North London's Cultural Guide

Remember The Cross Nightclub? Here it is in 2012

Here’s an image sure to bring a fond tear to the misty eye of electronic music lovers of a certain age. These cleared-out arches used to be a little slice of Ibiza found in the industrial wastelands above King’s Cross.

Yes, this is The Cross in 2012. Nearly four years after the last record was played at the intimate club space – which always attracted the most glamorous of crowds – it lies quiet, a hollow shell.

In that time, the creation and restoration work of Granary Square has proceeded apace just in front. It’s difficult to lament the changes to the area as they are genuinely exciting and have proved so respectful of preserving its industrial beauty.


Yet as Graham Hudson – artist in residence here at the world’s largest urban regeneration project –has pointed out, we are busy celebrating the history of the building’s original uses, while ignoring their cultural and musical importance in the 90s and 00s. (See his video about Bagley’s Warehouse, but be warned, if like me you were a regular, you’ll wince at some of the historical inaccuracies, particularly from Alexis Petridis, who as usual should really know better.)

Here among abandoned, crumbling Victorian warehouses, where railway previously met canal, thousands of people had some of the times of their lives every weekend during the height of the dance music culture explosion.

King’s Cross haulage firm owner Billy Reilly opened The Cross as a wine bar to mop up pre-club trade when the derelict Bagley’s warehouse opposite started hosting wildly popular enormo-raves in 1991. But The Cross quickly became a bijous dance destination all of its own, with a selective door policy and increasingly lush décor both under the arches and out on the terrace (hence those Ibiza comparisons).

Reilly went on to acquire Bagley’s too, then opened the flashing dancefloored The Key club, as the area became London’s edgy nightlife epicentre, a carefree world away from the licencing restrictions and VIP bottle service nonsense blighting the West End and later Shoreditch. (Reilly continues to own clubs in London today and was recently behind the Meribel Brasserie, now sadly closed and morphing into a café, it seems).

Those who danced as the sun rose over the King’s Cross gas burners will never forget the industrial scale of the fun that was had here. Calling this part of King’s Cross neglected pre-regeneration is inaccurate, it was much loved and teeming with life.

But all the best parties thrive on the uncertainty of the moment, literally demanding we party like there’s no tomorrow. The only reason the clubs were here in the first place is that the area was always eventually going to be redeveloped. Therefore we should celebrate rather than mourn when we see the hollow arches today.

Nevertheless, just because all that was produced in that glorious era were hedonistic memories and repetitive beats shouldn’t mean we value that history any less. We await some well-placed plaques. And let’s hope that whichever boutique inevitably finds a home in the former Cross arches, they pay homage to the recent past too. That was a most hallowed dancefloor right there, don’tcha know.

Words & Pics: Tom Kihl

Do you have memories of glam yet ravey club nights misspent in the arches in our picture? Events like Renaissance, Type, Fiction, Prologue, Kidology, Azuli and Vertigo? Leave us a misty-eyed comment…

32 thoughts on “Remember The Cross Nightclub? Here it is in 2012”

  1. Heartbreaking. That space worked so brilliantly – 3 dancefloors, 3 bars, 2 cloakrooms, 2 loos, and masses of space to sit down and get your breath back, outside and in. Nothing like it in London. It will be weird standing in yet another Peyton & Byrne or Waterstones and thinking, “And this was where I saw stars fly out of my fingertips.”

  2. Best club in the world by far. Feel very lucky to have gone regularly for 15 years, starting with Cheeky People, Glitterati on Fridays, then Renaissance, all the way through to Fiction.
    Perfect club, perfect people. So many great memories and moments, where do you start. Sadly missed, but never forgotten.

  3. Many amazing nights spent here at Fiction and Azuli … Great music and I loved the live percussion. Such a cool friendly crowd, I was gutted when it closed

  4. Best underground club night in London and maybe UK, Loved taking new people there knowing that that would come away with such a great experience in clubbing 🙂

  5. Ok if you got past the picker on the door then a feast of fun was to be had. Matresses outside, golden sun beams shining through the doors when you finally come round from a 3 hr dance session, sweaty but everybody up for it………………………fantastic!

  6. Best clubbing nights ever, from the anticipation in the queue, great-looking people (remember when the girls wore silver micro-dresses??), music to die for, chats outside in the breeze, to wobbling back across the yard at the end – steering clear of the pointless burger van! Ahhh …

  7. Some of my greatest nights out ever. Gaining free entry as we blagged we were firemen. Does anyone remember the 40+ year old guy with leather waistcoat, leather hat and the rolling stones Ronnie Wood look?

  8. Working for the Cross group was a great time for us all, so many nights and days spent there, we’ve all gone on to do different things but it’s like we’re family even to this day!

  9. From 1999 to 2003 (i think!) Me and our gang would drive up nearly every saturday night to go to Freedom at Bagelys. Guaranteed, every sunday morning we would get lost driving home!! Had some of the best times ever listening to Ariels amazing 8 hour sets. Even being invited up into the lofty Dj booth by the fella and out staying my welcome by about 3 hours!! Great, if somewhat fuzzy memories!

  10. Just stumbled across this page and a flood of memories came gushing of not only the crazy senseless nights but also the fun i had working with such a fab team at the Cross / Canvas / Key etc. An era and chunk of the dance music scene that will never be repliated and i feel privileged to have played a part

  11. I had some of my best night’s out at The Cross – Renaissance and Prologue..seeing this has bought back many memories. I loved going to The Cross- where people made an effort to dress up for the night and there was something magical about that venue !

  12. This has brought a tear to my eye, the best club in London ever, amazing crowd venue and music, it has still not been replaced knowhere comes close, so glad I was a part of it now all I have is the memories the photos and the cross coffee table book to remind me

  13. Sasha did an amazing secret gig at the Key on a Thursday night. Was amazing! He also played at the closing of one of the TDK August bank holiday weekenders at Canvas. The crowd kept shouting for an encore and he played for about another our or so. Amazing nights at the Cross, Londons piece of the White Isle. Was like ‘We love….’ at Space but in London.

  14. is it still derelict ? If so whoever ordered its closure should be shot. it was amazing and now none of the next generation will ever get to feel what a really loved up club feels like. TREASURED !!!

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