Earlier this year the Night Time Industries Association launched Nightlife Matters, a grassroots movement to promote night culture supported by labels, agencies, promoters and the public.
A number of high profile artists, venues and promoters have already backed the campaign, which is building a collective of people who are concerned for nightlife, to raise their voices together in support.
Now, Seth Troxler has spoken to Clash to explain why he supports Nightlife Matters, and what people should do in order to save club culture from political intervention. You can join the campaign at the bottom of the page.
There are always multiple factors to consider when it comes to club closures. It’s hard to keep a business like that going for 10 years, just look at places like Plastic People or Dance Tunnel, even when a club is successful it’s hard work to keep it alive. But who’s responsible for these closures? Is it developers? Local councils? Licensing boards? Has club culture changed fundamentally, are kids today too boring? Or is it the government?
Of course it’s a combination of all those things but there’s one obvious way for us to change it. Vote.
We’re living in a time where the government likes to create media sensations around one topic or another. It’s not about them trying to save lives or change culture, it’s about who can keep themselves in the spotlight for the longest. Decisions are being made by people who are too old or too out of touch with what’s happening in the modern world. And it’s not just in the UK, it’s part of a global problem.
In places like Germany and Holland, local officials accept electronic music and nightlife as culturally valuable. They look at nightlife in the same way they do ballet. It’s not seen as something violent or criminal, it’s celebrated. They recognise that many of the people taking part in night culture are tolerant of different races, different genders and different sexualities. They recognise that nightlife has significant economic benefits, that it has the same capacity as high-art, fiction, food or film to inspire and influence a generation. In the UK and US, by contrast, there’s a total disconnect between night culture and ‘culture proper’. Legislators don’t understand who we are or what our value is, so there’s no desire to protect it.
If we’re to change these attitudes, we can’t just talk about them, we need to have more young people start participating. If we want to change perceptions about club culture we need to act. Part of the reason I launched Acid Future, part of the reason I’ve spent my life playing underground music, is to try and keep the dream alive, to try and fight the fight by educating people about electronic music.
#NIGHTLIFEMATTERS is addressing the same issues, albeit from a different angle. They’re going direct to policy makers, showing them who we are, showing them that we’re valuable, showing them that we aren’t the stereotype that they think we are or that we might have been in the 90s. They’re giving young people a platform to make their voice heard, in just a few clicks on nightlifematters.com you can email local councillors and MPs to let them know why nightlife is important to you.
It’s a first step but it’s only the beginning. We’re at a point where the old structures of society are losing their grip, there’s a huge opportunity for young people to change both the government and its policies for the better. Take for example this guy Will Thompson, he used to work for our management company, he was incredibly brilliant, very cool. He quit so he could go back to school and start working in politics because he wanted to change the situation he found himself in. He realised that the only way to really change things is to get involved.
The only reason these conservative councillors get in is because the only people who vote in local elections are 65-year-old tea ladies, if you had everyone in Shoreditch gets involved in the political process, you’d be able to protect bars and clubs in the area.
It’s not hard, all we need to do is participate. That’s how we’re going to protect our night life. That’s how we’re going to save club culture.
You can get more information, as well as sign up and donate to the campaign on the Nightlife Matters website.
(Photo: Stephanie Smith)
Rob McCallum is DJ Mag’s digital news writer. Follow him on Twitter here.