It’s quite easy to walk past The Ministry without realising it’s there. Like the original Ministry of Sound, it’s tucked away in an old Victorian warehouse in the concrete wilderness of Elephant & Castle. Plus, there’s no sign on the door, or in the reception. Basically, if you know, you know – and if you don’t, well, you’re not coming in anyway.
Welcome to the members club 2.0. The brainchild of the team behind Ministry of Sound, The Ministry is here to shake up what we all think a members club is. It cuts a third path, combining the uber-luxe exclusivity of top tier clubs with the networking opportunities of a co-working space, and throwing in the kind of membership policy that makes Berghain look welcoming. Put away your money and your fame – they don’t want it here.
‘We prefer to call ourselves “selective”, rather than exclusive,’ explains The Ministry’s Creative Director, Simon Moore. ‘There’s a celebrity focused view of the world at the moment, which I find very shallow. We want personalities, not celebrities. We only want people who’ll add to the balance of the place, for cross-over and collaboration. Everyone is evaluated on a case for case basis. And it seems to be working really well because there’s people mixing and talking and collaborating already.’ And, with membership fees priced at only £60 a month, The Ministry is highly accessible to a whole new generation of members – ideal for incubating that radical creative spirit.
Above all, its aim is to capture the spirit of innovation that the original Ministry of Sound nightclub became famous for in the 90s, translated for the 21st century into a space where creatives can work, collaborate and build new ideas. As well as the stand-out design features – a 70ft copper bar, sound studios, 38-seat cinema, private dining rooms, playlist curated by sound architect Tom Middleton, tequila and mezcal bar in the bathrooms – there’s also four floors of co-working space set aside for people in the creative industries.
‘The people we grew up with are now the founders and CEOs of start-ups and established businesses,’ explains Lohan Presencer, chairman of Ministry of Sound. ‘The Ministry is for these people – independent creatives who light the sparks that become cultural wildfires.’
It’s poignant that the energy and rebellious spirit of the 90s rave scene should be channeled into a new club based, of all things, around work. But, as we all know, that’s what London is about now: people are working harder than ever, and the barrier between the nine to five and downtime is increasingly blurred.
What The Ministry offers is the chance to have both, all in the same space. Unlike many members clubs, it doesn’t pretend that people’s work and social lives are separate anymore – quite a radical position to take. ‘For young people working in the creative industries in London you spend more time at work than you do at home,’ says Mr Presencer. ‘This is a place where creative businesses will thrive and grow, where our membership will look forward to coming to work.’
As long as you can get in, that is.