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Is Digbeth, Birmingham the new clubbing capital of Britain?

Katie Grange investigates the new music ventures that are putting Digbeth, Birmingham on the map.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 4th May 2012

Digbeth, a district on the outskirts of Birmingham, was once the heart of the industrial Midlands - boasting a battery, tea, and even a custard factory. 

Nowadays these works have been swapped for high-spec retail premises and entertainment ventures, marking the redevelopment and regeneration of the area. 

LAB11 and Gibb Street Warehouse are just two examples of these redevelopments. Both brand-new underground clubs launched on the 31st March with an aim of delivering quality dance music to the astute clubbers of the Midlands. 

LAB11

LAB11 and its flagship night TRMNL is a subversive house and techno delight, stripping everything back to basics from the exposed brickwork, unfinished wood and raw edges. 

Set in a derelict railway arch owned by Network Rail, LAB11 has been transformed into a hip dance music venue. Boasting a SMART lighting system and custom-built Funktion One soundsystem, headline acts to have already played include Radio Slave, Carl Craig and Barem, with many more headliners billed each Saturday. 

Gibb Street Warehouse

Gibb Street Warehouse has taken over the old Space2 venue at the Custard Factory and has a raw industrial feel that brings to mind the heady acid house days. Curated by the masterminds of one of London’s most successful clubs, Fabric, Gibb St has already hosted a number of big-name promoters and artists such as Defected, Renaissance with Sasha, and Arkitekt with M.A.N.D.Y, proving its versatility as an accommodating dance venue. 

The Arena

(Pictured). In addition to indoor warehouse venues, Digbeth has its own outdoor dancefloor in the form of The Arena, a 4000-capacity venue brought to us by the team behind the renowned Rainbow spot. Kicking off on the 7th of April with Circoloco in the Arena, a mammoth all-dayer accommodating the crème de la crème of Ibiza stars including Dan Ghenacia and Jamie Jones, it has already impressed the notoriously fickle house music crowd. Read our review of Circoloco in The Arena.

The Arena has been designed like an auditorium with a natural stage bordered by viaducts and complete with a multi-tiered viewing platform, cementing the coliseum feel and charm. With an aim to host six large-scale shows throughout the year - covering genres from house to techno through to drum & bass and old-school - revellers can look forward to collaborations from key-players such as Cocoon and Space Ibiza. 

We Are Industry

Then there is We Are Industry, another outdoor concept débuting on the Jubilee weekend with two very special live shows from Booka Shade and Carl Craig, as well as sets from Dubfire, DJ T, and Huxley. Located just off Floodgate St, the details of this venue are still top secret, but if the standard is as good as the acts they have booked then it looks to be an exciting arrival. Find out more about We Are Industry.

HMV Institute and Club Air 

Finally, the loyal HMV Institute and Club Air have been staples on the Digbeth skyline for some years now, with the former offering a combination of live gigs (Alabama Shakes are due to play soon) and student nights, whilst the latter continues to stay faithful to the trance and drum & bass scenes that made it famous with nights from the likes of Armin Van Buuren. 

With so much springing to life in the little industrial area of Digbeth, a new lease of vivacity has been injected into the once stale clubbing scene of Birmingham. The closure of the likes of The Custard Factory and Q Club had left a longing hole in the electronic nightlife, resulting in clubbers travelling further afield to the likes of Manchester and London for their fix. Now the future looks bright, with the England’s second city finally gaining a music landscape deserving of its size and status. 

Which brings one to ask the million dollar question… is Digbeth set to become the new clubbing capital of England? Time only knows.

Read more clubbing features 

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