Former Oasis manager and Creation Records boss Alan McGee has lent his support to the protestors currently occupying the 12 Bar Club on London’s Denmark Street.
The Soho venue was closed earlier this month, but has been occupied by a group calling themselves ‘Bohemians 4 Soho’, who re-opened the venue on Friday (January 23). McGee went to visit the venue yesterday (January 26) with a band he is currently working with, Alias Kid, who he called “little revolutionaries”. Speaking to NME, the founder of Creation Records and Poptones discussed the protestors aims, who he says are fighting against the current “war on culture” and also branded the closing down of small UK venues as a “social cleansing issue”.
He commented: “They were very on. They’ve got a manifesto and are highly intelligent kids. You never know when you walk in a building like that, and sometimes people can tell you to fuck off and leave them alone and can be really elitist, but these people were so charming and sweet that you really couldn’t say a bad word against any of them. And they know the law, so they can’t just be thrown out of there.”
Alias Kid played two acoustic songs in the venue, which McGee describes as “a shell of a venue. Whoever’s left the venue has kind of smashed it up a little bit, but it’s still the 12 Bar.”
McGee went to draw parallels between the occupation and the current situation in Greece, where anti-austerity party Syriza recently won the general election. “The ultimate drug is consumerism. That’s why what’s happening in Greece is amazing, an anti-austerity party getting into power. These people had nowhere left to go, I don’t think it was even a left-wing move. People were getting absolutely fucked, working for 500 Euros a month. There was 60% youth unemployment. It was ‘are we going to die on our knees or on our feet?’ situation.”
Since the Denmark Street location opened in 1994, the 12 Bar Club has been a key breaking ground for unsigned artists. The venue saw UK debuts from the likes of Jeff Buckley, Katie Melua, Keane, and Adele, as well as performances from The Libertines and Jamie T. Its closure follows that of Madame Jo-Jos and The Buffalo Bar, other London venues which have all recently shut their doors.
A spokesperson for the property developer Consolidated said in September 2014 of their plans for Denmark Street and the 12 Bar location: “We have a long-standing interest in Soho and are intent on working with the local community to preserve and enhance the heritage of Denmark Street and the surrounding area. As is the nature of redevelopment, change is inevitable, but it is hoped that in the long run this will be instrumental to a positive future for the area”.