1am: September 7, 2016. After six hours of debate and evidence Islington Council made the decision to revoke Fabric’s licence permanently due to a ‘culture of drug use’. The dance music community have woken to the news in shock and anger.
The recent unified rally of support and 150,000 signatures was barely mentioned. The metropolitan police sidestepped questions when asked about learning from Manchester’s use of drug testing kits at events such as Warehouse Project. At one point a ridiculous debate arose on whether the type of music and BPM speed may be brought into question.
Committee head Flora Williamson concluded that “a culture of drug use exists at the club which the existing management and security appears incapable of controlling. 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 and manifesting symptoms showing that they were. This included sweating, glazed red eyes and staring into space and people asking for help.”
The evidence was not overwhelming. The venue’s searches and attitude towards drug were the most stringent in the country. Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie countered the committee’s scathing, factually inaccurate whitewash with a comment that sums up just why Fabric has remained the huge influential institution in worldwide electronic music:
“I cannot contest strongly enough the notion that Fabric is a safe haven for drugs. My co-founder Keith Reilly stood-up to a significant organised crime organisation when we first opened who wanted to run drugs into this club.
“He had to move his family out of their home and had to wear a bullet-proof vest for a month. So we know very well the real life challenges that are involved in running a clean venue in London. We take our responsibilities very seriously and the notion we somehow shield this activity is shameful and I would go as far to say libellous. We wholeheartedly do not accept the police stance of endemic failure. We believe this has been a gross, unfair misrepresentation of the team and the evolving operation that has managed the 6.75 million people this past 17 years and is the equivalent of two Glastonbury festivals in central London each year. We have the highest annual security bill and ratio of security guards to patrons of any venue in the UK.”
Not one bit of progress has actually been made on the culture of drug use (which requires a major rethink and approach) with this decision. And one of the most frustrating facts that arose last night came from Leslie: in four years 80 drug dealers have been arrested in the venue but only one has been prosecuted. This alone highlights a much wider issue than one venue could ever possibly responsible for.
Many have cited ulterior motives for the committee’s decision including the development of Farringdon Station and a new Museum Of London – both in the same space Fabric currently occupies.
This is just speculation, however, but it’s clear Islington council no longer wanted to support a world class institution that employed 250 people, cooperated implicitly with the authorities, developed countless creative careers and gave millions of us some of our favourite nights in London over the last 17 years.
This isn’t just a blow to London, a city that is taking the brunt of this saddening attack on culture right now, it’s a precedent that can be used on any future club closure in the UK. Especially venues who excel in developing, celebrating and representing the more fringe/bass genres that we’re most passionate about. Fabric has championed real underground music since day one: drum & bass, dubstep, grime and every shade of bass in between is indebted to this venue. We’ve even had the pleasure of hosting two incredible events at Fabric and will attest to just how professional and passionate their whole team are in every aspect of their operations.
There was some great live reporting from the committee hearing last night. DJ Mag’s is the most concise and telling. Read it here and get an idea just how frustrating a battle Fabric had to fight. It really feels like the decision was made a long time before last night.
Here are just a few of the thoughts shared by the electronic community in the wake of the news…
Sending love to the entire @fabriclondon family for all you’ve done over the years. I can’t put into words what it’s meant to all of us ?❤️
— Andy C (@ANDYC_ram) September 7, 2016
I feel sick. This fabric situation may not just see the club closed but will make police think grime / dnb / bass events are drug havens
— Plastician (@djplastician) September 6, 2016
Fabric losing its licence is an absolute disgrace. @SadiqKhan you must get this overturned. There’s nowhere left in London..
— Chase & Status (@chaseandstatus) September 7, 2016
— Skarem (@AaronSkarem) September 7, 2016
It was hard to work out just why they wanted fabric closed so bad…. Now it makes total sense https://t.co/Cb3ggTfrCb
— Celebrity DJ Artwork (@artworkmagnetic) September 7, 2016
— FuntCase #DPMO (@FuntCaseUK) September 7, 2016
For 15 years i was priviliged to be part of greatest underground club in the world ,,i am lost for words right now ,,#FabricReview
— dj hype (@DJHYPE_PLAYAZ) September 7, 2016
One thing this proves is that equality exists in the UK, if your politician is Muslim, Christian, Black, White, they all lie. #FabricReview
— Doc Scott (@docscott31) September 7, 2016
— Bassline Smith (@basslinesmith) September 7, 2016
— mistajam (@mistajam) September 7, 2016
— Throwing Snow (@ThrowingSnow) September 6, 2016
Falling out of bed kills 450 people annually in the U.S.
Let’s close beds/sleeping too#fabricreview
— hamilton (@hamiltonuk) September 7, 2016
Is there chance of an appeal? and I don’t mean a petition. Feels like they are now a complete waste of time. #fabricreview
— DELTΔ HEΔVY (@DeltaHeavyUK) September 7, 2016