstep or whatever were invented at Plastic People were they? It's certainly helped to break certain genres out of their respected ghettos into the middle class music sphere, but it hasn't cultivated them from scratch - dubstep and grime etc would still be here without PP, there would just be less white fellas with rucksacks at the gigs.

MOS is much better than Plastic People, I mean if Plastic People is truly representing good music then how come they don't book DJ's like Tiesto or Armin Van Burrin like Ministry do!? they can't really call themselves a proper dance club if they don't play the roots of it all, ie; Trance. Plus Ministry has way more fitter girls which to be honest is why we go clubbing in the first place at the end of the day. I'm with Jimmy on this one, Ministry wins over Plastic any day.

'none of these venues are pioneering sounds that are distinctively of the now' Fabric 6th March Chez Damier, Ellen Allien, Keith Worthy, Konrad Black, Onur Ozer, Patrice Scott, Radio Slave, Renato Cohen, San Proper, Seth Troxler, Seuil Live, Soul Clap Wolf + Lamb,Thomas Muller Live, Trus Me, Wolf + Lamb Gadi Mizrahi... distinctively "London" Fabric 19th March Caspa, Skream, Benga, Rodigan, Ramadanman, Pangeae, Ben UFO, Ikonika This article reeks of uninformed snobbery

Yes, Dexter, the first is a standard Fabric lineup of international techno - all very good artists but hardly groundbreaking. And the second is a hugely commercial dubstep lineup, of the kind Fabric started putting on in the last couple of years, half a decade after Plastic People first featured the same artists. I don't see what your point is. Jimmy, again with this odd class thing - and you haven't answered my point that PP features more innovative music than any of the other clubs you've mentioned. I understand that you like other clubs too, but I don't get why you are so insistent that PP does not have a very singular place within London's music scene.

The Ministry should be turned into a into a stupendous lazer tag arena, or a massive amusement arcade. As i need a new pick up joint

And what are these groundbreaking acts that Plastic People have had on recently?

But what about Trance Joe?? seriously, why have Plastic People never pushed this sound? it's more cutting edge than Dubstep and Techno, has a lot more energy as well.

Joe, firstly I've been putting my money behind the Plastic People bar for many years and don't want it to go but my point is that it's no more important than MOS except for a small proportion of Shoreditch nightlife. As for innovation, you could argue that PP is to the real underground what Fabric is to PP. My point being that it hasn't CREATED anything, it's just had some good, forward thinking lineups from genres that already existed. As an example, it's hardly the Blue Note is it - remember that? PP makes the underground safer for a certain type of clubber and that's great but don't confuse that with true underground innovation. It's a bit of 'the other' without having to go to Stratford Rex... and again, the sound hasn't been all that for a long time. I genuinely hope it stays, but as someone more eloquent than me put it - "It's a building, not a Native American burial ground."

Well Jimmy I think we will have to agree to disagree. I said nothing about "important", merely that they were very very starkly contrasting approaches to running clubs. In my opinion, PP has always been run for music first; Ministry is a brand first, and the punter experience comes second. MoS is very "important" to the club music landscape without doubt; just not necessarily in a good way. I disagree about PP only being of relevance to Shoreditch, and I think the flood of support from artists and fans alike from round the world bears this out. And I absolutely disagree in the strongest possible terms with your spiel about "the other". The point about nights like FWD>> is that they do not have any truck with that idea that black music is "the other", and are about new fusions. You might not think those fusions were first played within the walls of PP, but if you read all the tributes to the club all over the web many, many others would clearly beg to differ with you. You say you frequent the club, yet you insist on writing it off as a bourgeois hangout where all the gritty "real" music gets watered down: this just smacks of jaded inverted snobbery to me, I'm afraid.

"smacks of jaded inverted snobbery to me, I'm afraid." The pot calling the kettle black. MOS and PP serve two different markets which is why they've existed for so long Joe. To compare a superclub (!) with a minnow is slightly ridiculous. It's bit like placing Manchester United against Darlington. It's people like you that give music lovers a bad name. As Elliot said - Joe you are a pleb!

Ah the trolls are out now. I've answered Jimmy because though I disagree with what he says, he makes coherent and well-informed points. I won't dignify trolls with a reply, though. Ulitmately it comes down to the following: this Buzz piece is a personal view of two clubs that are in the news this week. I have had a very good time and seen excting music in Plastic People many times; I generally don't enjoy myself when I go to Ministry of Sound, and even if the music there is good, I find the atmosphere detracts from enjoyment of it. I apologise if that fact offends anyone's sensibility.

Why won't you answer my comments about Trance, are you a music snob??

Elliot's comment has been removed for bad language and lack of contribution to the argument.

@ Jimmy PP is a venue, as is MoS and Fabric. HMD, Trade and QN are all club nights, how can you make comparisons between the two. The only reason you mentioned them was to give yourself some sort clubbing credentials medal. Well done and what did you think of trade?

Pipecock, don't you live in Pittsburgh? What London clubs have you been to in the last 12 months?

Joe - As one of the people who are putting their weight behind the fight to save PP, I dont think you've done our 'cause' any favours with this article. Yes, it's interesting that two different types of clubs are under threat in the same week, but it's a co-incidence and I fail to see the 'irony' in it. Just bad luck I guess. Your comments have probably driven more traffic to that usual because they are divisive and a bit controversial. In that respect, you might consider your job done However, to slag off MOS is narrowminded and kinda disrespectful to the punters and DJs that have attended BOTH venues And re: genres - PP provides an excellent environment for new sounds, but you can't claim it invents them. You appear to have forgotten that FWD started in the Velvet Rooms, ie: not PP Pls dont back track any further - I think you've said enough

Joe - point of clarification. "Ministry finds its source of peril to be .... doorstep" You sound well sussed. Is that like dubstep?

Now that's a bit melodramatic don't you think, Mike? Do you honestly believe a writer on a website giving vent to their feelings about the Ministry will have a detrimental effect on the Plastic People 'cause'? And as for "divisive" - honestly, the Ministry of Sound is big enough and ugly enough to take care of itself, I'm sure it can handle a bit of criticism without the fabric of clubland falling apart. As I said before, this is purely an opinion piece, it's my feelings about these two clubs and the difference beteen them. I'm not making half the claims some people seem to think: I certainly never said Plastic People "invented" anything. It's a venue, it can't invent things.

the sound at PP is awful though, tantamount to ear rape. so i really don't think you could have been down there recently. i'm guessing you probably spent a few teen night outs down the ministry (and then some dreadful grown-up ones for work) and had a bit of an early/mid-20s clubbing epiphany at PP, hence the fawning. i think MOS has the best room, and the best sound, in London. it might be a big, scary, business-first brand, but seeing as the club amounts to about one per cent of the company's income, i don't think the accountants would be worried if it stayed or went. so the fact that it is making a song and dance about closing would suggest that the company still considers the club important and worth fighting for. like jimmy said, at least it opens its doors on time. PP has awful lighting in the bar, scummy loos, a dreadfully neglected sound system and an owner who opens when he wants. i wouldn't put my money on him putting up much of a fight to stay open. if you're going to write about the clubs, take off your rose-tinted specs before you look at your keyboard, yeah?

I'll take that bet, Jane.

There is a petition re Plastic People here:

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