Studio 54, the Manhattan hotbed of disco, drugs and top-notch debauchery was around for just 33 months. The Roxy – the Covent Garden venue that birthed punk in 1976 – had under a year and a half. Fabric, by contrast, was open for a whopping 17 years before Islington Council closed it earlier this month. In nightlife years, that makes it the Mary Berry of clubbing.
Of course, it’s heartbreaking when a venue of Fabric’s stature closes – I’m still not over The Astoria shutting up shop back in 2009 – but all hope is not lost. Yes, Fabric had an exceptionally long innings, but the end of that particular club doesn’t mean the end of partying, nor does it signal the death throes of subcultural creativity or getting off with fit art students. All of these beautiful, wonderful things are still within reach for those who know where to look…
Not only are there groups like the Music Venue Trust, which has set up the Emergency Response initiative seeking to stop more closures by funding legal advice for venues hit by planning, development, noise and licensing issues, but new venues are opening across the country. ‘The circle of life’ isn’t just a way to make you feel better about Simba’s dad dying in The Lion King – it applies to nightlife too.
In London, the old Barfly has just re-launched as the Camden Assembly; then there’s the all-new Kamio in Shoreditch and the 350-capacity Omeara opening in Borough next month. Even vicars are in on it; Father Tom Plant of St Michael’s Church in Camden – who’s a big fan of Nine Inch Nails, in case you’re wondering – has applied for an alcohol licence so he can turn his church into a live music venue. “We believe Jesus turned water into wine for a reason,” he’s said. Amen to that.
Other newly opened venues include The Smokehouse in Ipswich and Tramshed in Cardiff, while next week a club called Church will get the dry ice flowing in Leeds and a planning application has just been submitted to turn Liverpool’s old ABC cinema into a gig space. And that’s without mentioning the heaps of under-the-radar warehouse parties taking place every weekend.
We’re might have lost something important with Fabric, but let’s be thankful that we had it at all, and look forward to something even more amazing taking its place.