The Social, the legendary West End venue that's hosted a list of names that includes the Chemical Brothers, Beck, Edna O’Brien, Wolf Alice, Adele, Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, Florence and the Machine and Cold War Steve is under threat of closure just as it reaches the milestone of its twentieth birthday. Rising rents and an offer to the building’s leaseholder from a cocktail and wine bar chain have put The Social under very serious threat. The bar’s founders need to raise money to buy a controlling share in the venue from the leaseholder in order to keep The Social open. Unless new investment is found in the next 2 weeks then the iconic venue will be forced to close its doors. We're asking you for help.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE THE SOCIAL?
We need your help today. Firstly check out our brilliant, limited edition rewards on this page and pledge your support. We'll be adding more as the campaign unfolds so keep an eye out for those. We also need you to help us spread the word. The more people we reach the more chance we have of saving The Social. Share the campaign with your friends, at work, on social media and beyond. Together we can do this.
The Observer "It really is a place of extraordinary cultural alchemy and fun. It sometimes felt like I imagined the Village in New York might have in the 1950s: a bunch of people invested in the counter-culture, spreading the gospel, mixing up the medicine of literature and music, two great folk traditions.”
The Quietus "Every time I went back I’d end up in a group of extraordinarily lovely people. They all knew each other but it wasn’t a clique, they simply had a shared philosophy, a belief in the magical potential of music that extends from the owners to the bar staff, the doormen to the sound technician."
The Guardian “No one will replace these spaces. What’s never acknowledged when you see stories of the kinds of rent rises and rates increases that take out more and more venues is that they are vital parts of the community – as vital as the BHS cafe on the high street or the public library. They are places for people to meet, to let go, to come alive. People need to hug these places close, as they’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
Time Out "It almost goes without saying that losing The Social would be a major loss to live music in central London, which has already lost iconic venues including the Astoria, the Metro and Madame JoJo’s in recent years. Everyone from Adele to the Arctic Monkeys has played there over the years, and it's also hosted literary salons, art and photography exhibitions and countless club nights. In short: it’s an important, long-running cultural hub right in the heart of W1."
DJ Magazine "Too many of the UK’s historic clubs have closed. Please save this iconic venue by donating whatever pennies you can afford"
The Standard "One of central London’s last live music venues is facing a “heartbreaking” closure within weeks, its founders warned today."
NME “Give these venues some love now because they won’t be there forever and you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Going to gigs, buying a couple of pints and feeding frantic energy into venues…that’s what makes these places tick.”
BELIEVING IN MAGIC SINCE 1999
When we opened in the summer of 1999, it was part of a thriving musical landscape in the capitol. One of the first public buildings designed by hugely respected architects David Adjaye OBE and Will Russell, The Social joined a list of central London music venues such the Astoria, the LA2, the End, Turnmills, Plastic People, The Falcon, the Metro and Madame JoJos (to name a few). Now, it's one of just a couple of places left to see bands or DJs in the West End.
The Social evolved out of the legendary Heavenly Sunday Social club nights that ran in various venues between ’94 and ’99 and helped push the career of the Chemical Brothers (nee Dust Brothers). Rather than act as a bricks and mortar extension of those nights, The Social quickly developed a reputation as a free-thinking, boundary-pushing destination for open minded drinkers from all over the capitol.
Since it first opened its doors, The Social has played host to everyone from the Chemical Brothers to Edna O’Brien (twice), Wolf Alice, Adele, Caitlin Moran, Horace Andy, Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, Young Fathers, DJ Yoda, Fatboy Slim (who sorted his records in the toilets before playing), Kate Tempest, Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys, Al Murray, MGMT, Tim Westwood, Rudimental, Jarvis Cocker, Four Tet, Cold War Steve (his first public exhibition anywhere in the world), Jack White, Irvine Welsh, Saint Etienne, Black Midi, Shame, Hip Hop Karaoke (the legendary club’s longterm home) Jeremy Deller, Fat White Family, Doves, Laura Marling, James Dean Bradfield (Manic Street Preachers), Beck, the Avalanches (first UK DJ gig), Michael Kiwanuka, Artwork, Boy Azooga, Super Furry Animals, Baxter Dury, Goat Girl, Sleaford Mods, Hot Chip, The Horrors, Trojan Records, Vampire Weekend, Huw Stephens (who's hosted a monthly night for the last thirteen years), Nabihah Iqbal, the Charlatans, Frank Turner, Aphex Twin (Italo Disco set) and Lily Allen to name a few.
As well as gigs and club nights, The Social has held regular literary salons with friends from Faber & Faber and Caught by the River and art and photography exhibitions from established names and new talent alike. As far as we can tell, there isn't another venue in London - possibly even Britain - that's staged such a diverse and inspirational list of performers.
Two decades old, The Social remains one of the very best spaces in the UK to discover new music, fall in love with old music or just lose yourself in.
20 MORE YEARS?
We had planned to mark the twenty continuous years on Little Portland Street and twenty five years since the original Heavenly Sunday Social club nights (held a stones throw away at the top of Great Portland Street) with a season of truly special gigs and parties and a significant refurb. We sincerely believe The Social’s story shouldn’t stop now for the reason stated above.
The twentieth anniversary should be a point of celebration; not for a quick, tearful goodbye before the wrecking ball arrives. It should usher in the next two decades with a series of parties presenting significant names on the stage from the past, present and future of the bar. And it should cement the Social’s reputation as one of the most important music venues left standing in the West End and the venue that’s successfully launched over ten million hangovers.
Hopefully you feel the same.
WHAT WE NEED THE MONEY FOR
We need to raise £95k asap as a down payment to get the venue off the market, save it from turning into just another bar and then kick start a second round of private investment so we can take full control of The Social lease and secure its longterm future.
The first thing we'd organise after saving The Social would be the twentieth birthday celebrations at Little Portland Street. Key to these will be the 'biggest small festival in the world' - a month of gigs, DJ sets, talks and discussions and exhibitions from a handpicked selection of friends of The Social who’ve performed there over the years. These intimate shows will be captured for a film documenting the rebirth of the bar at twenty years. Following the birthday parties, we have plans to considerably freshen up promotions in The Social. This will see a host of new nights, a series of streamed gigs and the return of some old classic nights rebooted for 2019.
Alongside promotions in the downstairs area, we would aim to donate a minimum of a day a month to charity. This would involve giving over either (or both) floor to a rotating list of charities to hold events and asking alcohol partners to offer up charity kegs to maximise donations.
A key aim in moving forward is to increase the variety of draught beer on sale by installing new lines and pushing independent beers/breweries alongside those we already work closely with. In an ideal world, The Social would become something like a permanent beer festival attached to the best spirits bar in the world.
And finally, if The Social is saved we would quickly look to set up further venues and take the kind of music and arts culture clash we've promoted in Little Portland Street to the rest of London and beyond.
Basically, wherever anyone wants us, we’ll be there.
If you’re interested in equity investment to help us finance the future of The Social beyond Little Portland Street, please get in touch directly here.