It’s been now a month without London’s most famous nightclub, Fabric. On September 6th, Islington council decided to revoke its licence. This was due to the deaths of two 18 year olds in the summer who took MDMA inside the premises.
Jacob Husley, a DJ who hosted Sunday nights with the event WetYourSelf!, started a petition on website change.org to save the club, which was signed by more than 160.000 people. Despite the support of of fans, International DJs, London mayor Sadiq Khan and a few other MPs, the decision was made.
Metropolitan police, which ran an undercover operation in July 2016, argued that security measures and searches were inadequate. As someone who regularly went to fabric, I can say searches were pretty intimate, with the weird feeling of having your junk touched by a 6 foot 8 guard. However, drugs did get inside. So as any other club, festival, rock concert in London, or in the world.
Venues are responsible obviously, but closing Fabric will not stop people from taking drugs. They will just do it somewhere else. What it actually does, is hurting the underground scene in order to gentrify the area. We’ve seen this happen in the past with the Hacienda in Manchester. The historic superclub was replaced with luxury flats.
But the issue has been eroding the capitol’s nightlife as well. Sadiq Khan has explained how in the past eight years nearly half of the city’s bars have been shut. This needs to stop “if London is to retain its status as a 24-hour city with a world-class nightlife”, Khan said.
To me, Fabric was about the music, and my love for it. But if you’re not into it, you might be more prone to get high. Others, love both and believe it’s the perfect mix. Whatever your beliefs, raving has been taking place way before 1999, when the venue opened.
People are going to take drugs, that’s a fact. If you shut one venue for this reason, you would have to close them all, which is obviously ridiculous and dictatorial. Closing discos could actually push the scene back to the streets, with less regulated , illegal raves taking place.
The closing of the venue has both a cultural and an economic impact. Every weekend over 1,500 partygoers would visit and spend money, not only inside. Many shops around the place would stay open all night and benefit from clubbers coming in at all times. We also have to consider taxis and Uber.
The biggest loss is cultural. The place was a temple for house and techno lovers, especially the latter one. Personally, I fell in love with the music more after visiting Fabric for the first time. The sound system was the absolute best in the capitol. It was more than just a club, it was an icon, as valuable as other monuments in the city.
Scottish writer Irvine Welsh told the Guardian this is “the beginning of the end of our cities as cultural centres, and indeed as entertainment centres in the traditional sense. It’s all about property development. In the epoch of neoliberalism and corporate elites, entertainment is being privatised, and will increasingly take place with gated communities, owned and rented out by largely foreign investors”.
Alasdair Byers of the Independent suggests that it might not be narcotics to trigger all this. He notes how “Islington council has lost half its funding since 2010. A spending review in 2015 confirmed cuts of £70 million over the next four years.”
He also seems to echo Welsh and writes “Fabric was always going to close, drugs deaths notwithstanding. It’s not the police. It’s not drug laws. It’s likely a government that continues to roll back public services and institutions in an ever more calculating attempt to attract foreign money.”
London based/born artists are starting to feel endangered by this. Khan has expressed his will to prevent them from relocating to other European cities like Berlin and Amsterdam, which have a more open vision on nightlife.
The blame is mostly but not entirely on the authorities though. You could assert that Fabric’s fame and touristy vibe eventually led to its demise. Lots of people that went there, came for the first time, with some celebrating their first ever clubnight. If educated properly, those who overdosed maybe wouldn’t have taken all those pills in one night.
Education, rather than Draconian actions, is much more effective. There has been a lot of talk about drug testing stands to be set up in festivals and clubs.What the dealers sell is often cut with something else, which makes it more poisonous.
In 2010 Denise Winterman of the BBC wrote “The Forensic Science Service (FSS), which tests drugs for the police, found almost 39% of the cocaine it tested last year was less than 10% pure – more than double the year before.”
Imagine today, how pure your stuff can be. Knowing what you’re taking should be the first step to improve. Way too many don’t know at all.
According to Newsbeat last summer, the Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridgeshire was the first to have drug testing in the UK. In Germany and the Netherlands this is much more common. Yet, It still sounds very utopic. After all, people organising these events would have to admit having illegal consumption of Class A substances inside.
On September 9th it was announced that Fabric would appeal the council’s decision. Their legal expenditures amount to half a million pounds. They decided to start a fundraising campaign. Anybody can donate 10£ or 30£ and get a T-shirt. As of today, 282, 988£ were raised.
Whatever the reason, drugs or gentrification, the closing of this techno sanctuary was wrong and we all hope it can be overturned soon.
At the moment, we can enjoy the other clubs the city has to offer and hope they won’t be shut as well.
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