Historically, clubbing has been a rite of passage; a place in which friends with similar tastes in music could bond over their love of DJs and Red Stripes. But with the culture declining, there has been a decrease in attendance of 35million people in the last 5 years, it raises the question of what is the UK really doing after dark?
There is now such diversity in what you can do late at night, no one needs a legal venue to become one of the greatest events hosts in the world. As Wayne Anthony found in the mid 80s, warehouse parties were really what poor students who can’t afford the price of club drinks were looking for. By his 4th rave, he was making six figure numbers; this DIY entrepreneurial spirit has transferred to the mindset of the 21st century teen, instigating illegal raves to pop up all over the country. Not only are they cheaper to attend, the freedom and belonging you feel in such a place is probably what people felt when they travelled up to the Haçienda in Manchester back in the day. With illegalities comes exhilaration, being somewhere you don’t belong is far more exciting than rotting in a club with men who could be you father.
The way the world is now, with all of it’s rules and regulations, has added increased external pressures to clubs too. Recently, I found myself in Printworks for Skepta’s ‘SKLevel’ tour, only to be stopped and searched about 4 times before entry. Of course this is a precaution a new venue in London will have to take, but who really wants to go somewhere they don’t feel wanted? Once you are in It’s brilliant of course; the effort that goes with it definitely cancels out some of the fun you have though. Therefore, is it all really worth it? For a gig like Skepta, yes of course, but the cost of taxis, entry fees, overpriced drinks, and a naughty kebab afterwards can make a night out extortionate for a student. People are preferring to save their pennies for a weekend abroad or a couple days of uncontrollable carnage at a music festival, which you can understand considering the experience that comes with the costing. In the 90s, organisers had the freedom to make clubs a 24 hour prospect, this simply isn’t the case anymore with Police and Councils complaining about the unwanted commodities that could come with it. From noise pollution, to wrecked streets, and the odd scrap with a bouncer, what made clubbing slightly more intense and thrilling decades ago, doesn’t take place to the anymore.
Club attendance is still high in major cities, but in places on the suburbs of the capital, Manchester, Leeds Newcastle and Nottingham, it is no secret that the clubs are, to put it bluntly, very shit. Popular music, on the whole now, is terrible and these places that should be cultivating the youth and creating scenes, continue to shoot themselves in the foot by playing the same tunes over and over again. Fabric in London and The Wire in Leeds continue to draw crowds from far and near because they play what people really want. However, it seems places, like our home town Cambridge, cannot keep up with the successes these cities get.
With the death of the club, brings new motives and activities. Pubs and bars are cashing in on their ability to stay open later than 11:00 pm, hosting gigs, more current DJs and a variety of nights to fit the demand for diversity. ‘Popular culture’ is far more varied now, and people are too; the drag queen industry is booming but your average club often doesn’t fit the vibe. Amy-Zing is the co founder of ‘Queer Collective’, who have done events for house parties, venues and festivals - they recently opened a space in Margate called ‘Cockles and Muscles’. The seaside town is the perfect gig for the space, as it shares a progressive, punky and arty aesthetic.
Clubbing will never die, there will always be demand for a boogie. Now though, it is nice to know that anyone can embrace nightlife: straight, gay or trans. Illegal raves will continue to boom if the police keep on cracking down on the parties, if they left it the scene simply wouldn’t be as fun. Whether you are in Cambridge’s infamous regal, or London’s legendary ministry of sound, a night out is a night out and as long as you’re with your mates you’re in for a good night.