Local government - where democracy goes to die

12 Sep 2016

 Fabric has closed its doors – most likely forever. A real cultural loss in the capital, caused by the nighclub's  licence being revoked by Islington council. It followed the death of six people from suspected drug overdoses since 2011.


However it looks like something called ‘Operation Lenor’ may actually be the reason behind the closure.


Operation Lenor consists of reasons for the pre-planned closure of the club. The most interesting reason at the top of the list was the 2014 review of Fabric’s licence. Not actually the death of the two people at the club recently.


The council and the local police budgets were being slashed significantly. So when they work so closely with an apparently planned attempt to close down the club, it looks a bit odd.


Fabric co-founder Cameron Leslie puts it best: “since 2012 we have had arrested in the region of 80 drug dealers identified at the front door; there has been only one prosecution. So perhaps if the police want to start levelling criticism of how these so-called safe havens exist they should start by looking at themselves and the CPS, because these individuals come back the following week laughing at us.”


Officers on an undercover operation said clubbers there “manifesting symptoms showing that they were [on drugs]”. But the point is Fabric didn’t sell drugs. Coke is only sold as a mixer. If people want to take drugs there’s no stopping them if you don’t see it.


Fabric was the only real ally the police had in their crackdown on drug-club culture. If Fabric gets its licence revoked then every other club in the UK should probably by proxy. Part of the problem is the council’s total authority over the matter, given their obvious lack of ability to grasp that preservation of culture is an okay thing to do.


Firstly Fabric as a cultural icon cannot be assessed on the same level as renewing the corner shop off-licence. Imagine if places such as Westminster Cathedral were dealt with as a local council matter. Local council meetings are deceptively dull, they have a lot of power.


Local councils are often made up of those either unwilling or simply not good enough to be an MP. Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn spoke out against the closure. The councillors here look very much over the hill. Many are older, people who lived through rave culture but never partook.


People like to talk of liberty and freedom but they only really mean it when it comes to freedom to do things they like to do. It’d be interesting to know how many of the local councillors were Fabric regulars – raving to Four Tet after a long day in the planning committee.


Music is perhaps the UK’s greatest and most respected export. Electronic music is no exception with Grime, Dubstep and others coming out of London. If clubs like Fabric hit the dust, where do young DJs play? Illegal raves with more chance of overdosing? House parties with a similar lack of police presence. Goldie, in one of his best moments since the documentary ‘Goldie on Matisse’ said in response to the closure: “God I’m glad I made music when I did, because God help the kids of tomorrow.”


Clubs and drugs will always be linked. Look at the Hacienda – a club essentially controlled by drug dealers. But don’t go after Fabric, of all places.


What would normally be a council matter has garnered such uproar in the campaign to keep it open that the end decision is confusing. Closing it looks like it is being made an example of. If many more clubs start to follow suit then the state of the industry looks in peril. The closure of Fabric is just another casualty of the war on drugs.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Want to respond? Submit an article.


We provide a space for reasoned arguments and constructive disagreements.

Help to improve the quality of political debate – support our work today.