How I went to the Ministry Of Sound
Last summer, I performed in London for the second time, and this time I also managed to visit the legendary Ministry Of Sound. I will tell you about the club and my impressions.
How did I get there
I flew to London on June 14, the day before my show. By touring standards, this is just an unprecedented amount free of time, so I would use this opportunity to visit one of the attractions. The Ministry Of Sound was number one on my list.
The night before, I discovered that the progressive house veterans Quivver, Hernan Cattaneo and Dave Seaman would be playing as part of the Sudbeat label party, so I decided to combine business with pleasure: go to the club to explore and listen to good music.
Emma, the promoter who had arranged my booking, was kind enough to put me on the guest list, with access to the VIP lounge. Of course, I usually don’t need the privileges of a VIP person, but it would be nice to see all areas of the club, so I was very grateful for this opportunity. A regular ticket would have cost me £30.
About the club
The Ministry is five minutes from the Bakerloo line’s Elephant & Castle tube station. On the way to the club, there are signs asking to respect the neighbours:
The entrance is unremarkable, apart from the club logo on the railings and the projection of the adjacent building:
I came almost to the doors opening, so there was no queue. At the entrance, security politely asked me if I had a ticket, and I told them I was on the guest list. A man ran a metal detector over me, and I went through. Everything was swift and friendly.
I wasn’t wearing any coats, so I didn’t use the checkroom or remember it. As far as I know, the cloakroom is a charge of £3.
The club has four dance floors, each with its own name: The 103, The Box, The Baby Box and The Loft.
The 103 is the first dance floor you come into after entering. The bar along the long side makes this room a hangout place and a pre-party before the main action of the night.
The DJ booth is located in the far and almost unlit corner of the dance floor, which only indirectly confirms my assumption about the purpose of this place. On the opposite side of the bar are steps to the balcony, from where you can view the entire dance floor.
The club filled up quickly, and by midnight it was pretty crowded:
Dave Siman and Steve Perry were behind the decks all night long. As per usual, they played house, tech house, and progressive house:
My main discovery was the crowd: a good third of the visitors were Chinese. I would never have guessed that! People in the know explained that there was a university near the club, where many wealthy Chinese studied, so going to the Ministry was something like a student night out to them. They got drunk fast, though, so they soon left the dancefloor.
You get to the VIP area if you go up the stairs and to the left. From there, you can see The 103 dance floor on one side from the balcony and The Box through the windows on the other side:
The Box is the main dance floor and the main pride of the club. They don’t open it immediately, but only when The 103 gets crowded enough – until then, it’s closed with doors and heavy curtains. This night it opened at 00:30.
On the aisle to the dance floor there is a warning sign about the loud sound, and as it turned out a few seconds later – for a good reason:
There is no bar or even any seating around the edges of this dance floor. Just dancing and fantastic sound.
It is worth telling more about the sound. Usually, in clubs, speakers are near the stage, so if you get close, the sound is too loud, and if you move to the corner of the dance floor, it’s too quiet. As a result, you look for the perfect place on the dance floor, a little sweet spot where you feel comfortable.
But at the Ministry Of Sound, it’s a whole different story. The dance floor of The Box is almost square, and the speakers are arranged around its perimeter so that everything sounds equally excellent in every part. As soon as you step inside, the punchy soundwaves immerse you, and this pleasant feeling of sound pressure remains equal at any point on the dancefloor. So, in short, the Ministry Of Sound has the best sound system I’ve ever heard and felt.
the Ministry Of Sound has the best sound system I’ve ever heard and felt
Here are some technical details from the audio manufacturer who handled this project:
Martin Audio’s R&D Director, Jason Baird designed what is now the timeless six-stack 5-way hybrid sound field. Designing custom versions of the AS118 bass and Wavefront W8C mid-high cabinets, with two 21” ASX subs form the base of each of the six stacks around the perimeter of the dancefloor, coupled with a custom horn flare. The flare not only met the MoS management brief that the design should retain the physical presence of the old stacks, but at the same time enabled more output to be generated with better horizontal directivity. “By accurately aiming the stacks, we could broaden out the low frequencies to cover the whole of the dancefloor,” he rationalised.
At The Box, I only caught Quiver, who played until two in the morning. It was an excellent progressive house set:
The Baby Box and The Loft
I got to The Baby Box and The Loft by accident and didn’t even know they existed until that night. The Baby Box has little light, almost a dark room. The Loft, on the contrary, has more light than usual, as well as an extra bar and sofas – such a chill zone. I understand these dance floors are places for up-and-coming local DJs, so they are not even on the poster.
The reasonable part of me thought it would be a good idea to get some sleep the night before my own show, so I went home at about 02:30.
And on the way out of the club, I found a smoking area, which was larger than the two small dance floors combined:
Read also: how I went to Printworks London.