Arguably the most famous club in the world, the Ministry of Sound has played host to everyone from the key architects of dance music to globally renowned superstars like Eminem and Metallica. It’s even been used a location for one of the Batman films, but most impressive of all it continues to pack them in every weekend some 20 years after it opened.
From the outside it looks little more than a large industrial shed than a club, but once inside, like Amsterdam or Glastonbury, its maze-like layout means you’ll always get a bit lost however many times you visit. You enter by the club’s outdoor smoking and food area, walk down a long, glittery corridor and into the club’s bar, overlooked by a balcony that leads to the VIP area and the intimate Baby Box, where the 60s-inspired decor and modernist sofas make you feel like you’ve stumbled onto a club scene from an Austin Powers movie. Even in the bar there are DJs and widespread dancing and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d found the main room – but once you’re in the main room you’ll definitely know it, not least for the thumping great sound system, somehow deafening without hurting your ears, the eye blistering lightshow and the sight of at least a thousand people partying harder than you’ve ever seen before.
Totally unrestrained and exuberant in the main room, certainly, where people clamber atop the speakers and on the stage to dance, dance, dance. It’s probably fair to say the real peak time slot is well after midnight, although popping in at the end of a long evening at say 4am or 5am, once the crowd has thinned out a little and you’re left with a hardcore of ravers resolute to continue to the bitter end, can also be fun. Any earlier and you can expect to be politely jostled and bumped into a fair amount because it’s invariably that full. The only dampener on the good times can be the bouncers – most are reasonable, a handful can be abrupt to say the least.
A number of different promoters take over the club on different nights, but house music is what it is mainly known for and house music is more than likely what you’ll get if you turn up randomly. Some club nights, like The Gallery and Kinky Malinki, are some of the longest established names among the capital’s nightlife. The Ministry has kept things fresh by constantly bringing on new nights, and its current roster includes the more techno orientated Toolroom Knights, Funk Farm, KM, cult hero Deadmau5’s Mau5trap night, Latin get together La Bomba, Size Matters and We Love… Every club from jungle bash AWOL to fetish freakshow Torture Garden has been here at some stage, though, and often return for one offs, so check the listings regularly.
Having initially opened as a dry club with no drinks license, it seems the Ministry is attempting to make for lost time now, charging stern prices even by nightclub standards for what is essentially a respectable but by no means impressive selection of small bottles of beer (be prepared to part with a fiver), to spirits (now we’re talking tenners). It’s just as well you’ve got a stiff drink to hand, because you’ll need one when you get your change.
The Last Word
It might not be perfect, and you’ll certainly spend a fair whack getting in and on drinks, but for house and techno fans especially there’s still plenty of magic to be found inside these legendary walls.