Last week, Cable was closed down so is there a future for London’s big clubs?
It was announced last week that Cable nightclub in London Bridge has been shut down with immediate effect. It seems that Network Rail had forgotten to tell the nightclub’s managers that they might need to take over the establishment as part of plans for the station’s improvement and expansion. Well, that’s what the club’s owners are saying anyway.
Judging by the video, its uncertain whether or not Cable’s owners were informed of the development plans and is clearly a contentious issue. But what is certain, is that the closure marks yet another major London club biting the dust. In 2007, the iconic nightclub, Turnmills was closed as part of a renovation and conversion to offices, and the following year saw the closure of not one, but three more huge clubs in Kings Cross; Canvas, The Key and The Cross. Add to this The End that closed in 2009, and Matter, which was only open for two years and it’s hard not to wonder if London’s nightlife is slowly drying up, retreating like a party-goer who’s come home too late and accidentally bumped into their parents in the kitchen.
Reasons for these closures vary, but for many the monetary appeal or external pressure of redevelopment schemes means that continuing a club simply doesn’t makes financial sense. The Kings Cross clubs were closed to make way for the regeneration (read: gentrification) of the area, as was Turnmills in Clerkenwell, and the Astoria was demolished to make room for a Crossrail project. Seems like the need for trains is trumping the need for nightlife venues.
But for Matter and The Den (which was actually The End, re-branded with an anagram name, perhaps to save money on the signage) it was the crowd that led to their downfall. Where as the super clubs of the 90s and early 00s were much loved, and attracted a consistently large crowd of party-goers, often fiercely loyal to the venues, seems like clubbers are now losing their love for these nights out.
Matter, which was launched by the owners of Fabric, struggled to attract people in the two years it was open. Having visited the club several times I can safely vouch that no internationally acclaimed DJ, nor cool, concrete interior is worth a £60 taxi home, or, as is the only other transportation option, waiting for the Jubilee line to open for two hours. The initial novelty of it being a ‘second Fabric’ quickly wears off, as you stand, shivering in the cold, before boarding a brightly lit, busy tube train.
A member of the staff of The Den had sex with a drunken 18-year-old behind the bar
On the other hand, The Den became victim of its own success, when its license was revoked, following the Camden Council labeling it a ‘crime generator’, which makes it sound like some kind of hissing, noisy machine, churning out illegal occurrences. Which, in a way, it was. Among various accusations including drug dealing in the club and noisy minicabs outside, a member of the bar staff apparently had sex with a drunken 18-year-old behind the bar. Let the good times roll.
Nowadays, London’s big clubs are more likely to attract a crowd of tourists and out-of-towners than the cool kids of the capital. The rise of Dalston and Peckham as legitimate areas for nightlife, rather than places to go to get mugged, mean that people would rather spend their Saturdays in grimy pool halls than in the drum and bass room of Fabric. Squat parties, free parties and small, dark basements, have become the venues of choice for many young people, and fair enough. Why spend twenty quid on an entrance fee when you can get in somewhere free and smoke inside.
People might lament the end of these often iconic clubs, but realistically if they’ve failed to adapt to the wants and needs of their punters then their survival is in no way guaranteed. A reputation, especially one established two decades ago, can only carry you so far.
In the video above, the Cable TV presenter challenges the Network Rail representatives to answer why they were “destroying London club land”, and in this case the question could hold true. But perhaps it’s time anyway for London’s super clubs to gracefully bow out. The youth of today would rather go partying in a field than Fabric.