A leader of after-hours partying could solve the capital’s nightlife problem and stop hotspots closing – but is it too late?
The past few years have been a bludgeon to the face and heart of London’s nightlife. One by one, venues have fallen. From Joiners Arms in Hackney, to Vibe Bar and Madame Jojo’s, to more recently, Plastic People, they’ve been closed as a clear result of rising rents, gentrification, council crackdowns on noise and booze and fun, and a general disregard for the importance of going out - economically, socially and for minorities to have a safe space to meet and socialise. It’s getting to a point of no return – clubbing is getting stagnant and venue closing times creep ever closer to the end of work.
We need a hero. Someone like Mayor Boris Johnson but in absolutely no way Boris Johnson. Thankfully, he’s realised this himself and his Music Venues Taskforce have put together a “rescue plan” that involves the possibility, among other things, of electing a “night time economy champion”. So, like, a Night Mayor.
This new role would have the important job of building relations between venues, police and the council to deal with small problems before they escalate. And, as we’ve seen, blow up resulting in another closure.
This super plan also recommends supporting Agent of Of Change principles, which would give power back to venues when a developer puts their business at risk. The principles, which have proved successful in Australia and Canada, would put the onus on developers to mitigate against future problems, for example over noise complaints by arranging for better soundproofing. We’ve actually seen this work already - this was used successfully when Ministry of Sound feared being shut down due to potential complaints from residents in a newly built apartment block.
So much damage has been done so far that this is coming a little late. London has lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues since 2007, according to the report, and the number of spaces programming new artists has dropped from 136 to 88. But too late? That depends on the effectiveness for this plan to be put into practice. And our Night Mayor needs to be someone who actually understands the importance of clubbing and knows and loves the London nightlife landscape to fill this role. Any volunteers, guys?