London is getting clubbed to death

It’s been announced that Dance Tunnel, the venue located under Voodoo Ray’s pizza in London, is closing its doors this August due to the current licencing climate in the capital. The owners have said that they want to move to a different location, but that they’ve had to move is symptomatic of the increasingly hostile environment inner London is becoming to smaller venues, due to pressure from larger developments. Earlier in the year, a petition had to be started to save the Bussey Building from developers, a similar operation is happening across the street from Dance Tunnel, called ‘Vibe’. The video promoting it showing young people enjoying all the culture in and around Hackney.

There’s a danger it’ll stifle it to sterility, until it’s only the neo-yuppies that can afford to do anything and a can of Red Stripe is £6

The hypocrisy of this is obvious and highlights that fact that London is eating itself. Although it’s good to hear that Dance Tunnel is moving, it’s sad that it’s have to. Hailed for its varied and quality bookings, mid-sized venues like Dance Tunnel are becoming rarer. Multi-room and smaller club venues are becoming the safest financially, and the most common. These spaces aren’t bad, it’s just good to have variation.

The loss of the venue prompted Four Tet to ask for investors to come forward to save the venue – it’s more to do with the priorities of local authorities in the boroughs. Fabric, an institution, last year was threatened with closure due to a series of drug-related deaths. People shouldn’t die at clubs but closing those places so that they go somewhere outside licensing regulations also wouldn’t be great.

The familiar problem of prioritising abstracted fiscal gain over more growth that make people happy, promises to ruin everywhere it touches culturally

It is good to have a healthy renewal of clubs. The Venue, in its 26th year, should have, by now, been left to die quietly. This death-and-renewal process, however, is not at play here. The scene is under acute pressure to diversify in the face of bureaucratic barriers. The emergence of smaller venues like the ones that exist in pub spaces are a way of running nights indefinitely without a lot of financial risk, but, the scene can’t rely on this. The emergence of new staples in the club scene is required.

But this is not just a London problem; it is just the most intense there. The future of the club scene in the UK as a whole is in question as half of its nightclubs have closed in the last 10 years.  The familiar problem of prioritising abstracted fiscal gain over more growth that make people happy promises to ruin everywhere it touches culturally. That is until ‘culture’ becomes an estate agent buzz word with no real referent.

This is in no way the end, or the beginning of the end of the clubbing scene, the people won’t let that happen, but it is a sign that London and its Local Authorities have their priorities out of whack. I can’t even live in the city I grew up in.

This pressure from Local Authorities, noise complaints and draconian licensing laws, won’t kill the scene, but there’s a danger it’ll stifle it to sterility, until it’s only the neo-yuppies that can afford to do anything and a can of Red Stripe is £6. A wasteland. A true dystopia.

Luke Acton 

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