London’s iconic Fabric has closed its doors for good, after 17 years of raving and good times. Some NME writers share their memories of the club.
VIBES AND PALS
The best thing about Fabric was the vibes. It was a place for mates – old mates and new mates – and having a truly excellent time. The first time I went there I was 23. My experience of ‘clubs’ before then had been pogoing to indie in the back room of a pub or the kind of cheesy “no trainers” places you went to when you were 18. I remember thinking it was like something out of a film.
I saw so many amazing DJs there over the years. Roni Size. DJ Marky. Andy C. That feeling of the bass hitting you when you walk through the doors is something I relive every time I hear Body Rock.
It’s hard to pick one amazing Fabric memory because it was everything combined that made it so special. The massive tunes. The epic chats you’d have with people in the smoking area. Getting lost, making new friends and the being overjoyed at bumping into your pals again. London’s lost something great. I’ve lost the place where I truly discovered the brilliance of dance music. We can build new clubs – and I really hope we do – but it’ll be hard to make any quite like Fabric.
PORT AND GARAGE
DJ EZ two and-a-bit years ago. Can’t remember who else was on. My girlfriend and I turned up drunk on port a couple of hours after our friends had arrived. You could hardly move on the stairs and there seemed to be 700 people at every bar. It was busy and people were on drugs, but it felt safe.
It took ages to find everyone, and when we did they were at that weird floaty stage between chatty and nonsensical. I remember sitting down and chatting to my friend Lauren about some scotch eggs she’d recently made with her boyfriend. They sounded quite nice and they had form, having made sausage rolls shortly before. Once that was finished we went in to see EZ. It felt a bit like being in a lift crammed with two rugby union teams playing garage from their mobile phones. Again, it was busy and people were on drugs, but it felt safe.
In the end, the lack of a beer, an impending port headache and the draining feeling of ‘it’s not gonna happen tonight’ meant I didn’t really enjoy it at all. But that’s not the point. There’s something about being crushed up against your best mates on a dancefloor that makes every club experience valuable, especially somewhere as popular and diverse as Fabric, a place designed for precisely that purpose and made world-famous by the extent to which it nailed its brief. I’ve always liked the idea of the range of emotions people grouped under one roof experience on a night out, and that was definitely tangible at Fabric that night. Really, it was a privilege even to go there.
LEGENDS AND BEING LOST
The first time I went to Fabric I got lost. And the second time. And the third time. And so on, and so on. A spiralling maze, not helped by everyone’s altered states of consciousness, you’d open a door you that looked like it lead to a broom cupboard and be catapulted into the main room, beefy bass shuddering through your entire being, sweaty bodies pressing up against you and good – if not slightly intense – vibes all ‘round.
One of my first Fabrics involved going to see the late, legendary John Peel playing a special set up in Room 3 when I was in my final year of sixth form back in 2002. It was far from your typical Fabric set. There was no mixing. There were silences between tracks. He finished his set with a ragged punk song from 1978 (‘Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones of course, the lyrics of which would end up on the Radio 1 DJ’s headstone after he died two years later). But the feeling in the room was totally Fabric – people were having fun, lots of it. Grinning, dancing, being more than a bit silly. We chanted his name. We made an attempt at moshing. We spoke to strangers. We sweated buckets. Sure, it was a touch unconventional, but that’s what Fabric was all about, and how it will be remembered.