A letter from Studio 338 Music & Events Director Dan Perrin
The re-opening will be the culmination of a gruelling fight to re-open this world-renowned venue and mark a huge milestone in the history of the London music scene. Studio 338 Music Director Dan Perrin reflects on the events of the last few years in this letter to London;
The light at the end of the tunnel is now approaching fast, and for us here at 338 it's a time for reflection ahead of the start of a whole new chapter in our story.
I was part of the 338 journey from the very outset. I'd been in Ibiza running beach parties for my little record label, Art of Dark, and came to visit the site just as it was being completed the first time around. Immediately I was struck by the huge potential and fell in love with the Terrace. It was totally unique, remote enough to do something special, and had that 'feel' that you get from somewhere that has the party in the air. Even when empty.
So I set to work. We didn't have much to start with, the calendar was basically empty and most of the company's funds had gone on a complete renovation of the venue.
I was lucky to have the support to put the breaks on for a few months. Clear the decks, so to speak, and begin completely anew. Our ethos was pretty simple: This was to be the home to the best events in London, no compromises. If we didn't have anything that was worthy, we would remain shut. We would be highly selective with regard to the music, the crowd and the brands we worked with, and build something which would make a real impact on the city and its music scene. We would install the best sound and light facilities. We would fill the place with passion and love. We would always try to be a positive force, working with local residents, councils and charities, to ensure that Studio 338 was an asset to Greenwich and to London as a whole.
It was a big risk. The path of least resistance would have been to fill up the calendar with the available events, cut corners and take the maximum money in the short term. Luckily, our gamble started to pay off almost immediately. We were able to attract some of the biggest brands around, partner with some of the world's best labels for our in-house shows and book our favourite acts. The Terrace clearly had the same draw for them as it did for me on that first visit.
One thing however, always bothered us. We had a plastic roof and that meant walking a constant tightrope between giving people the best experience and disturbing our neighbours with amplified sound. We spent hour after hour tweaking the system, trying different ways to contain the sound constantly, but it only had a marginal effect.
We certainly could have waited a few more years and been ok, but true to form, we wanted to go for it right away and decided that we would undertake a major redevelopment of the terrace. Installing a sealed, acoustically treated glass atrium which would dramatically reduce the amount of sound leaking from the space, and future proof us against further residential developments in the area (of which there have been many!).
One morning during this renovation period I was on the way into the venue and got this text: "We've just had to leave the office because of smoke... Dan I think its really bad!”
And with that the whole world fell apart. All our savings, all our lives, all of our time and all our hearts were in that fire. Not only that, but shortly after I got the news that our beloved Tomas had been caught up in the worst of it. I'm not a religious person but I begged and pleaded with anyone or anything up there that he would be ok. Tragically he passed the next day. Even the biggest men amongst us cried. I certainly did. He was the nicest person you could hope to meet. He had his whole life ahead of him and he was gone. Even now it's almost too much to bear, and so I won't say too much more, except that we miss him terribly and everything we do from here on in, has his smile at its center.
Afterwards, we had to survey what was left. Probably the easiest thing to do would have been to give up. Salvation seemed such a distant possibility it may as well have been another world.
Then we started to read messages, tweets and comments of support. It was overwhelming. A fund was set up for Tomas' family and vastly exceeded its target. We were voted number 42 best venue in the world, months after we'd been shut. A fund raising event sold out in seconds. We clearly couldn't let the story end there. We had our beautiful 338 family waiting for our return, and return, we would.
As you can imagine, having just invested everything back into the new glass structure to protect our neighbors and with no insurance pay out (that may not happen for years yet) this was a pretty big mountain to climb.
So we opened our garden space for outdoor events and really saw just how much love there was for our humble Greenwich home. Event after event sold out. The vibe was incredible and not once did we hear anyone complain that the terrace wasn't open. We were surrounded by music lovers and positivity and we gained hope and strength every day from their kind words and unbreakable spirits
We have a team here which is more of a family really. The loyalty and talent of these people is something I'm completely in awe of. Seeing them every morning working towards our shared goal made me feel safe and sure we would achieve not just the reopening but so much more in years to come. Sometimes the right people find each other and that is certainly what has happened at studio 338
So we repaired and fixed and worked every hour of every day and night and at last......we have our building back and ready to reopen at the end of October.
I once read a line which really stuck with me; "out of every ditch a path, if only you can see it".
Well, we were in a ditch for sure, but the path has been one which will make us and the venue even stronger. We will come back with vastly upgraded sound and light, a total redesign of the aesthetics and dancefloor, and loads more surprises to reward the patience and support of those we love. The dancers and the music lovers of our terrace.
Our love will not burn out."