Originally published on The National Student on 12/08/15.
A new report has concluded that nearly half of the country’s nightclubs have been closed over the past ten years, suggesting that Britain’s apparent fascination with clubbing is very much on the decline.
In the study published by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the number of British nightclubs currently open for business – originally listed as 3,144 in 2005 – is now recorded to instead be the much lower figure of 1,733, signalling a massive, unexpected drop in popularity.
It comes as no surprise that the reaction to the report has been less than positive, with many worried that the loss of nightclubs will not only result in the country missing out on a new generation of genre-defining DJs, but also that potentially struggling areas will not benefit from the fashionable face-lifts popular clubs can often provide. Without famous UK nightclubs such as Ministry of Sound, much of the most widely recognised talent in the house music scene would not necessarily be known, and areas such as Hackney would never have been reformed in the way that they have.
The definitive reason for such a considerable cultural change is still yet to be fully determined, although there are a number of possibilities that could well help to explain it. We’ve broken down a few of them here:
Longer pub hours
The biggest competitors for any clubs are the local pubs and bars, where drinks are usually considerably cheaper and conversation flows more easily. The one defining difference clubs hold is their longer opening hours, usually staying open into the early hours of the morning, but with many pubs now looking to do the same, the late night appeal of clubs may have somewhat dipped.
Cheaper supermarket alcohol
With drinks prices in clubs now at an all-time high, those who use such establishments to simply get trollied are likely beginning to peel away. Local supermarkets now offer a larger range of the most popular alcoholic beverages for as little as a quarter of their usual club price, meaning it’s no real surprise that regular drinkers are angling for the far cheaper option.
In fact, money overall is a huge factor in deciding the fate of our nightclubs. Drinks prices are one thing, but with many clubs now demanding higher and higher entry fees – some, such as London’s exclusive Fabric charge as much as £25 just to enter – it’s not all that shocking that some are choosing to avoid such extortion. Not to mention that a huge portion of Britain’s clubbing population are students, and with the recent increase in tuition fees, a night on the town is becoming less and less affordable for them.
The rise of festivals
Looking at things from a slightly different angle, the current increase we’re seeing in festivals across the UK has also no doubt had some form of impact on the clubbing scene. Whereas they have in previous years just been confined to the stages held within nightclubs, DJs of all styles and backgrounds have since been welcomed more and more into festivals, and with the festivals themselves growing in both number and size rather rapidly, the need for clubs as DJ venues is rapidly drying up.
As a key setting for the urban drug scene in years gone by, nightclubs are very often expected to be hotbeds for criminal activity of all kinds. How much of this is actually true is not particularly clear, but the very possibility of it alone is often enough for local councils to decline the opening of a new clubbing venue. Matters of noise pollution also become tied up in this issue, with an increase in housing local to clubs often forcing their closure, whilst claims that clubbing perpetuates binge drinking and lewd behaviour doesn’t shine it in a particularly great light either.
The result of such potential crime has lead to an increase in security and policing around clubs too, which for many has dramatically altered the experience overall. For some, this stricter, more organised approach to clubbing has completely removed both the authenticity and intimacy of the affair altogether, leading them to ditch their former hot-spots in favour of smaller, easier, and more freeing off-map venues such as warehouses, garages and even people’s houses.
Argued by many to be the most overwhelming reason for a great deal of the nightclub closures – especially those in London – the apparent gentrification of many of Britain’s most fashionable areas has seen a number of the most established local clubs and bars be shut down.
One of the most worrying losses was that of Madame Jojo’s in Soho, a much-famed establishment and genuine cultural hub for central London which, after over 50 years of business, was forced to close its doors following a supposed incident involving its staff. Despite negotiations with the local council, the club was eventually shut down for good, with the building being swiftly scheduled for demolition as part of further redevelopment plans for Soho.
The fact is, Britain’s clubs are disappearing, and they’re doing so at an alarming rate. Let us know your thoughts on the matter below, and if you want to keep your local nightclubs in business, make sure you show them the love they deserve.