London’s most famous club, fabric, has officially closed its doors after a council decision to revoke their license
Following the death of two teenagers this summer, fabric’s license was suspended for four weeks leading up to the hearing, which took place on September 6th at Islington Town Hall. The council has since decided to revoke their license, shutting fabric down indefinitely.
fabric, a club in central London near Farringdon with a 2,500 capacity and a rich musical history, has been an iconic part of London’s nightlife for 17 years. Hosting some of the biggest names in electronic music as well as introducing millions of people to a more underground culture, fabric has long been a sacred space for music lovers from all walks of life.
Founded in 1999 by Cameron Leslie (still the current director of the club) and Keith Reilly, fabric boasts 3 separate rooms that have hosted events from just about every conceivable genre. A club designed by club-goers for club-goers, fabric was at the pinnacle of London’s nightlife. With world-renowned sound-systems, people travel from all over the world to visit the club. For 17 years, fabric has brought people together over a shared love of music.
This summer, two teenagers lost their lives due to drug-related causes at the club
Ryan Browne died on June 26th after taking MDMA he had bought in the club as well as three ecstasy pills he had smuggled in. He collapsed outside the venue at 8:20am and was rushed to the hospital. He died 40 minutes later. Jack Crossley collapsed outside the club on the 6th of August, also having taken MDMA inside the club. He was treated on site at 2am, and died after being airlifted to the hospital.
“As a parent, my heart goes out to the family and friends of anyone who has lost loved ones at such a young age,” wrote Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, “But we must guard against the assumption that dangerous drug use would cease simply if we were to close a nightclub like Fabric.”
Additionally, Cameron Leslie, director and co-founder of the club, had this to say: “We completely reject the allegation made by the police that Fabric is in any way tolerant of drugs on the premises. We have always implemented the most stringent policies to minimise drug related crime and harm, and ensure the safest possible environment for clubbers. Closing Fabric is not the answer – Fabric is an experienced nightclub operator which means we are willing and able to invest in the best policies in partnership with the police.”
fabric is well known as one of the most, if not the most secure club in London. With tight security checks, plenty of staff, and a healthy relationship with local police, the club has been described as “a beacon of best practice”. Even local police described the club as “a safe haven for the supply and consumption of illegal drugs”. In the past 4 years alone, over 2 million people have entered fabric. Of those 2 million, six people have died.
Incidents of drug-related deaths, particularly ecstasy, have unfortunately been increasing over the past few years (from 8 in 2010 to 50 in 2014). Pills in circulation are cited to be the strongest they have ever been, but closing down what was deemed the safest nightclub in London is not the solution. The government simply isn’t doing enough in terms of harm reduction – the most sincere efforts are coming from charities and small organisations, many of whom fabric have collaborated with. Read more on our thoughts about this here.
fabric was more than just a nightclub
The club had the support of many members of the council, and so the decision that was made last night came as a shock to many. Thornberry wrote that fabric had a “huge cultural significance to an entire generation – a generation too often ignored and overlooked by politicians and policy makers.” She couldn’t have been more right. Over 150,000 people signed the petition put forward by Jacob Husley, resident DJ of the club, appealing to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, to save the club. But it wasn’t enough.
An important point made by Husley is that fabric represented a safe place for people to come together and share a love of music. You may remember hearing about the elderly couple who came from Poland to have a night out at this special club. “no matter how old you are, rich or poor, colour or gender, you are welcome in the club and you will be looked after. It’s like a big family. This is the ethos that’s at the core of club culture and fabric’s operations.”
fabric went into their hearing with the Islington council with high hopes that they would support their initiatives to promote a new gold standard for club safety. Instead, they were met with a decision to revoke their license, shutting down the club that meant so much to so many. The trial took over 7 hours, with the decision not being made until after midnight. One of the councilors was quoted as saying “A culture of drugs exists at the club which management cannot control” as a reason for their decision.
Club management does have the option to appeal this decision. Chair of the Nightlife Industries Association Alan Miller is already organizing a campaign, ‘Fund for Fabric’, to try and support an appeal. We hope London Mayor Shadiq Khan, who has been a vocal supporter of London’s nightlife, promising to appoint a Nightlife Tzar to grow London as a 24 hour city, will have some influence on this decision as well. He wrote “I am urging Fabric, the Met & Islington to find an approach that protects clubbers’ safety and the future of the club”.
250 people lost their job following the council’s verdict. No progress on the harm reduction front has been made. A safe haven for music lovers and performers has been taken away, an iconic part of London’s nightlife erased. Goodbye, fabric, and thanks for all the memories.