Goodness. London has truly fallen. The famed megaclub, Fabric, is to close and -as with all things left unattended in London long enough to attract a parking ticket- presumably be turned into luxury apartments.
*Takes off glasses and rubs temples*
Look. This is just what happens at this point in the timeline. I’ve mentioned this multiple times before. This is what centralisation looks like. This is what the aesthetic of the new presiding archon looks like.
In a breathtaking replay of the original sin of Yaldabaoth, this presiding archon and its Millennial acolytes cannot tell the difference between the authentic and its simulacra.
Start-ups move into Soho beside sex working venues and then complain about the noise. Because their offices only need to simulate authenticity. The authentic just gets in the way of their scooters and makes them spill their tumeric lattes. Plus I think that guy’s homeless. He’s definitely poor, anyway. This archon is like a predatory insect that injects its larvae into another animal to gestate, hollowing out the host until all that is left is the shell.
So it shall be with Fabric. At this point in the timeline it has more cultural value as a corpse. The banker bros that will one day live there will get to say “you know this is the old Fabric building, right?” I’m wearing its rib cage and its skin like a demon shaman straight out of the worst drug hallucinations that used to happen here. I shake my garage keys and I wave my entry card and I call down Wetiko to its temple. And their school friends, visiting from Essex, will oooh approvingly. That is so cool. You are precisely as cool as a famous megaclub because you do coke and talk about your female co-workers from inside its very carcass! How do I top up my Oyster Card?
Of course, it could be worse. Those seeking to save Fabric could have won.
Then the club would have suffered that particularly English fate of British Museumisation. It could have been blue plaqued and left open as a ‘heritage late night economy venue’ while everything else around it gets the banker bro treatment and its patrons -only there to experience a nostalgia for a time they never went through and instagram said nostalgia- will have to ‘respect our neighbours’ by leaving quietly.
Because, again, it only needs to look like a famous, once-underground dance music venue. It doesn’t need to be it. When Fabric opened its doors, the area around it was shit. That’s why it was where it was. Cheap, cavernous, post-industrial spaces. A brief skim of the history of electronic music suggests it should have moved long ago. This was a movement of secret venues and phone trees and hoping you’d peak before the police raided the warehouse.
And I thought I’d have to trawl the comment section of The Grauniad to find the predictable totalitarian LARP responses -we need state money and officialdom to help us so we can continue to pretend we’re bohemian- but the whole silly attitude has been conveniently summed up in this one article for me.
Whilst I agree that losing Madame JoJo’s is a loss -because that’s what happens at this point in the timeline- I want to zero in on this:
The mass closure of venues hasn’t just affected London’s once-vibrant music scene either. Alarmingly, London has lost vital queer venues too. Cliff Joannou, editor of gay listings magazine QX estimates that 25 per cent of London’s queer venues have closed. Many were incredibly popular, widely respected and historically renowned.
The Joiners Arms pub in London’s East End had an impressive history. Viewed more as an institution than a venue, it was one of the first pubs in the country to pay all its staff the living wage and was popular until its emotional closure in January 2015. Famous for its crammed, messy and vibrant nights, it was one of the few late-opening LGBTQ+ venues outside of central London. ‘Life, Love and Liberty’, the pub’s motto, united its loyal customer-base and it was loved for being cheap, welcoming to all and absent of pretence.
The Joiners is now one of three queer venues in the area that have now closed shop. Like the Joiners Arms, the Nelson’s Head and The George and Dragon are destined to be bulldozed to make way for more luxury flats. Friends of the Joiners Arms have been putting up a fight though, securing Asset of Community Value status by Tower Hamlets council for the pub. But, despite this added protection, the pub disgracefully remains empty and closed to the public.
‘Asset of Community Value’. Wow. Talk dirty to me. Nothing says freewheeling, anything-goes, gay bacchanal like ‘Asset of Community Value’.
Let me be clear about what is killing gay venues. Apps.
Apps for those Millennials who are actually still having sex. Because why go to a bar that doesn’t have Netflix? I remember having a twitter exchange with Mogg about this a couple of years ago -possibly after a trip to NYC. The same thing is happening in Hell’s Kitchen. You don’t have to queue to get in anywhere until the drag-queen-hosted brunch the next morning where you queue for an hour and still risk getting Soup Nazi’d.
Predictably, because the author of this article has time-travelled to us from 2008, she goes on to recommend Berlin.
Creatives, musicians and those wishing to pursue alternative lifestyles are growing tired of London and its false promises. Spend a few minutes talking to artists who can’t afford ever-increasing studio rents or tech start-ups that need low overheads to flourish. They’ll tell you the best location for their creativity to thrive (hint: it’s not London). Many are now flocking to Berlin for its rent caps, phenomenal club scene and creative networks. Berlin is the third most visited city in Europe and is home to over 13,000 Brits.
Ahh yes. Berlin. The Continental spaceport for the AirBnB archon… home-away-from-loft for all of Brooklyn and Dalston. Where the ramshackle blend of cultural artefacts you have no connection to and eras you did not live through reaches its apogee. (That thing I wrote about appropriation in monoculture rather than magic in Pieces of Eight? This is it.) Can’t you just feel all that creativity? I’m exactly like Bowie. Exactly. Except he left his wife in the US to carry on a passionate love affair with a trans woman and hang out with Iggy Pop at the literal border between the western world and totalitarianism. But whatever, your instagram photos of bicycles in the early morning light in the Tiergarten are pretty cool.
I will say this for Berlin. While London LARPs Williamsburg, at least Berlin LARPs itself -the Isherwood-era Weimar self, that is. But Berlin has great burlesque and cabaret! Yeah, and? The French still roller-blade (since we’re talking about deviancy). The Italians still listen to Lady GaGa. Burlesque is dying because it belongs to the same five minutes ago that gave us sleeve tats and cocktails in jars.
Queer burlesque in London specifically is dying because all those Hen’s Night groups that travel up from Kent have found something else to do before they descend en masse onto the dance floor at G-A-Y for their exotic and fun night out amongst the gays. I don’t know what it is but I’m sure it has something to do with small, sharing plates.
And at some point we really have to take the win. The city is ours. I don’t want to drop five quid to watch an F2m Sinatra impersonator belt out the hits because I literally got that exact thing on the Tube. (And he was better than the last gay cabaret I went to anyway.) It’s very easy to be radical in Brooklyn or Shoreditch because -pause for ironic effect- everyone agrees with you. Take your Sinatra show to Hull, buddy. They could use both the entertainment and the outrage.
But that’s the thing isn’t it? They don’t want to go to Hull, and the creatives don’t want to go ‘somewhere cheaper’ and the casual clubbers don’t want to catch the Overground to a warehouse in Wembley. That is the great trap of this archon. Friction -essential for both art and pearl production- is the enemy.
There is good news for those bemoaning the loss of Fabric. Your children will probably experience their first drug-fueled sexual encounters there, in the clapped out ruins of identical luxury apartments, snorting who-knows-what off the ’t’ ripped from the sign outside the old twitter offices. Because that’s inevitably what happens further up the timeline.
But you won’t. Fabric is lost to you.
Because that is what happens at this point in the timeline.