Another brick in the wall of death. To nightlife. To culture. To creativity. To unity. To community. Fabric’s closure this week by Islington council, is another poor choice by people who clearly don’t understand the main issue they’re confronted by.
My heart goes out to every single person who’s lost a loved one to an overdose, accidental or otherwise. I can only imagine your pain. The dark sleepless nights questioning if you could have done things differently. If you’d just talked more, then maybe it would have been different. And the rage. The deepest, darkest rage exploding from a place you didn’t even know existed. Closely followed by the tears, and sobbing that seem like they’ll never end.
As a 34 year old, I had drugs awareness classes from the age of 15. My classmates and I knew people died from taking ecstasy in the 90s. People at my school were dying before they were 18 from heroin overdoses. And colleagues in the music industry were having fatal heart attacks from massive amounts of cocaine before they were even 40. And i’m not even touching on the people I know who’ve taken their own lives while high, or on a come down.
We know this happens. So if we know this happens why don’t we do something about it? We choose to think that it won’t happen to us. Plus for most people there are little to no consequences in the short term. Which reinforces the fact that it won’t be us who ends up in the back of an ambulance, covered in a white sheet.
Closing a venue does not tackle the issue. How do I know that? Well here it is in it’s most basic form. Let’s say a club closes at 3am in the UK. If people want to take drugs what do they do? They go on to another party at someone’s house or another place. The club is now shut. They’re still taking drugs.
“Ah!” say the authorities. “What about the people who only went to the venue to buy and consume drugs?”
I understand the point of this argument. If we shut the venue. No one can buy, or sell drugs. Which means no one will die. Which means we’ve solved the problem. But, of course you haven’t and you don’t. It’s like that fairground game wack-a-mole. You might have just bashed a little furry cretin on the head, but he’ll pop up somewhere else again pretty quickly.
If someone wants to take drugs, then they’ll find them. Life constantly presents us with opportunities. Why would drug consumption be any different?
For me, drugs are a huge topic that need a bigger discussion here in the UK. But the Fabric situation isn’t just about poisoned pills and dodgy powders.
It’s about having places to express creativity. Places to practice a craft. Spaces to join, and form community. Yes it’s about nightlife, and yes it’s about creating a party & having a good time. But there is so much more to it.
It’s 10am on a Saturday morning as I type this with heavy eyes. I was behind the decks ‘till 2am this morning. That’s been a pretty regular thing for me for many years now. It’s a great privilege. I like seeing people have fun, while they dance and sing to their favourite tunes. But I, like so many other people (including many who’ve had much more success than i’ve had) needed clubs and venues to hone our skills. To discover how you create the atmosphere for people to enjoy themselves. To develop the confidence to go on to bigger and better things.
Where do young djs, producers and artists go to find that now? Where do they get the opportunities if we keep closing venues? London alone has seen 50% of it’s clubs closed in the last 8 years. Live venues are down by 40% in the same period. The figures are just as bleak right across the UK.
London wants to become a 24 hour city, but believe me we’re a long way off. And closing venues puts us even further behind. Go to New York. Go to Tokyo. See how they’re doing 24 hour culture. It’s pretty incredible. We’re not even close. If we want to become the cultural hub that the world wants to visit, then London needs to act like it. The decision made by Islington council is far from forward thinking, or visionary. It’s backwards and outdated.
My other fear is more personal. I live just over a mile away from the site of Fabric. The one thing my neighbours and I are sure of, is that we don’t need more rabbit hutches for bankers. Studio flats starting at £600,000. Let’s fill the other ones first!
As I snake through Smithfield Market, and pass the doors of Fabric tonight, i’ll think of that disgusting sound system that made my chest cavity vibrate like nothing i’d felt before. That deafened the dance floor ‘till dawn, week in, week out, for so many glorious years. And hope for a miracle. Or it’s all been a huge mistake.