Always FWD>>

Genuinely influential nightclubs are rare and precious. FWD>> is one of those places, and this weekend, it celebrates a decade of influence. Here’s a few reasons I’m proud and happy to have experienced it, and why I’m looking forward to tonight, where DJs from Youngsta to Ben UFO will be playing music from the last ten years of FWD>>

The people behind FWD>> understand the need to create and destroy. They provided the foundations for this thing we call dubstep but it was never just a dubstep club and they never got stuck in a genre. The DJs played (and play) grime, house, garage, weird electronic music, whatever they want.

They’ve curated tonnes of new talent. I can’t tell you how many people I saw go from the dancefloor to the DJ booth. If you’re good, they give you a chance. Ask Ramadanman, Oneman, Braiden, Brackles and countless other people. People who went to the club were inspired to to make music, start record labels and radio shows, to write and design blogs and to photograph what was happening. Once you understood the power of FWD>>, you could apply it to your own life. It’s an excellent philosophy to live by.

FWD>> has serious levels of persistence, confidence, attitude and taste. To start with it was just producers and their friends and the hardcore originals. Later, after a location mutation to Plastic People, and stints on Thursday and Friday it would be busy every week, with big queues outside, so they moved to a Sunday night to deter people who just wanted to get pissed and the fly-by-nights.

As a community, FWD>> is very open-minded. If you’re into it, you’re accepted. I went regularly between 2006 and last year and regularly saw baby-faced youngsters, people in their 30s who’d been through jungle and recognised immediately how good this music was, students in battered trainers, Croydon girls in denim dungarees and allsorts, basically.

FWD>> has been brilliant at creating a space for their music, and letting other people join if they want to. There’s no sense that they’ve ever tried to appeal to anyone. They just do what they do, and they do it well. Sarah Lockheart, Geeneus and Neil Joliffe and resident Youngsta have built something powerful that will continue to influence the UK’s music and creative industries for some years to come.

Hats off, that’s what I say.

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