Cameron Heal
January 2017.

What does the re-opening of Fabric mean for the fight for London's nightlife?

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To answer this question, we should understand that Fabric represents a generation of underground music since it was opened in 1999 and is a cultural destination for young people around the world. The club played a crucial role in helping to nurture emerging dance music styles such as d&b, breakbeat, dubstep, house and techno with its forward-thinking booking policy and mix CDs

Fabric is a unique club of its size. There are a lot of small places where you can hear underground electronic music, but for a 2,500-capacity venue it’s rare to support up and coming DJs. For example  dubstep pioneers Caspa&Rusko  had their early gigs at Fabric before going to play all over the UK.  If the nightclub hadn’t given them an early break and a starting point in their careers, they might have not been where they are now. By foregrounding marginalised experimental music styles Fabric became a fore-runner of the city's creativity and earned the audience's trust.

Vibrancy of urban culture is the alchemy that makes London so original with places like Camden Town being one of the top London destinations for young people. In this way underground nightclubs play a role of melting pots of art and music scenes. However, today gentrification is taking place in many London boroughs including Islington where Fabric is based. It basically means that upper-or-middle-income families are buying and renovating deteriorated urban neighbourhoods. Living next to a noisy nightclub will frustrate anyone so the tension is rising between the nightlife industry and developers. With long-term fixed costs pressing it is hard to maintain a functional nightclub without the support of local authorities. For these reasons there is a general trend of London clubs shutting. Half of them shut down just in the last five years.  

There was a big debate about Fabric's responsibility in drug misuse. The drug-related deaths record is rising every year and the government must adopt an effective approach, but most people agree that isolating an iconic music venue is not a solution. The club always had the highest safety standards among London clubs. The #SaveFabric campaign was highly successful, its crowdfunding raised more than £300k. Numerous events were held as a part of the campaign and it got support from celebrities, musicians and politicians. There was a sense that if authorities can win the battle over Fabric, they can suppress the prominent London rave culture completely. Fabric's closure would be disastrous for the underground nightlife as it would lose one of the world's top electronic music promoters. It would consequently damage London's reputation of being on cutting edge in the music scene for both tourists and those investing in creative industries. 

The reopening of Fabric showed the authorities that London underground music culture is alive and kicking. It was proved by the number of supporters around the world and the amount of positive media coverage. Ironically, in the long run the closure made Fabric even more popular, bringing a whole new generation of people who want to check it out. 

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