"Former cinema turned club lives on"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
This one time cinema is now one of London’s biggest nightclubs, hosting events as diverse as uber cool house night Secretsundaze to hip hop raves to rather bizarrely, Miss Pole Dance competitions. Up until recently it was also home to Popstars, the popular gay indie-pop night which has since moved closer to Soho.
A venue with a great deal of history, it opened in 1920 as a picture house, and over the decades showcased everything from art movies to porn. The cinema went bankrupt in 1993 and was forced to close after being sued by Warner Brothers for showing ‘A Clockwork Orange’ without permission from Stanley Kubrick, however it reopened in 1999 in its present guise as nightclub.
Nights here are unpredictable as with any nightclub depending on the DJ playing, but the vastness of the venue –there are 4 floors accommodating over 1,000 people, although I’ve never witnessed all floors to be open at once- and the twisting staircases up to the toilets seem almost gothic, particularly when the narrow windows begin to let in the light of the very early morning. The first room through the doors of Scala clearly evokes the box office of a cinema, and it’s easy to picture the popcorn machines where the bar area is.
The main dancefloor -formerly the auditorium- almost seems hostile to dancers, with a staircase running through the middle of it where the steps leading up to the seats would have been. A raised stage remains where the screen was, encouraging attention seekers to jump up and dance to a disinterested audience. This structure makes it a tight space, and on busy nights it can be quite difficult to move at all let alone dance.
Aside from club nights Scala also doubles as a live music venue, and has played host to big acts like Scissor Sisters, Coldplay, and Foo Fighters amongst many others. Perhaps it’s this eclectic mix of events that has helped Scala to survive for so long, in an era when London’s biggest clubs seem to be closing one by one.
Leila reviewed Scala on Tue 05 Aug 2008