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LONDON CLUB CLOSURES

Where does a string of venue closures leave the capital?

The abrupt news of the closure of London's Cable at the hands of Network Rail's repossession and plans for redevelopment sent shock waves across the capital on 1st May.

Coming just four months after the dramatic closure of 93 Feet East (see vid) and during the midst of an ongoing wrangle between private property developers and Ministry Of Sound, it's left the capital's clubs lined up a lot like sitting ducks, prompting clubbers to ask a flurry of pressing questions.

Firstly, who's gonna go next? Followed by, what about us? Where are we gonna go? With the ongoing gentrification of London's most prominent clubbing spots – London Bridge, Shoreditch, Elephant & Castle – London clubbing is inevitability moving in tandem with the ebb and flow of constantly changing geographical dynamics: we've gotta go somewhere, right?

  

As the government tightens its grip on whatever area is culturally in vogue with youngsters at that particular moment, developing buildings fit for swanky offices, overpriced food chains and trendy boutiques to tap the trend, clubs will inevitability be treated as the illegitimate party (no pun intended), forced out through scenes similar to those witnessed at Cable when the bailiffs turned up with blowtorches earlier this week.

To suggest that London clubbing is nearing a point of crisis might seem like a churlish attempt to score column inches, though none among us will argue the picture is looking particularly rosy.

Comparisons to successive crackdowns in New York from mid-'90s onwards might also seem premature, but another club closure would indicate a pattern too palpable to be called coincidental. It's taken almost 15 years for The Big Apple to regain form that's a patch on its heyday, so unless the government's squeeze on club culture eases, the generic - and hardly reliable - 'Secret London Location' tag Londoners have grown so familiar with on flyers in recent years is here to say. And if recent activity is anything to go by, it's only going to increase.

Of course, rave culture will always prevail. The question is in what form. Londoners may even find themselves moving outwards. Spreading out even further to shadowy, less discovered corners of Greater London; industrial parks next to dual carriageways, disused storage facilties and abandoned superstores and so on, as the authorities cotton onto those more central. Maybe Ilford is the next Dalston, or even Bromley.

One thing's certain though, licensing laws aren't any softer out in suburbia. 

Finally, a word for Cable. During its four-year lifetime (until yesterday planned to be celebrated this June), it proved itself as the one of the most professionally run underground clubs in London, with one of the most powerful soundsystems we've ever laid ears on. For it to have its plug pulled so brutally - disposing of 70 jobs in the process - is not only a massive loss to clubland as a whole, but a foreboding reminder of the precarious position of the even city's best clubs. Fingers crossed the repossesion of Cable's vaults is just another in a long line of anomalies - and others don't follow suit. Here's the story so far...

Words: Adam Saville

 

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