Music, hypnotising atmosphere, imperfect friends, and of course, drugs. These are the main components of a checklist for party animals. London has been a party hub for many decades. Its many clubs and bars attract anyone of the legal age. But what is the dark side to it all? Drugs. Lots of drugs.
But maybe not for that much longer: London’s most famous electronic dance club Fabric was shut down due to the deaths of two 19 year olds. Cause? Ecstasy. A shock wave followed the clubs’ followers and music lovers across the UK. After several petitions, online campaigns and letters, the club is reopening its alluring doors to Londoners once again.
It took Fabric a 155 page document consisting of 32 new conditions to convince the court and Islington council to reopen. The rules include banning entry to anyone under the age of 19 on main nights with implemented ID scanners. Lifetime bans for anyone caught using or asking for drugs. More intense CCTV monitoring. And much more. But will these rules really prevent drug use in the club. Can the club be saved long term?
Christopher Roe, the Media Manager of Islington Council backed up Fabrics’ request to reopen. Answering to what its’ new ‘Zero Tolerance to Drugs rule’ was, he referred to the joint statement with Fabric. The statement says that Fabric is committed to do whatever it takes to ensure no more of its clubbers come to ‘drug-related harm’. “Fabric’s directors and senior management understand precisely what has to be done to ensure that Fabric is a safe environment for young clubbers, and that Zero Tolerance to Drugs means precisely that.”
But will rules such as these help stop drug use during nightlife across London?
Dr. Robert Ralphs, a criminologist at Manchester Metropolitan University disagrees. He even thinks the rules will increase the consumption of illegal substances. “The new restrictions in Fabric club concerning security checks is actually a negative thing – it will most likely lead to people loading drugs before they go in and can cause greater damage”, he commented. For him, the problem is not just ecstasy. “It is very rare that someone will die of ecstasy. Someone would have to usually combine three or four substances together, specially alcohol, which could lead to serious health issue”.
While experts questioned the extent of drug use in London, Fabric was launching petitions online to save itself. Social media played a major role in saving the club. Instead of its struggle with drugs, it focused on Fabric promoting music culture. After the incident, Fabric came up with a campaign to save the club on their website called #savefabric. It strongly appealed to its lovers to save their ‘culture’ of music and nightlife. The #savefabric campaign website opens with a crisp, strong and to the point statement: “We are Fabric. This is not how it ends. This is about more than Fabric – an entire way of life is under threat.”
What exactly is the way of life that they speak of? Fabric is known for featuring well known DJs and great music. What it did not represent, like any other bar or club, is the drug culture that exists in our society today.
Publications across London such as Mixmag, a British electronic dance and clubbing magazine, aim to support clubbing and arts venue across the city. Jeremy Abbott, the deputy digital editor of Mixmag, showed unyielding support towards the reopening of the club. “Fabric represents great culture and music. I am glad the campaign was successful and it is reopening its doors again to the people.” On a more personal level, he has always enjoyed going to Fabric because it simple offers “the best of music and vibes out there”.
There is a thin line between clubbing and drugs in the streets of London and not everybody is happy about the reopening of Fabric. Megan, a university student commented: “I don’t think it is right for Fabric to reopen just based on new CCTV and strict age rules. How will this affect people who use drugs? They will keep doing it anyway”. Max, a self proclaimed party animal in his twenties and a frequent visitor of the club seemed excited at the news of Fabric reopening. “That’s great news! I love Fabric because it offers the perfect vibes, music and atmosphere for a great night out. It should not stay closed just because some people don’t party safe.”
With the contradicting views on its reopening, Fabric authorities refused to comment on the situation. Instead they stated they are quite “busy preparing for the club to reopen in January”. The club is aiming to run for three-night weekend on New Year’s featuring DJs such as Craig Richards and Terry Francis.
Fabrics’ new rules and restrictions may change the way bars and clubs run across the city. It could change the face of London’s nightlife.