Heaven (nightclub)

Heaven (nightclub)

Infobox music venue
name = Heaven

caption = The entrance to Heaven
location = Charing Cross, London
type = Night club
genres =
years_active = 1979 — present
capacity = 1,625
owner = Mama Group PLC
promotions = Camp Attack
Fruit Machine
Gatecrasher| website = [http://www.heaven-london.com/ www.Heaven-London.com]

Heaven is a nightclub in London, England which appeals predominantly (but not exclusively) to the gay market. It is located underneath Charing Cross railway station in Central London, just off Trafalgar Square.

History and background

Early history

Heaven opened in Dec 1979. It was opened by Jeremy Norman. The interior was designed by his partner Derek Frost. Norman had started an earlier club, The Embassy, in Bond Street in 1978. The Embassy had taken London by storm and is generally seen as the London equivalent of New York's Studio 54. Norman, an entrepreneur took his knowledge and used it to create an entirely new form of gay club on a larger scale in the arches beneath Charing Cross railway station, once part of Adelphi Arches, a large wine-cellar for the hotel above. Heaven quickly established itself as the centre of the (then understated) gay London nightlife. Until Heaven, most gay clubs were small hidden cellar-bars or pub discos. Heaven brought gay clubbing into the mainstream.

In 1993, Heaven was acquired from Norman by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Branson was one of the first to identify the burgeoning 'pink pound' and saw the club as an investment opportunity. However, as one of the first gay clubs in London, and one of the first openly-so in the world, it courted controversy, frequently appearing in the tabloid press, especially in the famous News of the World headlines about alleged ecstasy use in the nightclub in 1989.

Heaven became home to the Megatripolis club in October 1993 until October 1996 hosting visits from Allen Ginsberg, Terence McKenna and Ram Dass and DJs including Derrick May and Mr C.

The club was refurbished in 1998 and re-opened as a mainstream nightclub to challenge other larger nightclubs in Central London which had since appeared since the growing popularity of house music. Clubs like Trade and The Fridge had constantly challenged Heaven's long standing reputation as the only major gay nightclub in London.


Famous performances include Divine, Sylvester, Eurythmics, Billie Ray Martin, Baby D, Grace Jones and most notably Cher who launched her single "Believe" there in 1998 to a packed crowd. Cher was introduced onto stage by close friend Ben Kingsley. The singer was so scared by the amassed crowds, that once on stage she "mimed" to only two songs instead of the intended five.


Heaven's original resident DJ Ian Levine has often been credited with creating the now customary style of audio mixing (when previously two records had normally only been segued together by fading one in and the other out regardless of tempo).

Through the direction of Heaven's original stage manager David Inches, Heaven has always tried to find and employ unknown (and low-cost) DJs who played and most often produced new sounds and mixing styles. These DJs then usually went to find greater acclaim in the mainstream or gay music industry. Original Heaven DJs have included: Ian Levine, Marc Andrews, Ian D, Jon Dennis & Wayne G.

One of Heaven's most famous DJs Marc Andrews left his main Saturday night residency to join rival club The Fridge based in Brixton. Their Saturday night presentation "Love Muscle" gave Heaven competition and caused a significant change in the balance of the major London gay club's control of the pink pound market.

Towards the middle 2000's, Heaven adopted a more mainstream tribal house and disco based sound employing DJs originally resident at other major gay London nightclubs such as Gonzalo (a DJ originally resident at Trade, Salvation and Action).

Presently the music policy of Heaven's main dance-floor has a more credible and underground edge. Heaven's current Saturday night exclusive resident DJs Pagano and Nick Tcherniak play a variety of styles including Progressive House, Techouse, Deep House and Electro.

After the 1998 refurbishment

"Heaven" was highly profitable in the early part of the millennium, even though gay culture in itself had become progressively mainstream and less underground. Heaven's reputation ensured it was chosen by national promoters such as Gatecrasher and Bedrock (run by DJ John Digweed) who eventually took up a permanent residence on a Thursday night until 2005.

After the 1998 refurbishment, Heaven enjoyed a real buoyancy in terms of custom, and was very popular. The dotcom revolution and the economic upturn of 1999–2000 meant that customers had a lot of disposable income.

The Heaven Sound

The original Heaven sound of the 1970s and 1980s could be attributed primarily to the producer Giorgio Moroder and later to original resident DJ Ian Levine. It can be described as having disco origins and influenced by the emergent house music style. Examples of this style of music include Yvonne Elliman's - "Love Pains", Company B's - "Fascinated", Eria Fachin's - "Savin' Myself", Donna Summer's - "I Feel Love", Pet Shop Boys - "It's A Sin" or "Always On My Mind", and Divine's - "Native Love".

Post 9/11

The attacks on New York on 9/11 sent a shock through the worldwide economy, especially affecting airlines. The Virgin Group, who at the time owned both Virgin Atlantic and "Heaven", wanted to consolidate their business portfolio and concentrate on Virgin branded products. Although "Heaven" was part of Virgin Hotels group, it did not carry the Virgin logo, and had no open association with Virgin. This led to the sale of the club in 2003 to a consortium which comprised Paul Savory (who invested the lion's share of cash), Pure Group [http://www.puregroup.com] owner Jeremy Millins and original creative director David Inches.


Inevitably "Heaven" now faces increased competition from many other clubs which enjoy more liberal licensing regulations south of the river, in Vauxhall, for example "Fire". On the latter point, however, Heaven now has a 06:00 drinks licence, and in fact is the only venue in Westminster to have one.

Another source of competition has been other places for gay men to meet: saunas/Gay bathhouses, and websites such as Gaydar. Other niche venues specialising in areas of gay sub-culture have also sprung up including fetish, BDSM, sportswear and uniform clubs.

Heaven brand worldwide

The Heaven name - which still belongs to the original owner - has been franchised around the world in: Gran Canaria [ [http://www.heaven-grancanaria.com/default/index.asp] ] and Ibiza [ [http://www.heaven-ibiza.com Heaven Ibiza ] ] .


On 22 Sept 2008, Heaven was purchased by the MAMA Group through its jointly-owned subsidiary company G-A-Y Ltd. [ [http://www.mamagroup.co.uk/18/section.aspx/download/99 MAMA Group - Acquisition of Heaven (London) Limited and issue of convertible loan note] ] MAMA Group's partner in G-A-Y, Jeremy Joseph, has promised, "The next couple of weeks I will spend getting to re-know Heaven and will be making plans that will include a major refurbishment."Fact|date=September 2008 He emphasised that G-A-Y only ever rented their previous venue, the Astoria, which they moved out of this summer. That meant they couldn’t change its run-down interior, but Joseph will be in a position to invest in Heaven.Fact|date=September 2008 He promised clubbers that G-A-Y’s Saturday nights will return at the new venue, as will the Friday night Camp Attack. But he also said he would be trying to retain Heaven regulars.Fact|date=September 2008

Heaven Today

Heaven remains one of the best known gay nightclubs in London and one of the largest in terms of floor space in Central London. [ [http://www.timeout.com/london/gay/events/644913/heaven.html Heaven at Heaven - Bars & clubs - Gay & Lesbian - Time Out London ] ] [ [http://americanairlines.wcities.com/en/record/46,2856/1/record.html London | Bars, Cafés & Nightlife | Gay & Lesbian | Heaven Nightclub | AA Destination Guide ] ] [ [http://www.guidemag.com/travel/invoketravelarticle.cfm?ID=5F49F7FD-CC6C-11D3-AD8E0050DA7E046B May 2007 London travel article on www.guidemag.com ] ] It hosts several large events, corporate events and has been used as a setting for music videos.


Monday is perhaps the busiest night in "Heaven"'s week. The club plays host to a party called Popcorn! which plays pop and funky house music.

Although advertised as a gay event, the production style of the events have toned-down the gay ethos. The club occasionally features drag queens, however, nowhere near as many as previous years. This has led to "Popcorn" attracting criticism from the gay community and accusations of "Heaven" "selling out" and losing its core values as a gay venue.


Wednesday at Heaven is [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article611876.ece Patrick Lilley] 's "Work!", with a music mix of electro, RnB, 1980s, house and pop in three rooms.


Fridays used to be private hire nights where events like Gatecrasher and Euphoria would make guest appearances. Since being taken over by the G-A-Y brand, Heaven will host "Camp Attack". [http://www.g-a-y.co.uk/eventdetail.asp?ID=464]


On " [http://scene-OUT.com/party/showproduct.php?product=78 Heaven Saturday] ", a variety of music is played, aimed at a wide cross-section of the gay community. These nights occasionally feature a stage performance of (often) muscular men dancing on podiums.

Heaven in popular culture

The club is referenced in the song "Heaven" on the 1979 "Fear of Music" album by the Talking Heads. David Byrne describes his song as being about "a gay disco in London owned by Richard Branson." Fact|date=February 2008 It is also referred to directly in the "Battles" episode of the first series of the UK sitcom "Spaced".


External links

* [http://www.heaven-london.com Official website]

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