Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

RIP: Clubbing

That seems a spectacular own goal by the London licencing authorities - just as London becomes an all-night city (well, at weekends anyway for now) by the introduction of all-night underground trains they go and close the main London club for clubbers and night owls, so its RIP to renowned superclub Fabric, following all those other clubs and music venues that have closed here in the last decade or so.

I had not been to Fabric - having more or less retired from clubbing a decade or so ago, but knew and frequented others, both gay and straight, then, in London and Brighton: The End, Crash, Action, Substation in Brixton and Soho (those clubs run by Wayne Shires and Patrick Lilley), Club Colosseum, Turnmills etc. all gone now too, as well as havens like The Shadow Lounge and  Madame JoJo's in Soho. The Astoria (G-A-Y and Falconburg Court) have been demolished for the new Crossrail line, At least we still have Heaven (G-A-Y).

Soho in fact is in danger of being swept away by gentrification too. The Yard, a super gay venue, with an open courtyard and outdoor area, right in Wardour Street, has just successfully fought off another round of developers wanting to close the open space and build more luxury flats. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (see below) at least got listed status to keep it as an entertainment and musical venue. Over the past decade over 40% of London's club;s and live music venues have closed, leaving the city a quieter and less exciting place. We do not all want to trek out to the O2 for some over-priced concert. So who is next?

Of course it is beyond tragic that two clubbers at Fabric either bought or got drugs there and fatally overdosed. It makes me realise how lucky I was in my clubbing days - but some people will always take drugs in clubs, or take them before they go in, despite all the management can do to keep the venue clean, but closing the clubs is not the answer, it only makes it all go underground and less regulated.

Nightclubbing is a large slice of London's economy and like all major cities needs its clubs and music venues.  How soon perhaps before another block of expensive flats rises on this prime real estate building?  London needs its iconic clubs like Fabric and the rest, especially if it is going to be an all-night city.
The London gay scene is constantly evolving but its astonishing to realise that a lot of the venues I knew over the last 20 years or so are no longer here: Crews, Brief Encounter, Bromptons, The Colherne, The Copacabana, The Black Cap, The Market Tavern, The London Apprentice, Escape, Barcode, Crash, 79CXR, The Queen's Head pub off the Kings Road in Chelsea (I lived near it in the '70s), etc as the 'scene' moved from Earls Court and the West End to Vauxhall and on to East London .... 

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