“There is hope for our nightlife yet!”: meet the guys behind UNDR, one of the few London clubs with a 4am license
One of the main priorities is diversity. We want to be as inclusive as possible and given we’re just a 350 capacity venue, we see it as the perfect spot to showcase many subcultures - Matt Wells
Most of us are all too aware of the countless body blows London nightlife has been dealt over the last couple of years, but while closures and license restrictions abound, there’s still hope for our capital yet. This month, UNDR has opened its doors at 36 Stoke Newington Road (formerly The Nest), having had a revamp, and is one of the few remaining venues in London with a 4am license. I got in touch with UNDR’s Director, Matt Wells, and Promotions Manager Miguel Estevez to find out more about what makes UNDR special.
We need to take a trip to UNDR immediately! When we do, what can we expect from the new and improved space?
Matt: A banging sound system, new lighting, lasers and intimate basement vibes.
What are your priorities when booking acts for UNDR?
Miguel: One of the main priorities is diversity. We want to be as inclusive as possible and given we’re just a 350 capacity venue, we see it as the perfect spot to showcase many subcultures. Naturally, we're always keen to get some exciting acts into the fold too, with big names doing unique, all-night-long or extended sets as well. Mostly, we want to keep it interesting and find ways to go against the grain.
With everything that’s been happening with Hackney council recently, a 4am license is big news - why are late night parties vital to London and Londoners?
Matt: Because we still love going out! After a long week at work…Friday and Saturday nights are still the best times to forget about life, to go out with your friends and dance until the early hours. Furthermore, we need to keep our international visitors and Euro friends happy. You don’t really see Europe, North America or South America restricting the fun. London is one of the most internationally diverse cities in the world. Local councils need to remember that!
Why do you think London nightlife has been so under siege over the last few years? Do you think there’s hope for the scene at large yet?
Matt: There is hope! We need to continue to challenge the councils though the correct channels and continually innovate, in order to make the party work through the restrictions.
Why has it been important for you to stay independent?
Miguel: It gives us total control in order to do what we want to do... and that’s a cool feeling. The programming of events, the drinks we sell, the experience we offer to our customers; it’s all determined by a small team of passionate employees and not the investors or larger corporate bodies.
What does your ideal clubbing experience look like?
Matt: A small intimate venue. Space to dance with my friends. Amazing sound and atmosphere. Sound familiar?! (I’m getting older!)
Yep, sounds pretty ideal. What have you got planned for UNDR over the coming months?
Miguel: Over the next few months we have Little Gay Brother taking over the venue with four performers and a great lineup which is still TBA. Another highlight is Manchester's Levelz taking over the venue all night long too. Boy Better Know's Frisco is also showcasing his 'Den' events with special guests. Tash LC is hosting South African's GQMQ's DJ LAG which is a very rare show. We're also working with Beating Heart Records, a charity label working with rare unheard 1950s music.
Okay, time for the quick fire round. Get ready…
What’s the last gig you went to?
Matt: Jamiroquai last weekend in NYC.
What’s your favourite song to wake up to?
Matt: Nina Simone ‘Feeling Good’
…and to get the party started?
Matt: Chaka ‘Ain’t Nobody’
Matt: …AND will always be the best city in the world.
Matt: …to up its game when it comes to the nighttime industry and our current shit show of a political system.. but that’s another conversation.
Thanks Matt and Miguel! See you at UNDR soon.