Summer has elapsed. Autumnal leaves and earlier evenings have recommenced their annual bid for “The New New Year.” The season marks the start of a new year for students, and on the minds of many uninitiated first years is how best to plunge into hedonism the first week of their coming-of-age.
Pulled out from under their collective hovering mice are options to buy tickets to Fabric. The legendary – to some, tragically ironic to others – club located in Farringdon, was looking down the barrel on Tuesday, September 6th when Islington Council convened with its owners to debate and review its licence. The decision to review came after two 18 year old men died over the course of 9 months. The licencing sub-committee decided to revoke, despite well reasoned cases from the owners, impassioned tributes from club goers old and young, and a petition with over 150,000 signatures.
— Spooky Bizzle (@SpartanSpooky) September 6, 2016
Metropolitan Police presented evidence obtained from covert operations “across a number of nights,” and a representative stated that the environment in the club had become tolerant of drugs and crime, as well as suggesting the club had its chance to meet a 2014 standards review by introducing ID scanners and sniffer dogs. An Islington councilor called for the closure through tears over the two deaths, despite drug deaths being widely reported in the wake as numbering far fewer than horseback riding. There was even a truly bizarre moment when the idea to ban faster BPMs was floated, as more drug related illnesses occurred on Fridays, or Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dubstep & Grime days to patrons.
London’s music culture at the mercy of people who think higher BPMs, not weak drugs policies, cause deaths in clubs. Horrific. #FabricReview
— NTS Radio (@NTSlive) September 7, 2016
The reek of conspiracy hangs over the decision however – The Independent reported that it was premeditated. The basis for their claim? That the aforementioned covert ops, the did-they-really named ‘Operation Lenor,’ began before the second death. Any of Frabic’s positive aspects such as its friendly environment and diverse demographic were left out at the council meeting, and a myriad other reasons chiefly revolving around Islington council profiting from the decision and the general gentrification of the area. The council and The Museum of London which announced it’s relocation to the neighbourhood had contrary stories.
— Lauren Martin (@codeinedrums) September 7, 2016
To anyone who has been to it and like clubs, however, some of the points raised in the 11 point justification for the decision make no sense. Amongst them is this blatant inaccuracy, “People entering the club were inadequately searched.” I will always remember the quick wit my friend dropped after our first time entering the club, “That was the best handjob I’ve ever gotten.” Suffice to say, the bouncers aren’t shy, much less so than any I’ve ever been frisked by on entrance to a club. To have been more so would have raised serious questions. About what specifically I’m unsure, but serious questions all the same.
Amidst the din though it’s impossible to shake the feeling that Fabric will soon be what the Haçienda is now: soulless apartments with no trace of the culture, the vibe, the bass it housed, and merely is old name adorning the sacrilegious facade. Being 21, I can’t speak of what the latter club was like, however being from Manchester meant I got to hear about it from my elders, including and especially my teachers in college. Seeing “Ian Curtis being a twat” was a favourite memory of my form tutor, and now I feel the odds of seeing Kano enjoying champagne in the rave are slimmer than ever.
— mistajam (@mistajam) September 7, 2016
Is this what we want, as students, as young people and as a city? To cede more ground to Creeping Gentrification? To provide more and more of the centre of the city to those select few who can afford to live in it and deprive locals who for years have elevated London to being a global nightlife kingpin? To divert ravers from the safety of Fabric’s frisky bouncers and friendly, trained staff, to illegal raves in fields, forests and warehouses? It’s unlikely youths (and elders) will forgo their weekly euphoria, in this increasingly disillusioning climate following the summer in politics. It’s the only escape some people have, not to say these people substitute their lack of activism with escapism, but increasingly prevalent among the country’s youth is a sense of hopelessness, or disenfranchisement.
“Despite the semi-brilliant name ‘Operation Lenor’ used by the Met, it just highlights the disrespect and lack of regard there was for the institution in the first place.” Chimed in Jonah Rudlin, a Geography graduate. “It seems like every day I’m signing petitions to prevent the closure of London cultural venues due to megalomaniac private and austere public interests wrestling low profit-margins to the ground – Passing Clouds, The Bussey Building, The Feminist Library, as well as those that have already slipped away. London will eventually become truly dull, and that’s a bit shit I think.”
Communal dancing with altered consciousness is such an ancient and primal human need that clamping down on it never works. #FabricReview
— david wrench (@davidwrench) September 7, 2016
“It’s damaging to culture because although Fabric is a superclub that no doubt makes a lot of money, it hasn’t ‘sold out’ and lost sight of what makes clubbing so special; the music. Despite having an international reputation, it has remained committed to pushing original artists and new music, leaving it as a conveyor of the best of British underground music. I think this is why so many DJs have come out in support of Fabric on social media, throughout the years it has always been about supporting a music scene and not simply about making money.” weighs in Ben Morgan, Philosophy grad.
Whatever the future for the club, the point here is are we really serving the people of London’s best interests by closing Fabric? Personally, I hadn’t planned on going again, preferring other venues to dance to my beloved DJs. But those DJs started out or passed through the cultural staple of the city, Fabric. I never liked clubbing, and have never gone to a Freshers week event, but have always loved music. I’ll never forget my first time in first year with friends who came especially from Manchester; for me it was a gateway into the UK’s rich electronic music culture which I still deeply enjoy to this day. The closure of Plastic People last year broke my heart because I never went, and Fabric’s closure will now do the same for many others internationally.
Importantly, after this erosion of the culture, are any lives actually going to be saved? Has the war on drugs exploited the deaths of two youths for a prize in its endless toiling against certain demographics over actual drug education and enforcement? How is the closure of one venue averting drug culture elsewhere? Are policies like drug testing carried out by similarly billed events like Warehouse Project not more effective and worth trying? Is Sadiq Khan, who created the position Night Czar for the sake of preserving London’s Nightlife for posterity and introduced the Night Tube within his first 100 days of office serious in his intentions? Hopefully in his impending sit down with Four Tet, some wiggle room can be granted, for this isn’t just about Fabric.
Sadiq Khan has DMed me back now and invited me to city hall to share my views on Fabric and London club situation.
— Four Tet (@FourTet) September 8, 2016
There are plans from the team behind Fabric and the Night Time Industry Association to appeal the decision and revive Fabric.