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LA FABRIQUE

Five years of so solid grooves

by Thomasina Larkin

Tucked away on the corner of the trendy Spain-zaka street in Shibuya, Tokyo, La Fabrique is set for what it hopes will be its biggest bash since it opened its doors five years ago.

The first La Fabrique was established in Paris’ Bastille area in 1998. A Shibuya branch opened four years later, offering authentic French cuisine by day and electronic music (with sometimes synchronized audiovisuals), fashion and contemporary art shows at night.

Anyone setting up a new club in Tokyo will attest to the struggles of luring clientele away from the city’s major venues (Shibuya’s Womb, Shin-Kiba’s Ageha and Yellow in Nishi-Azabu). But La Fabrique had its own unique hurdle to overcome, with some clubbers in its early days assuming it was a hangout for French expats.

Au contraire. The club soon made a name for itself as one of the few small, intimate venues that regularly feature internationally acclaimed DJs and artists. Past guests include electroclash producers Death From Above, techno originator Derrick May and agit-rocker Peaches, among many, many more.

“La Fabrique has featured an incredible array of artists,” says organizer and resident DJ of the club’s “SOLID” events, Marshall Boardman. “Like the time 600 people crowded into the club to hear the legendary drummer Tony Allen from Fela Kuti’s band rock it out, or the time Franz Ferdinand showed up for a special unannounced live performance after one of their big gigs in Tokyo.”

La Fabrique has spanned musical genres through its many quality, long-term regular parties: “Mediterranean Vacances,” with its diverse sounds of North Africa, Spain, Southern France, Turkey and Italy; “Vanity,” Tokyo’s first electroclash night; rare groove and funk night “Searchin’ “; and its longest-running event, “SOLID,” a premier underground house party in Japan that brings a perfect balance of vibe, music and people to the dancefloor.

“SOLID” will host Saturday’s party and features JT Donaldson. The San Francisco-based DJ has under numerous labels produced a string of classic tracks — from minimal to old skool to jackin’ house — that have been regularly dropped by La Fabrique guest DJs Heather, Johnny Fiasco and Fred Everything.

Admission is 3,000 yen (includes one drink) and the event starts at 11:30 p.m. La Fabrique (Zero Gate B1F, 16-9 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo) is a short walk from Shibuya Station, just off Center-gai. For details, visit www.lafabrique.jp