Following a revoked business license, one of United Kingdom’s most popular nightclubs was forced to shut its doors. Islington Council, the local authority and city council for the Islington borough in Greater London, decided to shut down the venue after a series of drug-related deaths there earlier in the year. Two male 18-year-old, male patrons died between June 25 and Aug. 6 after consuming drugs while at the club. Following a 28-day license suspension,Metropolitan Police along with the Council stated that keeping Fabric open would cause further drug-related deaths. This particular scenario brings up the question of safety and drug tolerance in music venues and clubs around the world.
On Sept. 7, Scotland Yard, headquarters for the English Metropolitan Police Force, confirmed the decision to permanently close the famous super-club. In documents provided to the Council at the hearing for the closure earlier in the week, superintendent Stuart Ryan wrote:
“If the premises is permitted to remain open and operating in its current form, then there is a strong possibility that further-drug related deaths will occur.”
In reaching its decision this past week, The Islington Council provided proof that “inadequately searched” partygoers were entering the club,and staff knowledge and intervention was “grossly inadequate” considering the level of open drug use.
An online campaign for ensuring its reopening has gained worldwide traction, including the attention of many famous artists and DJs who had played there in the past. On Sept. 6, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, issued a public statement that backed this petition.
“London’s iconic clubs are an essential part of our cultural landscape,” Khan said. “As Mayor, I’m determined to do more to protect them, as well as our theatres, live music venues, artists workspaces, historic buildings and pubs. It is so important that people are able to enjoy a fun and safe night out in the capital.”
On Sept. 8, a spokeswoman for the venue confirmed that it will appeal the Council’s decision. The fierce criticism by both politicians and musicians made it clear that closing Fabric is not the solution to ending the problem of finding safety in clubs.
Fabric is the biggest casualty yet of a trend with many causes but one undeniable effect: Although the global popularity of electronic dance music rises, London’s clubs are disappearing at an astonishing rate. According to figures released in early August by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the number of licensed clubs fell from 3,144 in 2005 to 1,733 in 2015, and this decrease has taken a toll on the city’s nightlife.
Being safe in clubs and music venues is an issue all around the world, and London would set a great example for other metropolitan areas if Islington Council is able to come to an agreement with the owners of Fabric and the Metropolitan police. Anyone who has spent a fun night at a music venue knows how essential a vibrant nightlife is to a city. Safe music clubs offer a space for concert-goers to become a community and find a sense of collective happiness. Music venues provide the opportunity to make friends, connect with others and have a good time, but this won’t be the case if they are unsafe spaces.