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The Cause closing party: saying goodbye to the club that reshaped London raving

For many, The Cause will be remembered as one of this generation's most treasured London clubs. It pioneered a model of working with a local council to occupy a space on a temporary basis, as the surrounding area was mid-development, and has raised a huge amount of money for charity. It also showcased some of the UK's best promoters, DJs and live acts on a weekly basis across its sprawling site. Simon Doherty goes to the final dance at the much-loved Tottenham Hale club, and photographer Mike Portlock gets the last ever images of the space before the site is demolished

“FREE BEER,” the bar staff roar as every drink from every fridge is systematically distributed and consumed. It is the last ever morning at the Tottenham nightspot The Cause, on Monday 3rd January 2022. Veteran house pioneer Derrick Carter is thrusting out Chicago house as magic seemingly fills the air, as it does when all the great clubs have their last hurrah.

There is a certain ecstatic mentality that comes with dancing in an iconic club when the bulldozer is about to flatten the whole site. It’s apocalyptic. People are jumping around like the world is about to end. The last time this writer witnessed an atmosphere like this was the last ever Cocktail D'Amore at Berlin’s Griessmuehle; a three-day party which did feel like armageddon, having taken place just before society went to shit and clubs were shuttered due to the pandemic.

It’s no wonder that anyone who walks into The Cause this morning is slapped by a sense of hedonistic celebration. There is, after all, a lot to celebrate: The story of The Cause — from a humble old car depot turned DIY 400-cap temporary pop-up turned 1,200-cap sprawling labyrinth of indoor and outdoor spaces, which would come to make up one of the best underground clubs in London – was a wild one.

To understand the story you have to go through a litany of various types of extensions: license extension. Dancing. A building extension. More dancing. It wasn’t long before The Cause became an elemental part of many people’s weekends; a giddy whirlwind of untamed nights and lost mornings in north London. Then “a last-minute surprise license extension” after the developers sold the site back to the council because of the pandemic. An extension to the outdoor space. No dancing, just table service. Another building extension. End of the lockdown. Against all odds, more dancing.

“It’s just sinking in when I’m sitting here now,” Stuart Glen, co-founder of The Cause, says in The Theatre, a cavernous space that the team acquired and renovated during the peak of the pandemic. “Obviously it's gutting, but it’s amazing what we built,” he says when asked how it all feels, glancing around. “I’m happy that we’ve done it rather than being sad that it’s going. And it’s quite good to end on a high, in a strange way, as much as I’d like it to go on for another few years. It brought a lot of people joy, it will be remembered.” 

Later that morning, the utter chaos that is the last ever set in the Cage is controlled by The Cause resident Silverlining and Crossbreed’s Kiwi. As one of the last songs played out Glen appears in the Cage, a look of pure emotion etched into his face, he addresses the crowd using headphones as a mic. “This was ridiculous,” he declares, gesticulating around.

A blanket of joyful anarchy settles upon the scene. The dancefloor erupts, chanting ‘The Cause, The Cause, The Cause.’ He continues: “I love you all. Eugene has created a beast here, he’s made rooms out of nothing. And Rhys [Rose, co-founder]... look, there’s too many people to mention. Fucking wicked. Thank you, thank you.”

There are hugs. There are tears. By the time the penultimate tune starts — Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain't Nobody’ — people are literally hanging from the rafters and smashing open palms on the cage in time to the beat. By the time Kiwi drops the last track — Sharon Brown’s ‘I Specialize in Love’ — the iconic cage was being ripped out.

And just like that, that’s a wrap. “Ladies and gentlemen, the show is over,” Rhys Rose announces once the music is turned off, signaling the end of an era. The nostalgia is palpable as the punters had one last look around on their way out, shards of memories flinging up and stabbing them in the heart. 

Once they have finally filtered out, a manager stands on a bar and makes a speech, which concludes with: “We made the best club in the UK”, to raucous cheer from the staff that helped to create this special chapter of British clubbing history. Rhys adds: “We are a big, fat, loving, dirty community. Without you all, it wouldn’t work, thank you so much.”

One thing that made The Cause unique, and also one of the reasons that they won the Innovation and Excellence Award at the DJ Mag Best of British awards in 2019, is that they occupied a space on a temporary basis as the entire area was mid-development. The people at The Cause danced on as Totenham Hale was engulfed with a soulless £1bn worth of fancy flats. 

Is this a new model for clubbing against the backdrop of the relentless and determined property developers that control this city? “MOT [Unit 18] have kind of done it too, they’ve done well,” Eugene Wild, co-founder and Creative Director of The Cause says. “If we can inspire other people to do it that would be a great thing.”

Another innovative aspect of The Cause is that they raised a phenomenal amount (well over £100k) for good causes focusing on mental health, including charities like Mind and CALM. “It’s been really good to raise money for Mind in particular and get to know them,” Glen says. “A lot of people in the music industry have issues with it [mental health], and in Haringey in particular. We just wanted to do something good in the borough and give back in that way because everyone suffers from issues in some way.”  

The Cause — which will go down as one of the best nightclubs in the history of the London scene — pioneered a model that a lot of London promoters could learn a lot from, given the fact that developers get their tentacles into every area at an astonishing speed. And we look forward to the next chapter in The Causes’ innovative approach to shaping club culture. There’s nothing to announce yet, but watch this space

Glen and Wild sum up the entire wild ride in one word each: “Ridiculous,” Eugene saays. “Panic,” Stuart adds. “Actually, no, can I have two words? Absolutely mental.”

Check out more photos from The Cause closing party below.

All photos by Mike Portlock LifeAfterLife Photography

Putting on parties demands optimism even at the best of times. After an unimaginable 20 months, the limits of hope continue to be tested. Read about the issues that UK promoters continue to face, even with dancefloors reopened here

Simon Doherty is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter here