World-famous London nightclub closes after drug-related deaths

London's Fabric has welcomed 6 million club-goers over 17 years.

Story highlights

  • London super club Fabric has closed
  • It was seen as a cultural institution and incubator of emerging talent
  • Expert says alternative venues are disappearing around the world

(CNN)A world famous London nightclub has been shut down by authorities after the drug-related deaths of two teenagers.

Fabric has seen more than 6 million revelers pass through its doors since it opened in 1999. The club has hosted over 5,000 DJs and artists and was seen as cultural institution that incubated top musical talent.
    In announcing its decision to close the venue Wednesday, the Islington borough council said that party goers were "inadequately searched" when they entered the club and staff intervention was "grossly inadequate" in view of the evidence of the drug use there.
    After an undercover police visit in July, the council report said "it was abundantly obvious that patrons in the club were on drugs."
    An 18-year-old club-goer died in June and another in August, both after taking MDMA purchased at Fabric, according to the Islington council.
    On its website after the deaths, Fabric described the events as "tragic" and emphasized its zero tolerance approach to drugs.

    DJs pay tribute

    The club's closure has drawn widespread criticism and anguish from music lovers and artists around the world, with a petition to save it drawing nearly 150,000 signatures -- including support from DJs such as Fatboy Slim and Pete Tong.
    US DJ The Black Madonna tweeted that the closure was "inconceivable," adding that Fabric's monthly live mixes were her "window to the world."
    British DJ and radio host MistaJam posted a picture of the Hacienda, what was once a revered nightclub in Manchester that was turned into luxury flats. "Is this the future for [Fabric]?" he asked.
    Louisahhh, an American DJ based in Paris, tweeted that creative populations must innovate when "oppressive government policy shuts down important cultural institutions."
    Songwriter Ciara Haidar said London was on its way to "becoming a cross between Luxembourg and Dubai."

    'Corporate' cities

    Robert Hollands, professor of sociology at the University of Newcastle, is an expert in youth culture, nightlife and urban ethnography. He said that the closure of alternative music and arts venues is a growing trend around the world.
    "We want creative cities, we want lively places that stand out and yet the whole move of cities is more towards, I suppose, corporate forms. This pattern is making cities less vibrant and exciting, the very thing we're trying to sell them on."
    Hollands said many independent art spaces around the world are "hanging by a thread."
    "Berlin in the '90s was a really exciting city... it became known as the kind of cutting-edge clubbing capital of the world."
    "Now people are telling me that it's becoming almost like any other city, these spaces are closing down and all the things that made it interesting are changing," he said, adding that Barcelona is also "a victim of its own success."
    "It's very much based on property development with the collusion of city councils."
    Last year, Britain's Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers released figures showing that the number of clubs in the UK had nearly halved, going from 3,144 in 2005 to 1,733 in 2015. An industry body, the Night Time Industries Association, was set up in response.

    Vibrating dance floor

    Fabric was a popular destination for visitors to London from all over the world. In May, a Polish couple in their late 70s made headlines by raving at the nightspot.
    The 2,500-capacity club boasted one of the city's most famous sound systems. One of its three rooms also had a vibrating "bodysonic" dance floor, with bass transducers that allowed clubbers to feel the music through their feet.
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    Kirsti Weir, a spokeswoman for Fabric, said they're "extremely disappointed" with the council's decision.
    "This is an especially sad day for those who have supported us, particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs," she said.
    "Closing Fabric is not the answer to the drug-related problems clubs like ours are working to prevent, and sets a troubling precedent for the future of London's night time economy."