The decision to close the city’s iconic nightclub is utterly senseless, marks a total lack of understanding about culture and highlights a simple need for sensible drug policy in clubs
In the early hours of the morning, Islington Council opted to revoke Fabric’s license, a decision that it insists was made after two teenagers tragically died inside the club after taking drugs. During the hearing, councillors mused over whether setting a limit on BPM would make the club safer, a stomach-churning insight into the council’s lack of knowledge when it comes to clubs, drugs and dancing. Sniffer dogs were mentioned as a potential ruse to make clubbing safer, as if seeing a trained animal at the club with a sense of smell 5,000 times more powerful than a human’s wouldn’t make a nervous, young clubber take all their drugs at once.
Let’s just get this out of the way: a lot of people on this planet like taking drugs. Some of them like taking drugs and going clubbing. Shutting down Fabric will not stop people taking drugs, they’ll just take them somewhere else – in their small, increasingly expensive Zone 2 flat, at festivals, in other countries, in hotels or in different clubs. Here, the Met’s “war on drugs” (as with many) is a senseless one as it neglects to consider a key tenet of human existence – a lot of people like getting fucked up and will continue to do so, no matter how many clubs you knock down.
If Fabric’s closure is about safety, why push people into smaller groups, in less monitored situations, to do exactly the same thing? Fabric – in my experience – ensured punters were thoroughly searched and deployed a heavy security presence, actually more than I’d like at a club. It certainly didn’t encourage or “allow” the consumption of drugs. It’s horrible that two 18-year-olds died, but it could have happened anywhere. Singling out Fabric as a totemic haven for dangerous, illicit behaviour is nonsensical – just take yourself to the toilet of most West London clubs and I don’t think you’d be likely to come away believing that it’s only Dom Perignon that’s getting necked.
More will die until a sensible drug policy is introduced. People need educating on how to take drugs responsibly, rather than the authorities naively believing that simply closing buildings will mean that those inclined to do so will just stop there and then. Warehouse Project in Manchester trialled testing onsite in 2013 and Canadian festival Shambhala long ago implemented a drug testing policy, lauded by harm reduction advocates across the world.
There is an irony about the timing of Fabric’s closure, just after newly-elected London mayor Sadiq Khan put a call out for night czar (Remember that? we all nominated our mates!) and opened the 24-hour tube service. While the night tube is an invaluable service for shift workers like security guards, nurses and those who work... at clubs, is it not for also for those experiencing the “world renowned nighttime economy” that Scotland Yard so lovingly describes?
Whether the club wants to be or not, its closure is emblematic of London’s current identity crisis. Is the city destined to become a playground for the rich who want to Dubai-ify, build high into the sky and tell everyone to keep it down, or does it want to be the vibrant metropolis it boasts about being, the one with the iconic club scene, the one that never sleeps? London’s establishment is sleeping right now and failing to realise that its nightlife, its youth and its clubs are not an option, not disposable, but part of its fabric.