Death by a thousand cuts: Austerity and London nightlife
Angus Finlayson thinks critically about the state of London nightlife and the many different incidents that have culminated to the closure (and hopeful appeal) of fabric nightclub. Sensible drug policy and cooperation with the police may not be the only things that need to change...This article originally appeared on Resident Advisor
"The police aren't the enemy here," says Dan Beaumont, owner of Dalston Superstore and formerly of Dance Tunnel.
"They are doing what they can, within their means, and responding to the pressures they're facing from above." We're discussing an idea that upends the popular theories behind the recent closure of Dance Tunnel, fabric and other London venues. Rather than a scene decimated by greedy property developers or the inexorable march of gentrification, key nightlife figures in the city are just as likely to blame the current crisis on a less obvious, but no less malignant force.
On Sunday, August 7th, fabric closed its doors for possibly the last time. The morning before, an 18 year-old clubgoer, Jack Crossley, had collapsed and died outside the club. Another 18-year-old, Ryan Browne, had died in hospital after a visit to fabric less than two months earlier. As a result of the deaths, Islington police made a recommendation to Islington council that the club's license be reviewed. On Friday, August 12th, the license was suspended as an interim step.
In the run-up to the licensing review on Tuesday, September 6th, a petition in support of the club attracted more than 140,000 signatures, but it was no use. After a six-hour hearing including evidence from the Metropolitan Police, fabric director Cameron Leslie and other representatives of London nightlife, the licensing committee's three councillors decided to revoke the club's license permanently. "A culture of drugs exists at the club which the existing management and security appear incapable of controlling," said sub-committee chair Flora Williamson. "This sub-committee has considered adding further conditions, but has come to the conclusion that this would not address the serious concern that they have with management of the premises."
The closure shocked the global dance music community and made national and international news. Fabric's campaign to fund its appeal of the decision has, at time of writing, raised over £250k in donations. This enormous response isn't only down to the club's reputation. Coming after a wave of panic over the demise of UK music venues, the closure has caused another round of soul-searching. How could such an iconic, long-standing venue simply close overnight?