Akika says: In closure, Fabric’s legacy is strong

By Geisha Bar

Last week, world famous Fabric nightclub in London was closed permanently. First appearances would lead you to believe that this establishment was closed due to well-intentioned concerns for public safety following the drug-related deaths of two people who had attended the club this year.

The truth, however, is much more complex.

The proceedings of the six hours’ meeting with Islington City Council, Night Time Industries Association and Fabric provides rare insight into why, exactly, there is an ongoing and rampant closure of nightclubs across London.

Fabric was widely regarded as a leading light in carrying out strict policies following a licensing review in 2014 after four deaths in three and a half years (only one due to drugs sold inside the venue). However, the 2014 review was the first point of the latest review. Hadn’t that been dealt with already?

Then, the questionable ‘Operation Lenor’ came to light (no coincidence that Lenor is the name of a fabric softner in the UK). This operation had undercover policemen visit the club in July this year to ensure adherence to licensing regulations. This is routine. The fact that it was given its own operation name? Unusual. The witness reports from the undercover police read like half-hearted attempts to find something – anything – to report. They found no hard evidence of drug consumption inside the venue. What happened to ‘innocent till proven guilty’?

Things get more dubious with digging.

There have been massive budget cuts to the Islington council (in 2016 they will lose up to 17 million pounds). Partly funded by the council, the police will also be affected, losing up to 44% of staff (252 officers). Where Fabric and its surrounding nighttime economy pay noticeable tax, unfortunately that never made its way to the council or the police in the area. The same type of closure has befallen other London nightclubs, whilst simultaneously there has been a noticeable increase in corporate development and building projects. Farringdon Station’s current entrance is 320 metres to the west of Fabric. A massive underground and aboveground expansion has been approved. The new entrance will be 80 metres to the east of Fabric. Maths says that Fabric never stood a chance.

Under the deafening roar of the social media mob, important things have been overlooked. While it is understandable to lash out at the council and the police, we need to consider the savage cuts and losses both are going through. Fabric received much personal support from council members and indeed the London mayor. Even the police witness reports couldn’t help but mention that the club was “friendly and non-threatening” with a “diverse demographic”.

Looking at the closure of the treasured icon, one thought gives me hope. Victor Hugo wrote “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come”. Perhaps Fabric’s closure will inspire people all over the world to stand up and protect music in the face of cold hard money. With the likes of Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and Andy C all adding their voices to the campaign — I believe we have some powerful allies for the days that lay ahead.