Over the past few years much has been made about the fact that nightclubs and venues have been closing across the UK at worrying rate.
In 2005 there were 3,144 clubs across the UK, a number which dropped to just 1,733 by last year. As someone who spent far too many – or maybe just the perfect amount – of evenings and early mornings in clubs across London as a slightly wayward teenager, it’s scary to think about the loss of places where young people can come together and try out everything from new hairstyles to new sexualities.
Yet there is hope. Though clubs with names like the Gossips, The End, Ghetto, Metros and Turnmills might not be there anymore, people are trying to turn the tide by opening up new venues; spaces where people can feel a little bit freer, a little bit safer, and sure, a little bit drunker. One of those new venues is being helmed by Ben Lovett, keyboard player in Mumford & Sons. Named Omeara, the new venue will be setting up shop in Flat Iron Square in Borough, just south of London Bridge.
As someone who honed his trade in the clubs and bars of the capital, the venture means a lot to him. “Over the last few years, London has lost so many of its brilliant music establishments and I want to do what I can to try and reverse that decline,” says Ben. And he’s got backing from the top too. Sadiq Khan, the kind of newish Mayor Of London is committed to saving London’s nightlife and is making sure that London’s creative sector is protected as part of his actually rather lovely #Londonisopen campaign.
“Growing London’s cultural sector is one of my core priorities, and this includes supporting grassroots music venues,” explains Sadiq. “These venues, which are the lifeblood of our music scene, are often under threat, so I’m delighted to see Ben Lovett opening an exciting new destination for live music fans.” It seems like Sadiq’s keen to develop London’s nightlife, not just to help drive more business to the city, but because he knows that during the wee small hours is when artsy types tend to do their best work – when they’ve shaken off the shackles of their day job and can finally get to band practice, or work on editing their independent movie, or get to that drag show they’re currently back-combing their neon pink wig for. “This type of initiative is exactly what the capital needs, especially at this time when I want to show that #Londonisopen to creative entrepreneurs like Ben, who are underlining London’s reputation as one of the best 24-hour cities in the world,” adds Sadiq.
Now here’s to Sadiq’s vision trickling through the rest of the country – because the creative lifeblood of the country certainly doesn’t just flow through London.