Bagley’s / Canvas
Brief history? This vast warehouse space was always living on borrowed time as a nightclub. As part of the crumbling goods yard behind Kings Cross station, redevelopment was always on the horizon, but until that day the place was going to party hard. And so it did, hosting huge weekly club nights and loads of special one-offs, including the time Prince performed live, or when Madonna shot a video here. In 2003, after some dodgy incidents including a dancefloor shooting, management of the venue was handed to Billy Reilly, who had made such a success of neighbouring club The Cross. He renamed Bagley’s Canvas, and opened a smaller venue in a side door, The Key, complete with a flashing dancefloor. The various clubs on offer created a nightlife epicentre…until the inevitable day came.
Famous For? Holding the biggest capacity nights in London. Phillip Salon’s Mud Club dominated Saturdays bringing flamboyant clientele and ironic production of a vast scale, including such oddities as washing lines full of clothes above the dancefloor with housewife characters vacuuming up on podiums. Its replacement, Freedom, lasted even longer, complete with epic 10-hour sets from DJ Ariel. Classic hardcore events ruled Fridays, with rave nights like Double Dipped or pirate radio sponsored jungle soundclashes the norm. Midweek the site operated as a huge Roller Disco, while on Sunday afternoons, Antipodean drinking and wet t-shirt fest The Church resided for a decade, before a move up the road to wreak havoc at Kentish Town Forum.
What was it like?
With up to six sizeable rooms all operating at once, it was the closest thing to a festival from which you could catch a night bus home. In fact the TDK Cross Central Festival added tents and outdoor stages once a year to just that effect. Wandering through room upon room packed with bouncing clubbers, its size was mind boggling. And the view of sunrise across the huge rusting gas holders and BT tower never failed to excite feelings of being at the biggest party, in the best city, in the whole world.
Why did it close? For being slap in the middle of Europe’s largest urban regeneration project. Luckily the preservation of the industrial buildings and the amazing public spaces being created here are so fantastic they almost make up for the sacrifice of such a major club.
What’s happening there today? The warehouse is still in the early stages of its transformation into part of The Coal Drops, a ‘unique shopping destination’ right next door to the stunning new Granary Square and Central St Martins College. The marketing pitch promises music venues among the many new businesses, so parties may yet return to the Victorian buildings, even if they won’t touch the scale of those in the 90s.