London’s Fabric To Reopen

In a rare victory for small venues in the UK, underground London techno club Fabric won its license back.

Photo: David Mirzoeff / PA via AP
London’s mayor says the city’s nightlife is under threat, with the closure of the Fabric club that was spurred by the deaths of two clubgoers.

Fabric’s license was revoked in September, after drug-related deaths had raised concerns about the club’s conduct. Its owners intended to appeal the decision later this month, but reached an early agreement with Islington Council.

Requirements of the agreement include the use of a new ID scanning system on entry to the club, enhanced searching procedures and controls, covert surveillance within the club, life-time bans for anyone found in possession of drugs, whether on entry or within the club, as well as for anyone trying to buy drugs in the club. According to a joint statement released by Fabric and Islington Council, there will be “enhanced monitoring and external auditing for compliance against procedures.”

Physical changes to the club include improved lighting and additional CCTV provision. The club’s owners need to hire a new security company, and people younger than 19 years are not permitted to club nights any longer. London Mayor Sadiq Khan positively highlighted the role his newly appointed night czar Amy Lamé played in the negotiations between club and council. An online petition and crowd-funding campaign were launched after Fabric’s license was revoked, resulting in more than 150,000 signatures and some £300,000 raised for Fabric’s legal costs.

In the immediate aftermath of the closure, DJs and clubgoers around the world had shared their thoughts on drug abuse and club culture. For years, their stance has been that no amount of regulation will inhibit drug use, as the past has clearly shown. But the agreement with Islington Council allows for just that: more surveillance, more rules, more regulations.

The joint statement says, “Fabric accepts that its procedures in relation to searching were insufficient, as were its procedures to prevent the consumption and dealing of drugs within the club itself. Fabric accepts that the Police acted reasonably in making the application for a review and that the Authority’s sub-committee was fully entitled to revoke its Licence.”

A statement on the club’s website reads: “We are hugely thankful to be able to confirm the news that we have won our license back. We owe everything to our supporters. We really would not be here today without your unparalleled support and generosity. So many different people stepped up to put their voices to our cause, artists from all corners of the music community, fellow promoters who have put on huge events from us and clubbers from around the world who all united behind us.

“We’ve even seen people sporting their #savefabric T Shirts on the other side of this planet showing just how big this thing is. So, thank you to all of you. Without the strength of your backing this would not have happened.”

Fabric also repudiated the abuse aimed at Committee members and Council staff after they revoked the club’s license. A 25-year-old was sentenced to eight months in prison for sending a vicious message to Flora Williamson, chair of Islington Council’s licensing committee, the BBC reported.

The exact date of Fabric’s reopening has yet to be announced. Islington Council first wants to see proof that the club is complying with its new conditions.