Fabric, the iconic Islington music venue, reopened on Friday after having its’ licence revoked in September. This decision from Islington council came after the tragic deaths of two teenagers in June and August, and the club is therefore reopening under a new set of safety measures, supported by the police and council as well as the club and customers.
On the 7th of September 2015, fabric closed its doors for what could have been the last time. After the accidental, shocking death of an 18 year old boy in August, fabric explained “For the past two years fabric has operated without incident, but tragically in the past nine weeks two 18-year-old boys have died as a consequence of drug overdoses. In order to understand how this has happened we have agreed with the police and other agencies to suspend our operation while we investigate.”
The Islington council decision form reported that “people entering the club were inadequately searched” and that “it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs”. Some of these observations were made by undercover police officers who visited the club on the 2nd of July.
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The decision to close the club sparked speculation about other reasons to close fabric. The nighttime economy in Islington employs many people: those directly employed by bars and clubs, as well and the police in these areas, and these all pay a substantial amount of tax. Many have argued that the money fabric was making locally was not benefitting the council and therefore not helping to pay for the high costs of having adequate security in the area.
Islington Council countered these speculations, stating that the decision was “based solely on evidence” and that they have “no financial interest in the site”. Similarly, the Met Police reinforced that their choice to act was based solely on safety concerns, saying that “We support this decision made by Islington Council’s licensing committee. London has a world renowned night-time economy and people should be able to enjoy it safely, without concerns of serious crime.”
On the 21st of November fabric announced that they had won their licence back, and thanked their supporters for their generosity and the strength of their backing. Fabric have a number of new conditions of their re-opening, including a zero tolerance policy on possessing asking for, or offering drugs, and an over 19 policy between Friday night and Monday mornings. Fabric have asked that “you come with total respect for our zero tolerance policy to drugs”. The club director, Cameron Leslie, said “I don’t think there’s any kind of pleasure or relief that we’ve reached this point. We’re obviously delighted we’re going to be reopening but I don’t think we’re going to be looking over this particular chapter with any kind of fond memories.”
Fabric promised “a gold standard” of safety upon reopening, leaving some with a question about whether this would change the fabric experience. Would the added security affect the atmosphere? On the opening night, the 6th of January, patrons concerns were quickly alleviated, with some billing it as “one of the most enjoyable fabric experiences in memory”. Visitors noted heightened security, including extra support from police, and staff checking people’s wellbeing. The excellent line-up, kept secret until the night, included Chase and Status, Dillinja, Metric, Logan Sama, Sir Spyro and Chimpo. There were minimal changes to the rooms with brighter lighting in some areas, and the music from the new Pioneer system in Room 2 was outstanding. Room 1 was superbly handled by Craig Richards and Terry Francis, both of whom have held residencies at fabric since 1999, and were welcomed back with open arms by the exuberant crowd of new and regular visitors.
The slogan #yousavedfabric was projected onto the walls, and the sense of respect for the new operating rules was notable. The success on the Save Fabric campaign, which raised over £300,000, is backed by the excitement, expectation and enthusiasm of the supporters who helped this iconic club overcame the challenges. Fabric has been able to make its comeback in a style that its clubbers look forward to for the rest of 2017.