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Best Of British: Best Large Club - Fabric

Fabric Freshner: Ten-years-young and better than ever

Generally, clubs, much like the latest trendy mobile phone or up-to-the-second arch crack-bang-whizz computer, are characterised by an inherent obsolescence. It is, after all, the very nature of the beast - burn bright, but burn briefly.

London's fabric is the exception to the rule. Since its triumphant opening at the tail end of the last century, it has not only remained at the top of the club tree, but, improbably, it seems to get better year-on-year. Which would no doubt go a long way to explaining why the venue has won our prestigious Best Large Club award.

And though you might think the denizens of fabric would be a little blasé about winning yet another award, you'd be wrong.

"Oh, we're delighted," proclaims the club's Managing Director Cameron Leslie. "No matter what people say, it does validate what you do. Of course, the most important people are those that turn up week in, week out, but it's nice to have recognition, and after ten years it's well appreciated."

Clubs that do reach their tenth birthday are few and far between - although as Leslie points out Ministry of Sound recently celebrated their 18th anniversary - but he believes the real challenges lie ahead.

"It's just a number really, isn't it?" he argues. "What's most important is celebrating our 15th birthday and then our 20th birthday."

To this end there's still the ongoing economic turbulence to ride out. One of the most devastating elements of this current recession has been its decimation of the youth market - fabric has not been immune from these problems.

"There have been a lot of smokescreens recently," Leslie says. "A lot of people being bullish about economic recovery, but the fact remains that youth unemployment has risen to something like 25 per cent. When you add to that the high number of graduates still looking for work you have something of a lost generation. And the challenge for us is how do we approach that?"

Hitherto, fabric have surpassed every gauntlet laid down before it and despite Leslie's legitimate concerns ("I don't wish to sound negative when we've just won this award but these things have to be addressed"), there's no doubting it won't meet this challenge head on.

One of the keys to fabric's success - apart from its sublime physical space, its magical line-ups and the hyper talented team that continue to propel the club forward - is that it has never succumbed to 'trendy' or 'hip' status.

That fabric is cool, or even trendy and hip, is of course without question. But these are byproducts of their modus operandi - putting on innovative, experimental and forward-thinking electronic music. Unlike some clubs, they've never craved to be flavour of the month. More importantly, they've never become a lifestyle brand.

"The problem with being cool or whatever is that you'll only have a short lifespan," Leslie notes perceptively. "The next generation won't want anything to do with you because they'll want their own identity. Our only relevance is the music we put on and I think we're still ahead of the curve on that score. We make sure that we have the right people in the right places - that the promoters are still in touch. That's always a constant challenge. In that sense it's no different to [Manchester United manager Sir Alex] Ferguson or [Arsenal boss Arsene] Wenger blooding the youngsters. We've not always got it right, but I think generally we have."

Ask Leslie to name highlights from 2009 and he demurs slightly, one figures because he doesn't think it fair to pick at certain nights at the expense of others. Instead, and far more democratically, he responds that he still comes down most Friday and Saturday nights and is still blown away by the breadth of music that gets played and how exciting the club still is.

"After ten years I still don't get bored," he says honestly, before adding that if he were to pull a special night from 2009 out the bag he'd plump for the club's always-memorable birthday celebrations in October.

"We ran all the way through from Friday night to Sunday and the success of that has given us a few ideas for next year. We're developing some line-ups that we want to put on and we're reinventing some of the nights to help keep everything fresh.

"We just want to get better at what we do. Judy [Griffith, the club's infamous promotions manager] and Shaun [Roberts, the equally notorious FabricLive promotions manager] will ensure that we do - I know they're already excited about some new names for next year."

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  The Other Nominees

Warehouse Project, ManchesterMatter, LondonDigital, NewcastleMinistry Of Sound, London