Turning 21 is always a cause for celebration, and few know how (and where) to party like dance music platform Resident Advisor. Best known for its online listings and editorial, RA is now branching out into print with the launch of Sacred Spaces, a gorgeous book celebrating all that’s brilliant and beautiful about big nights out.
Designed by RA’s in-house creative team and Berlin-based studio HelloMe, the book features a wealth of club photography including archive imagery from the Museum of Youth Culture (and a few shots of clubbers looking, well, like they’re certainly having a good night) as well as 26 “love letters to night life from many of its notable figures”, as RA puts it. The book has seven different covers, each representing a city that is or has been home to RA offices – London, Manchester, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.
The publication, which is limited to 1,000 copies, also comes with a print by Jeremy Deller – an artist known for making works either inspired by, or directly referencing dance music and club culture. All proceeds from the sale of Sacred Spaces will be donated to registered charities Choose Love, the Museum of Youth Culture and Bridges for Music.
Texts featured in Sacred Spaces are penned by a range of club-nuts, including artists, DJs, promoters and journalists. Many of the big name club spaces are featured – The Haçienda; Berghain and its upstairs sibling, Panorama Bar; Tresor; The Garage – but these are discussed in newly intimate, personal, and even rather poetic ways by the people who’ve played, danced or worked there.
The texts really do seem like love letters, and serve as an important reminder of the value of club spaces in a time when the existence of so many is precarious at best. Features include Nairobi-based artist KMRU discussing Uganda festival Nyege Nyege and Berlin’s Paloma Bar; DJ Luke Una on Manchester gay clubs Follies and Homoelectric; writer Gaika extolling the virtues of strobe lights on the dance floor; and Roisin Murphy’s romantic ode to Glasgow’s Sub Club (“My darling, you are my kindred spirit”).
According to RA chief creative and brand officer Kazim Rashid, the inspiration from the book comes in part from a letter written by music journalist and former music editor at the Observer, Luke Bainbridge, which was posted on MySpace 18 years ago. “It was a personal, heartfelt letter on how a single nightclub had provided an emotional home and spiritual experience for the writer,” says Rashid.
“I read that text after having visited a club for the first time, unable to quite explain how the experience had made me feel at 16. It was the first time I’d been to a nightclub, never mind had the fortune of such a transcendental experience. The experience itself was so life changing, I didn’t have the words to describe how it felt or what it meant. This drove me to seek out someone else’s words, which is where I found Bainbridge’s text. At that moment, I knew it wasn’t a review, but in fact a love letter….”
It’s interesting to see RA move into print having been early adopters of many of the digital tools that are commonplace today: when it started life in 2001 as a digital-only electronic magazine, it preceded things like Facebook, MySpace, and even the blogging craze of the early 00s. The platform was also a very early adopter of the podcast format, creating the first club music podcast of DJ sets in 2006, and it went on to launch its ticketing service for clubs in 2008. Today, it boasts a whopping 27 million unique users every year.