London has lost another major clubbing venue with the news that Islington Council is revoking the license of 2,500-capacity super club, Fabric.
The Clerkenwell club – one of the most well-known in the UK – has been closed for the past few weeks following the deaths of two teenage clubbers from drug-related deaths at the venue.
Although not a LGBTI venue, the club has hosted several leading gay club promotions during its 17-year history, including DTPM in the 90s and 00s.
Two teenagers died in late June and early August after taking MDMA (ecstasy) at the club. This led to the venue being temporarily closed pending a license review.
Since the club’s closure in August, almost 150,000 people have signed a petition calling for the venue to be saved.
However, at a licensing hearing yesterday evening at Islington Town Hall – which ran on to the early hours of this morning – Islington Council said it was revoking the club’s license, effectively forcing its closure.
The Met police had objected to the club retaining its license, with superintendent Stuart Ryan writing in submitted documents to the council: ‘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.’
The council’s full decision can be read here.
Within it, it notes ‘People entering the club were inadequately searched’ and ‘Staff intervention and security was grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence that it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs.’
Mixmag reported on key moments from the hearing, which included the committee chair asking club representatives if the space would be safer if it banned music with a high BPM.
‘The notion of Fabric being a safe haven for drugs is frankly insulting’
This is the second time in two years that a license review has been undertaken, following other drug-related deaths associated with the venue.
A Met police spokesperson said it supported the council’s decision to revoke the license.
‘We support this decision made by Islington council’s licensing committee.
‘London has a world renowned nighttime economy and people should be able to enjoy it safely, without concerns of serious crime. The Met is committed to working in partnership with those responsible for this sector to ensure that this happens.’
It is not yet known if the club’s owners, but co-founder Co-founder Cameron Leslie has said an appeal is unlikely, reported the Islington Gazette.
Leslie refuted the notion that the venue didn’t take it’s security procedures seriously.
‘The notion of Fabric being a safe haven for drugs is frankly insulting.
‘We established a pioneering confiscation procedure. We take suspected drug dealers to a monitoring room and they are arrested.
‘My partner Keith Reilly stood up to organized crime when Fabric opened in 1999 [to prevent gangs selling drugs in the club]. He was forced to wear a bulletproof vest for a month. We take our responsibilities very seriously.’
Jacob Husley, who launched the petition to save the venue and has worked at the venue for the past eight years, told the Guardian: ‘We are in shock. I am feeling a mixture of disbelief and anger and sadness … It would be a devastating blow for London and culture, and clubs across the UK.’
‘This is an especially sad day … particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs’
In an official statement following the ruling, the club said, ‘Fabric is extremely disappointed with Islington Council’s decision to revoke our license.
‘This is an especially sad day for those who have supported us, particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs.
‘Closing fabric is not the answer to the drug-related problems clubs like ours are working to prevent, and sets a troubling precedent for the future of London’s night time economy.’
Many other figures from the world of London clubbing have expressed shock and disappointment at the decision.
DJ Nick Tcherniak, who played at DTPM and MarketeEC1 described himself as ‘shocked’ at the decision on Facebook: ‘Thinking about those effected by the course of events of the passed few weeks and by the decision made tonight. Fabric, London won’t be the same without you.’
‘A very sad day for London indeed!’
‘I think it’s shocking that fabric has been singled out like this,’ said Lee Freeman, promoter of DTPM. ‘In all my years I’ve seen very few venues run so well.
‘When DTPM moved to fabric, I received constant complaints about how heavy the security were: suddenly it has been decided that they don’t do enough.
‘What needs to happen is a change of direction. Young people will experiment with drugs either in clubs or elsewhere – education, advice and drug testing is what’s required, not driving it underground. Few clubs would go to the extent that Fabric do to provide a safe environment for clubbers.’
‘It is tragic that people have lost their lives and my heart goes out to the families and those around them who are affected. However, I don’t think this is the answer. A very sad day for London indeed!’
The closure of Fabric follows the passing of several other venues in central London, leaving the capital with a dearth of high-capacity club spaces. These include: The Astoria, The End, Turnmills, Bagley’s, Area, SE1, Club Coloseum and the Renaissance Rooms.
So 150,000 voices can’t even be heard. We had no chance. #fabricreview
— Friction (@friction) September 7, 2016
Devastating news for London, club life and culture as a whole 💔
— Breakage (@Breakage) September 7, 2016