About Time: You Discovered the Changing Face of London’s NightclubsBy Angelica Malin
Any major city worth its salt will have a bustling nightlife, one that has countless bars, casinos and restaurants to wine and dine while also having a plethora of clubs in which to dance off the excess calories that have just been consumed.
The pull of a city’s nightlife is a strong one and is a key element in the tourism strategies for places such as Berlin and Amsterdam. These two European cities are world renown for some of the best clubs and events that the scene has to offer.
And it is an honour that has been bestowed to them thanks to forward thinking policies by the people in charge of the respective cities. Measures such as employing a ‘night czar’ to oversee the after-hours economy is ones that allows these two locations to not only flourish but improve further.
While it is an idea that also made its way over to London with the appointment of Amy Lame. Lame who has a wide repertoire of skills such as Radio DJ and Stand Up Comedian was given the ground-breaking role by current mayor Sadiq Khan.
Like the aforementioned cultural hotspots that have been mentioned the aim was to make sure that London’s nightlife was given a permanent platform in which to help it prosper and also allow it to play a huge role in how the city is viewed by the rest of the world.
The night czar’s role is to act as the friendly voice of this economy and go into bat when there are such problems as the threat of closure due to a licensing issue. However, after all the fanfare, it seems as if the performance of Amy Lame has been somewhat lacking.
Taking the role in November 2016 she was pretty much thrown into the deep end after the temporary closure of the established nightspot Fabric just two months earlier. The Farringdon based club was hit with the order from Islington Council after the onsite death of two teenagers.
The news that Fabric had perhaps shut its door for the last time was one that sent shockwaves around the clubbing world and after a groundswell of grassroots support, along with the assistance of Lame the club eventually reopened at the start of 2017.
That was seen as early success story for the 47-year-old, but since then they have been few and far between. Especially as countless venues have had to call time due to stringent licensing policy from local council.
One of those was Dance Tunnel in Dalston, the club which was a fixture of Kingsland High Street was hamstrung by the fact that it could not get the late license that it needed for the business to be a viable concern.
And although the decision from former owner Dan Beaumont came before the appointment of the night czar, little has been done to stop other such well respected night spots of going the same way as the aforementioned Dance Tunnel.
In fact, you could argue that the situation has only worsened, especially after the decision by Hackney Council to announce what can only be described as punitive licensing measures for any new bar or club.
Should any new entrepreneur want to open a business catering to the night time industry then they can only be given a license until 11pm on weekdays and 12am on weekends, a measure that kills off any hope of establishing this kind of business in the area.
It is viewed by many as a stealth purge on nightlife by Hackney Council as they look to push this industry further east. You only have to look at what has happened to Leicester Square when the similar measures were applied by Westminster Council.
Once a place where people would flock to one a weekend, the centre of London has now become a lot more gentrified as what used to be buildings that would welcome scores of revellers to dance have now been converted to mid-range restaurant.
When there are closures of this kind then people will always find new locations to dance and party, therefore the crowd that used to assemble in Leicester Square then went East and called Shoreditch home.
However, with these measure in place it means that the crowd will disperse further into East London, meaning that locations such as Stratford and Forest Gate could soon be areas that see a dramatic change at night.
Not only that but it’s not only after hours in which people are partying, this is due to a swell of licensed venues now cropping up with daytime only licenses. Something that has come about out of necessity more than anything else.
These venues are usually multi-purpose meaning that the investment required to run a specialist nightclub can be lessened and shared out between multiple parties, while also the opening hours cause less hassle for both local councils and residents.
Any club that wants to open into the small hours of the morning is always going to have a long running battle with the people that live in the vicinity, in the past it has only taken one noise complaint to shut down a whole venue. The latest open venues are usually the casinos and as many people go there to drink as they go do gamble. It’s not only the vip casino players that occupy these late night haunts but also the stag parties, hen groups and many other drinkers in London.
Thankfully with the ‘agent of change’ it means that the nightclub is now not responsible for any costs that would go with its soundproofing should for example a new housing apartment be built across the road.
This is a step that has gone a large way to protecting what existing clubs there still are in London, but with a lot more day parties now taking place it almost circumnavigates what could be a potentially damaging issue.
All cities nightlife evolves over the years, but many will feel that London’s is actually regressing rather than improving. There’s no doubting that the introduction of the night tube has been a huge bonus for the capital, but at times you do get feeling it is a 24 hour transport network in a 12 hour city.