Iconic London Music Venue Fabric to Close Permanently.
Just after midnight on the 7th of September 2016, one of the world’s most iconic music venues closed it’s doors for what appears to be the last time. Islington council ruled that fabric had failed to meet their licensing agreements, due to the tragic, accidental deaths of two young people in the club 28 days ago. Despite upholding an exceptional safety record in comparison to a number of other clubs and venues across the country, the club will remain closed indefinitely. A number of DJs and artists have rallied around to support London’s most famous dance music venue including, Om Unit, Bok Bok and DJ Hype, who used to run his immensely successful True Playaz events there.
This decision has far more significance than you think. I’m 35. Not quite old enough to remember the original days of warehouse raves and the legendary Castle Morton event, but not young enough to see Fabric as the pinnacle of rave culture, either. Having watched the smoking ban come in to effect, seen a super-fence built around Glastonbury and witnessed the use of sniffer dogs and strip searches at festivals, I think it would be reasonable to say that promoters and venues have been doing as much as they possibly can to ensure the safety of their customers for over a decade. Fabric was well known for having extremely professional security and a network of 250 staff, who will now, sadly lose their jobs. Cameron Lesley, co-founder of the club, explained “The notion that we provide a safe haven for drugs is frankly insulting to the considerable efforts we have put in over the years.” In his speech to the council he also mentioned that his partner Keith Reilly was forced to leave his home for a month because he refused to submit to threats from organised crime gangs who wanted to sell drugs on the premises. Citing his first meeting with the metropolitan police in 1999, Lesley explained that they have operated a detailed, transparent policy of cooperation with the police since the venue opened, pushing for prosecutions, rather than dealing with suspected drug dealers “in house” as many venues still do.
To close one of the world’s most important music venues because of a problem that is endemic in society is a huge mistake and will tear the heart out of London’s already heavily restricted nightlife. One of the main things that destroyed the original rave scene was criminality. Drug dealers who didn’t care about the music took control of the scene and it became violent and dangerous. Unfortunately, they were never the real target of police operations as the rave organisers and attendees bore the brunt of the crackdown. The criminal justice bill and the government of the time sent a clear message to those who enjoyed dancing to “repetitive beats.” The legislation itself was littered with specific details that clearly only applied to certain types of musical event and John Major’s speech in the house of commons highlighted the establishment’s opinion of rave culture very clearly. “Not in this age, not in any age.”
In a similar way, today’s announcement that fabric will close seems like Islington council and the metropolitan police are sending a message to the rest of the country. Zero tolerance of not only drugs, but the music and culture that defines several generations. Our music and our culture is who we are and by refusing to enter in to a sensible dialogue about drugs, clubbing and nightlife in general, the establishment have alienated themselves even further from a generation of people who lost faith in them years ago. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already expressed his disappointment at the decision and allegations that the police’s “Operation Lenor” (yes, the “Fabric” softener) had been planned for quite some time means there could be much more to this than a couple of dodgy pills.