This Town, is coming like a Ghost Town. London club closures since the Millennium.

 In News

As the Specials once said of Coventry “this town, is coming like a ghost town.  All the clubs have been closed down”. Remember when London (yes we know it’s not a town) had more raves, live shows and comedy nights than you could shake a stick at. Sadly this is now far from the case, with venues shutting with increasing frequency. Soon all that will be left is memories, blocks of expensive new flats and shiny office building with Costa coffee shops glowing underneath them. So grab a latte and settle down for the sad story of London clubland closures.

Here is the depressing list of recent (some a bit less recent than others) closures. It’s almost beyond belief:

The Coronet – 2017 due to close
Fabric – 2016
Passing Clouds – 2016
Shapes – 2016
Studio 338 – 2016
Dance Tunnel – 2016
Plastic People – 2015
Crucifix Lane – 2015
Cable – 2013
Hidden – 2013
Mass and Babalou – 2012
Proud 2 – 2012
SEOne – 2010
Matter – 2010
The Fridge – 2010
The End – 2009
Herbal – 2009
The Blow Up Metro Club – 2009
Astoria – 2009
Turnmills – 2008
Unit 7 – 2008
The Cross – 2007
Canvas – 2007
The Key – 2007
Velvet Rooms  – 2003
Home – 2001

Sorry if we missed any!

That is a long list of venues and a lot of parties that never happened. So what caused all these closures and what are the implications for the rave scene and music scene in London and beyond.

There are three main areas that a lot of these closures fall into.

License problems

Fabric is the most recent to fall foul of License problems. The Police revoked their license to “present music, art and culture” this year after two 18 year olds died over a six week period. A teenager tragically lost his life after being taken ill outside the club on a Saturday morning and a 2nd collapsed and sadly died in June after Police were called to the venue. The venue released a press released stating “we have agreed with the police and other agencies to suspend our operation whilst we investigate. The club will therefore be closed this weekend.  The Police had already asked the council to consider revoking the license of the venue in 2014 due to drug related deaths. The venue has made to use sniffer dogs on the door and later won an appeal against this. They are now appealing against the decision to permanently close the venue.


Property prices have gone insane in the last decade in London, this is a large factor in the venue problems. From massive rent increases due to property value shooting up, making venues no longer profitable to development into blocks of flats, offices and other more developments.

Busy Bodies

Local busy bodies can have a massive effect on venues, endless complaints can push a council into action which otherwise would have left things as they were. The worst offenders are that weird group of people who move near a venue and then complain it’s too noisy. You couldn’t make it up if you tried, what there is late night noise coming from the massive venue which has been there 100 years near to the house that you just moved into, surely not?

Bad Management

Running a nightclub can attract a certain type of personality and although it is by no means the norm that it was in the 90’s. Bad and irresponsible management can sometimes be the reason a venue shuts, whether from financial trouble, ignore licensing issues or other legal issues. This was common place “back in the day” but these days it seems to have nearly vanished, but not entirely of course.

So, with closures happening more and more frequently, what is the impact on London’s rave scene and how will the illegal Rave scene flourish or suffer?

So let’s talk – Illegal Raves!

Around the end of the nineties, after the criminal justice bill was fully in effect, the scene went back deep deep underground in the UK. Who can forget the heady days of acid house and hardcore that exploded across England in the nineties, well nearly everybody it turned out, as once full farmers fields, were once again back in the hands of the cows. Spiral Tribe had been evicted from the country, even the mighty Exodus had hung up their boots. All seemed lost as the rave scene became more mainstream and more commercial.


But, the illegal rave scene has exploded again in the last ten years. Partially due to a change in the squatting laws which saw private property become harder to squat.  Empty industrial property became the new trend and it’s must be hard to squat a warehouse and go to raves in clubs without putting the two together. Social media of course helped massively and for a while every other notification was from a free party of some kind.

Similar problems to back in the day, popped up as the scene expanded. With an illegal party come headaches and they come in all the forms you’d expect. Of course everyone in the scene were fantastic and lovely, but as any scene grows rapidly, it’s problems are magnified. Promoters come and go, raves get shut down, violence against the police pops up, rip off raves don’t happen, artists don’t turn up, under age kids start to invade, violence pops up, as do overdoses and it takes a strong mind to deal with all of that professionally.

It was only a matter of time before things got out of control. As the parties grew, so did the press attention and after a few headline grabbing raves got out of hand, the scene said goodbye to it’s unstoppable climb and popped its head back down out of the firing range. Facebook events suddenly became unacceptable and rare and although there are still a lot going on, they are not quite the monsters they once were during the second rise of the illegal rave.  But if every venue closes down, it looks like illegal raves are going to rise up again. What other option is there?

So with the future of our capitals raving scene looking shaky, let’s go through some of the big and memorable club closures:


With a history dating back to 1866, the Turnmills site had seen life as a warehouse and stables, a gin warehouse and in 1985 it became a bar and restaurant.

It opened as a club in 1989 and become the first venue in the UK to have a 24 hour license. It used this to great advantage with the legendary after hours party Trade. It was home to some massive nights, including Xanadu, Together, Smartie Partie, Together and the Gallery.

In January 2008, they announced that the building would close on the 23rd of March due to the lease on the building expiring. It was later demolished and turned into a shiny new office building, because if there is one thing London needs more of, it’s big shinny office buildings. There had been rave rumours of closure in the air for years and apparently no hard feelings between the club and the landlord, more an excuse for a 3 day bender. With their closing party “The Last Dance” showing why the club has gone down in the rave history books. The director Danny Newman said “it feels as though it’s come to a natural and we are finishing on a high”.

And so the party came to a glorious end, over the years the venue had seen thousands of artists perform including, The Chemical Brothers, Paul Oakenfold, Fatboy Slim, Josh Wink and Faithless to name just a few. Gone but never forgotten.


The Coronet

The Coronet was due to close in the very near future, after 138 years open as a venue. They have had problems due to the development of the Elephant and Castle area and plans to redevelop the shopping centre next to the venue. The venue said “We have been here for so long and we will be really sad to go, but with the Elephant and Castle changing so much, so quickly, it’s become clear that the evolving character of the area is no longer right for a venue like ours”. The landlord allowed them to remain open until the 5th of January 2017 and “rather than fighting against the change, we wanted to focus on celebrating The Coronet’s incredible history” “What better way to do that than by making The Coronet’s final year of operation it’s biggest and best.”

Perhaps this should be a lesson for venues and people everywhere, they filled the diary with some of the best events for years, from old and new promoters and acts. After a successful year it looked like it was all coming to a glorious end.

But, good news! They have had a reprieve and according to a post on their website at the start of this month they have had their “lease extended until January 2018”. It states “2016 has been an exciting year for us, featuring many memorable live shows and club nights”…”then just as the team were preparing for the last hurrah, this reprieve has re-ignited the engines. We hope to make 2017 even bigger and better”. Great news we think you’ll agree!


Matter / Proud 2

Matter opened in September 2008 after years of planning, it was licensed for 2600 people and the second project for two of the owners of Fabric. It had a state of art sound system and a “bodykinetic” dancefloor. But by May 2010 it hit financial difficulties and after an announcement that the venue would be “closed for the summer”, it never opened again.

But it came back to life under a different name……Proud2 in May 2010, sadly only lasting a few years again.

Proud2 was initially temporarily closed after two stabbings. They both occurred at the House of Joy event at Proud 2. One victim was stabbed in the back and elbow and another in their left arm.  Greenwich council decided a full license review was required and decided the venue had to remain shut until the ruling was given. The venue wrote at the time “we are currently undergoing a review of license and are closed for the next 28 days. We expect to open to the public following this period”

Alex Proud, CEO of Proud2 said this decision was “absurd” and that “Huge damage has been done and it wasn’t needed. The concept that a club which has hosted 300,000 people this year and is overwhelmingly safe, is now too dangerous to open for the month while we wait for the review is simply undemocratic and absurd”. The license was later restored but by then it was too late and they ended up going into administration.

The Fridge

When The Fridge opened in 1981 it fast became an infamous venue for the New Romantic scene at the time. Boy George was a regular and its nights hosted by Soul II Soul became the stuff of legends.  The venue came unstuck over its underage parties, where police found evidence of underage drinking in 2009. They stopped running the events to try and stop their license being revoked, but because of this lack of income and loss of money on cancelled bookings (pesky agents).  By March 2010 it was all over and the venue shut its doors. The next year it re-opened as Electric Brixton and is doing fantastically with a wide range of great club nights and live shows, bringing it back to its former glory days. A happy ending for once in this slightly bleak story.

Passing Clouds

Passing clouds is another recent sad loss to the London clubbing community. The team behind the music, nightlife and art venue were locked out by property developers in June. But that didn’t stop the good people at Passing Clouds and along with local supporters they broke in and continued to run the venue.

The owner Eleanor Wilson was taken to court by the landlords and despite being offered a new 15 year lease, she and passing clouds were evicted. There was to be a 320{c677f8d1c17564a56c503e01be8f588995c5f36b5bc5ff935a383d6667989752} rent increase as part of the new lease, not letting this dampen their spirits they went off to see if it could work. 5 days later the building was plastered in eviction proceedings and they were taken to court.

They sadly faced a Judge they had suffered at the hands of (until an appeal) years before. She later claimed “yes I am biased” over the case, but still never stepped down, or allowed them time to prepare their case.  They planned to take the case to the high court, but the landlords solicitors rushed through a possession and on Tue 14th Aug at 4am a team of 40 bailiffs and a specialist climbing team forcibly entered the venue and occupied it. They are still fighting though and appealing to the new Major of London. Help them with their ongoing struggle against the shady property developers and solicitors from their website.

Studio 338

The Greenwich venue was a true rave venue, with it’s mix of underground industrial and super club vibes, with it’s Berlin styling and décor. It was home to a never ending whose who of House and Techno djs, as well as iconic nights like Cirque Du Soul, Half Baked and Sankeys. It’s all night terrace helped it in the post smoking era. Tragically a fire broke out in the venue on Aug 8th 2016 and staff member Tomas died in hospital after being caught in the fire. The venue said that “our hearts are smashed and broken”. Police and Health and safety investigated what caused the fire which took over 100 firefighters to get under control. It had spread into a nearby warehouse and a scrap paper processing yard. 14 men were initially arrested for arson, but later released without charge.

So, sad times for the countries capital. London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan has got involved and will hopefully have a better time of it than the bumbling Boris ever did.  He spoke out after Fabric closure, saying “I went to Fabric when I was younger. It was a great place to go. It was a great night out. What’s important, this that there’s a new generation of people who want to go clubbing. And it’s important that council work with the police and others to address the concerns that people have got”. Sadiq has become the popular face of campaign, with producers, DJ’s and locals asking him to save the club. “I don’t want Fabric closing down” “I want an environment  where we don’t just preserve our heritage, but also one where we can have new nightclubs opening”. Imagine such a concept, new venues opening. It seems a million miles away from the current situation, but as long as someone is willing to take up the fight, then who knows.

One thing is certain though, taking away safe places for people to rave in, will always cause as many problems as it solves. Even if the next generation take less drugs and drink less. That doesn’t mean that people will stop wanting to party, rave or go to live shows.  It probably doesn’t even mean that people are doing this less, just that figures are skewed by legal highs and other new factors. So if the trend continues and all that is left is stadium sized venues, with no nightclubs left. Then what choice is there? House parties, illegal parties or staying in for the rest of their lives with a nice cup of coco. House parties always come with problems, violence and of course under age drinking. Illegal raves might be great for ravers (for the most part), but surely not what the people of London really wanted instead of all those venues with security, safety and licenses. Perhaps with the London housing price bubble seeming to be bursting post Brexit, prices will tumble in the capital and new venues will be able to open again. But it seems a long way off…….

In the meantime sign the petition to keep Fabric open.



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