Anyone visiting the UK capital and hoping for a chance to get into their groove in one of London’s many respected nightclubs is in for a crashing disappointment.
Not that long ago, the city boasted some of the best clubs in the world. Varying in all shapes and sizes and playing every type of music you could possibly ask for, come Friday or Saturday night, or both, a variety of options was on offer to the serious clubber. The hard house generation was spoilt for choice.
Big name DJs would come and play to sell out crowds at venues that might have looked to those not into the scene like dark, dingy, hangouts, but in fact were rooms full of people who would practically erupt with excitement when a great track was played.
Fat Boy Slim might bring the house down at Turnmills, Sasha could set the room on fire at Fabric and Frankie Knuckles would blow the roof off The End. The drugs were mostly clean, the quality of music was high and no one was suspicious of anyone wanting to do anything else except have a good time.
That was over 10 years ago.
Transition is unavoidable granted, but over just a few years, the crowd seemed to change. The mood was different. Once upon a time you could offer your bottle of water to the person dancing next to you and they’d gratefully accept the refreshment. If you did that now, chances are that person would look at you like you’d just murdered their parents in front of them and walk off in disgust.
Ecstasy was replaced by Ketamine as many people’s drug of choice, and some were even mixing GHB and Rohypnol into their drinks and then offering them to other unsuspecting clubbers. The euphoric innocence of getting high and dancing to good music with other friendly, happy people was lost forever.
But it wasn’t just the attitude towards drugs that was changing; the clubs themselves seemed to be going through a transformation. Big name venues opened and then closed not long after – does anyone remember Home in Leicester Square? Fabric used to have queues stretching around the block for the first few years after it opened in 1999, then went through a pretty bad patch only to pick up again a few years ago.
Turnmills, arguably the best venue in London and the home of hard house, closed in 2008 and left a gaping hole in the club scene. Legendary names like Danny Howells, Roger Sanchez and Renato Cohen would regularly leave the crowd hungry for more, even after eight hours of solid dancing.
Next to go was The End a year later.
Then the owners of Fabric – the original superclub – opened an even bigger venue as part of the O2, called Matter. This drew some of the big names back to London again, and although it didn’t have quite the same level of intimacy as venues like Turnmills or The End, instead having huge numbers in huge rooms, it wasn’t at all bad. Yes, it was a nightmare to get anywhere north of the Thames at 7am with heavy-hanging limbs and a head that won’t stop spinning, but for true disciples of disco, it was worth it.
And now the sunshine is again upon the UK and even the occasional clubbers dust off their dancing shoes, Matter has declared it will be closed for the summer months. Its listing pages no longer contain any news of any forthcoming events.
Added to which, news was announced only a few days ago that Fabric has gone into administration.
The leisure and hospitality company that owns Fabric told a trade publication, “Just 24 hours after being appointed, we have already received a number of inquiries from potential purchasers.
“We anticipate continued interest in the sale of Fabric, particularly from other major club operators in London and the south east, and we are confident that a purchase will be secured for the business as a going concern.”
Which leaves Ministry of Sound the only big dance floor venue in all of London. But even that’s not entirely safe. The clubbing hotspot’s future is hanging in the balance after a property developer’s proposal to build a block of flats opposite the venue.
There’s an online petition to save the Ministry of Sound here.
So, that’s it then. Reputable DJs are now playing in venues in Manchester and the only way to check listings is to visit each individual DJs own website…and gaze in envy as you scroll down to see what other cities around the world are getting a chance to hear those great tracks.
Meanwhile, clubbers in London are faced with a bleak future. Smaller, lesser known venues means a higher risk of a hit-or-miss night, which is not what those flocking to the nation’s capital had in mind when they wanted to lose themselves for a night in a feel-good place listening to uplifting music.
UPDATE: Since running this feature back in June, we’ve now learned that four or so uncertain weeks later, Fabric has in fact been saved.
PricewaterhouseCoopers partner David Chubb handled the deal, and said he was pleased the venue had been saved.
“Through the sale of the business, the jobs of more than 100 people will be saved,” he said. “We kept the club open during the administration and this would not have been possible without loyal employees, clientele and suppliers.”
Fabric is now owned by Fabric Life, a group that formed on 30 May, around the time the venue entered administration.