By  on August 30, 2007

At Koko, a cavernous Victorian-era theater in north London's Camden neighborhood, skinny 18-year-olds with a curtain of bangs and drainpipe jeans regularly clamor to see the next big indie act alongside celebs such as Kate Moss, Peaches Geldof, Kelly Osbourne and Stella McCartney.

Red velvet banquettes and ornate, gilt-edged balconies deftly bridge the gap between grit and glamour at this live music venue, the latest incarnation of a concert hall that began life in 1900 as The Camden Theater, where Charlie Chaplin once topped the bill. Restored to its former glory in 2004, the historic club draws big-name artists such as Prince, Madonna and Christina Aguilera, who have played intimate gigs there ahead of their U.K. stadium tours, watched from the balconies by London luminaries including Gwyneth Paltrow, Damien Hirst and McCartney.

"I think [its appeal] has a lot to do with the building," says Daveid Phillips, head of music at Koko. "It's a beautiful looking Victorian theater with high-spec production, and it's a nice place to spend an evening as opposed to sticking to the floor — it really lends itself to performance."

To give the club's roster of more commercial artists an edge, Koko also hosts Club NME every Friday, in association with the British music magazine New Musical Express. Rising stars such as Blondelle, Remi Nicole and The Gossip have played or are set to play.

This mixed-up music policy results in similarly diverse style tribes turning up at the club — which during the Seventies and Eighties hosted fashion influencers such as The Sex Pistols, Madonna and Madness. "You get all the kids on a Friday dressed like Paul Weller, but then we've hosted Kashpoint [a flamboyant electro night], where there's eight-foot tall transvestites. If the club has a style, then there's a pretty big wardrobe to pick from," laughs Phillips.

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