There are many reasons to love Shoreditch nightlife hotspot XOYO, but the main one is perhaps that it does what it does beautifully – without making a fuss about it. Since opening in 2010, XOYO has quietly carved out a reputation as one of London’s foremost and best clubs for electronic music of all shapes and sizes (as well as a few live gigs and other events), thanks largely to its consistently impressive DJ line-ups and no-frills attitude.
Those line-ups encompass the absolute cream of the crop across house, techno and disco (in the very broadest terms), plus various related genres. DJs spinning the goods range from up-and-comers to underground heroes and a few scene-leaders to boot, but are always picked for their skills behind the decks rather than their capacity to draw a crowd.
Speaking of crowds, XOYO holds 850 people across 400 square metres over two floors. It’s a nice number for the size and never feels too crowded, but always with enough of a buzz to feel like you’re at something special – which you usually are.
The industrial-feel basement is the larger of the club’s two spaces, and this is where the main action usually happens, accompanied by a string of lasery club lights. Since earlier this month, however, XOYO has a new look after a major refurb.
The new setup has seen the basement layout change, with the DJ booth moved from the stage to the centre of the room, plus added greenery for earthy vibes and ambient lighting replacing the club lights. A new chapter for XOYO, but one that’ll continue to offer more of the same dancefloor-filling nights.
Cool, but relaxed. XOYO attracts a nicely varied crowd who are there for the music rather than to tick-off a destination on a “must be seen at” list.
What night to go
Fridays are usually all about the residency series (see below), while Saturdays are more eclectic, with any number of special guests dropping in to spin the tunes. Regular events are held throughout the week, including three of London’s better student nights (Play on Mondays, Sneak on Tuesdays and Your Mum’s House on Thursdays), plus various live gigs and one-off parties.
Who’s played there?
Pretty much a who’s-who of underground and alternative DJs over the years: Juan Atkins, Richie Hawtin, Maya Jane Coles, Nina Kraviz, Jeff Mills, Modeselektor, Jamie xx, DJ Harvey, Kim Ann Foxman, Kerri Chandler, Todd Terje, Gilles Peterson, Horse Meat Disco… You name ’em, they’ve probably played XOYO.
In 2014 the club launched its quarterly residents series with Bristol’s eclectic beat-slinger Eats Everything. The premise was to hand over control of the club’s Friday night line-ups to one DJ for 12 consecutive weeks, also allowing them to handpick guest DJs. It’s been one of XOYO’s great success stories ever since and has allowed some incredible names – both established acts and undergrounders – to stamp their mark on the club, bucking the recent trend when constant line-up shifts from week-to-week were seen as a necessity. Previous XOYO residents have included Skream, Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Flava D, Tiga, Heidi and Scuba.
As well as the residency series, XOYO’s hosting back catalogue includes the mighty Deviation (a long-running bass-fuelled mid-weeker, led by BBC Radio 1’s Benji B) and Gloria’s, a disco-driven, glitter-drenched bash from ever-fabulous LGBTQ+ party monsters Sink The Pink. Neither night is currently running, but who knows if they’ll spring back into life one day…
Food and drink
Inside the club there’s a well-stocked bar serving everything you’d expect (including craft beer options), and for nearby pre-drinks, hit The Griffin for pints, The Book Club for ping pong and pints, or Callooh Callay for cocktails. Food-wise, as you’re in Shoreditch you’ve got pretty much every cuisine imaginable close by: try Cây Tre for Vietnamese or Homeslice for pizza, both on Old Street.
How to get there
Old Street tube is super-close and Shoreditch High Street Overground is a ten-minute walk. Tons of buses pass nearby.
The latest XOYO quarterly resident series is hosted by excellent Korean house innovator Hunee, which launched on October 12, when you can also grab an eyeful of the club’s gleaming new refurbishment. Hunee’s guests over the 12 weeks include Motor City Drum Ensemble, DJ Nobu and Marie Davidson. Elsewhere, look out for sets from Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, house hero Mr G, and drum ’n’ bass brunch parties.
XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, EC2A 4AP.