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Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 08:50 UK
'World's first' eco-nightclub opens
By Matt Cole
Newsbeat reporter

Dancefloor neon Earth graphic

A venue claiming to be the world's first ecological night club has opened its doors to punters.

Some of club Surya's features don't sound all that new - toilets that flush with rainwater and a wind turbine and solar panels on the roof.

But it does have one unique power source - the clubbers.

The venue's dancefloor is made up of wooden boards. But underneath are crystals which compress when people tread above them and as they move an electrical current is generated.

This "piezoelectricity" is fed back into the club's energy supply powering all its lights and air conditioning.

It's even thought there will be a bit left over to power nearby homes in London's Kings Cross district.

'Dr Earth' explains

The man behind the project is the club's owner, the self styled 'Dr Earth'.

Dr Earth
Dr Earth: Up to 60% of the club's energy is made by the dancefloor
He said: "I'm not a scientist but I've been told that up to a maximum of 60% of the club's energy requirements can come from this dancefloor."

The whole venue is decorated with recycled materials.

The drink shelves are made from reclaimed timber, old CDs are stuck on the walls and there's a sofa made from an old bath.

Even the seat covers and curtains are made from hemp.

And if you want to risk the club running out of power by stepping off the dancefloor for a drink, you'll discover its big on beverages like bio beer or organic wine.

It might all seem a bit of a gimmick designed to drag in punters with the aim of cashing in on the current wave of eco-consciousness, but that's a matter Dr Earth was happy to address.

Bath turned into sofa
The club's interior uses all kinds of recycled materials
He said: "Yeah, we want people here. It is a gimmick. If you wouldn't have had the dancefloor here you wouldn't have had the people either, but then they wouldn't have heard the message.

"We've got a deeper philosophy. We want to end telling people to stop doing stuff and we want people to start doing things constructively for the environment."

Spreading the word

And indeed, it's hard to escape from the eco-message as you wander around the little club in London's Kings Cross.

Big plasma screen televisions (running off the dancefloor's power) show images of poverty and desolation from around the world.

Solar energy sign
Good intentions but will punters get tired of Surya's eco message
Messages are flashed up warning of the Earth's diminishing resources.

It's more than a bit depressing but it seems to endorse that this club is committed to its cause.

How long punters will keep coming if the screens remain so glum is hard to tell.

For now though, some of the early people to try out the dancefloor seemed pretty impressed.

One enthusiastic mover called Lucille exclaimed: "I like the idea of generating my own energy, but I'd like to see a meter that shows me how much energy I'm generating!"

Celebrity support

It might be wondered whether there's any extra pressure on the venue's DJs to get the tunes right in case they empty the floor and simultaneously kill the lights.

Jade Jagger on microphone
Jade Jagger played a DJ set on the opening night
Dance act Coldcut laughed off such a suggestion.

One half of the duo, Jonathan Moore, said: "No, no pressure at all really. We'll make it throb with our Coldcut bass!"

His partner Matt Black suggested: "You could get people to lie down or even have sex on the floor! That could generate a few volts."

Jade, the daughter of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, also performed a set on the opening night.

She said: "Green things and ecology are very important to me. So coming here's a pleasure.

"I'm glad it (the environmental message) can come into a forum of fun, because I think a lot of people think being environmentally friendly is boring."

It's not actually clear if Surya is indeed the world's first eco-club.

There's reported to be one in the Netherlands and another in Los Angeles that appear to be quite similar.

However, it does appear to be a UK first and its owner Dr Earth says he's inviting all other club owners to come and see how things are done: "Lets hope people can take this and use it all over the world. We want to push people to use this technology everywhere."



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