Despite opening in only 2011, Oval Space is already one of London’s hottest night spots. Its industrial setting in Bethnal Green, overlooking a disused gasworks, rivals Hackney Wick for gritty urban chic, and the 6,000 square foot warehouse-style space affords mesmeric views over East London.
It’s not the views, however, that make Oval Space regularly full to capacity. Jordan Gross, 29, is co-director of the venue alongside his business partner Daniel Sylvester, 28. It was their vision to transform a warehouse once used to stock pharmaceutical supplies into a top class music and arts venue.
“We felt London needed more good entertainment spaces and that this could be one of those places,” says Gross. “But as with all of these things, what you end up with is a lot different to what you think it’s going to be in the first place.”
A successful 2013 saw Thom Yorke, Bookashade, Cutcopy and Giorgio Moroder perform. Oval Space also has monthly cinema screenings from independent filmmakers and hosts one-off events such as this month’s TED event. Incongruously enough, you can also get married there.
At 29, Gross is intimidatingly successful. He used to own a telecoms company and started his first business as a teenager. With Oval Space, however, he’s looking to embrace a slightly older and wiser crowd.
“You’ve got to try and elevate the conversation a bit in terms of this nightlife thing,” he says. “We make sure that when you come here you’re having a really great experience, so the toilets are nice, the food and drinks are good and everything’s reasonably priced.”
Drawing on his experience in other international cities such as Berlin, Gross calls London “a world class city without world class night life”, and has made it Oval Space’s mission to redress the balance.
This is not merely a case of attracting the biggest names – although they are doing that – or hosting shows by outside promoters. These days Gross and his team want to develop their own events in-house, taking advantage of the fact that nobody knows the space like they do.
For Gross this is part of a wider philosophy. “In my view we’ve got to get back to having venues and clubs and places where you trust their curation and you’ll go along no matter what,” he says.
In February begins Oval Space Music – Chapter 1, a grand title matching Gross’s ambition. Detroit techno pioneers Robert Hood and Jerome Sydenham will be part of a line-up that includes sets from the Oval Space’s new resident DJs, jozif and Fritz Zander.
Gross adds: “We’d like to bring more interesting things to the audience and stuff that’s really very good but you just haven’t heard of it yet. That’s essential I think.”