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Fabric closure further signals the erasure of London’s clubbing scene

08 Sep 2016

Yesterday morning signalled yet another bleak indicator of London’s failing nightlife. After opening in 1999, the British institution Fabric was permanently closed yesterday following two recent drug-related deaths. Whilst any drug-related death remains devastatingly tragic, the closure of Fabric highlights a much deeper problem in the bureaucracy surrounding London’s nightlife and the city’s attitude towards drugs.

Over the last 24 hours, the internet has been flooded with articles, opinion pieces and tweets on the matter. What has been prevalent is a great outcry for the preservation of our nightlife and criticism that government policies are moulding London’s culture into a certain shape. Having read the Islington Council Licensing decision form, it seems bizarre that they would state ‘people entering the club were inadequately searched’. Anyone who’s been to the Clerkenwell venue would know this is not the case, as over the years, the security checks have always been thorough. Ultimately, the reasons for the closure have been cited as due to two particular deaths that took place earlier this year, and four drug-related deaths in the past four years. Yet, the reality of the situation appears to be more complex.

Using the recent deaths at Fabric as the reason for its closure seems outdated. Recreational drug use is undeniably one of many facets in the culture of nightlife in London, the rest of the UK and around the world. Rather than governments blaming clubs and institutions like Fabric for drug abuse, would it not be more efficient to address the deeper issue of what can be done to make it safer?

Prior to the shutdown, a petition was created in an attempt to save the club, gained over 150,000 signatures, calling upon Mayor Sadiq Khan to “stop the closure of Fabric.” Although, Khan waded in and advertised for a new job role to be London’s night tsar, such efforts were sadly not enough to invoke a change in policy. The disappointment and despair from the public and prominent figures within the music industry has been huge. DJ’s and artists from across the world have paid homage to the institution.

In recent years, club venues have been dropping like flies from the landscape of London’s nightlife – with the closure of some great London clubs such as Plastic People, Cable and recently Dance Tunnel. Passing Clouds is also set to shut down to make way for planned development of flats and offices. Since this shocking announcement, the club’s owners have organised a march to save itself as a champion of “London’s live music scene”.

With speculation that the institution may be replaced with a luxury apartment complex, it seems as though the capital’s heritage is being buried to make way for private investments. Islington council has already faced many cuts under the austerity government and may face more with the closure of Fabric, which paid more taxes than a block of luxury condos is likely to pay. Yet again, the government have shown more concern with attracting foreign interest at the expense of white-washing London’s culture and protecting its public sector.

Having been to Fabric many times during my teenage years, I too am gutted with Islington borough council’s decision. Arguably boasting one of the best sound systems in London, Fabric was an exciting maze where I was granted the opportunity to see and hear some of the best DJs from around the world. Despite a growing influx of largely Mediterranean clubbers, Fabric always managed to maintain a certain gritty London atmosphere that I would encourage any visitor or native to London to experience. It would never be a mild or casual night out, but it always delivered to the expectations of drum and bass, and dubstep ravers on Fridays, and house and techno fans on a Saturday and Sunday. Fabric made me feel proud as a Londoner as it was internationally recognised on the same level as some of the top clubs in Berlin or Amsterdam.

London is an amazing city with a lot to offer. We have a leading arts scene, but our nightlife is slowly starting to let us down. With clubs shutting more rapidly than other clubs around Europe, we can sometimes be seen as a little tame, trailing behind in the footsteps of our fellow Europeans.

The new 24-hour tube throughout Friday and Saturday nights was celebrated by clubbers as an easy way to get home after a big night out. In the current whirlwind of club closures we are currently in, it seems that there will be increasingly less reason to use it.