The view from Watergate, a Berlin club that needs to move because of redevelopment.
At last a positive news story in the global fight to keep clubs open.
Club closures have become a tiresome and depressingly regular occurence in the dance music calendar. The city may change but the story is nearly always the same. Nightclub achieves iconic status worldwide and draws clubbers from all over the globe to party. Nightclub gets closed down by resident complaints when a developer opens a nearby block of flats.
There is also a darker side this tale. Club achieves iconic status, then suffers the tragedy of a series of club deaths and is closed in reaction. Peer beneath the surface, and the closure as in the case of Fabric’s, often coincides with the plans of local developers looking to build in the area.
The common feature in all of these stories, whether it’s clubs like the Hacienda or Dance Tunnel in the UK or clubs like classic Twilo or Shelter, is a complete disregard on the part of city officials for the cultural and economic benefits that clubs bring.
In fifty years time, history will not remember Manhattan’s Meatpacking district for the numerous blocks of luxury flats that have replaced the area’s many iconic clubs. On the other hand, the area’s notorious clubbing history and and alternative subculture is often recalled in books, magazine articles and gallery exhibitions covering the history of New York’s nightlife.
A documentary about the heyday of clubbing in New York:
News that the Berlin government is pledging €1 million to noise proof nightclubs is a huge step in the right direction for the global clubbing economy. According to Berlin magazine, Electronicbeats.net, over 170 clubs have closed in the city since 2011 and the news of the government’s pledge has spread far and wide through the global dance music media.
"Club culture has given Berlin so much that the city now has to save the clubs," Georg Kössler, spokesman for the Green Group, which has negotiated the deal with the government, told German newspaper Tagesspiegel.
The amount fell short of the €5 million campaigners were hoping for and the next step for the parties negotiating the deal will be a debate on how exactly the money should be spent. But for now it’s a big statement to the world for how city officials need to change their view of dance music venues.
Cities need their nightclubs just like they need any other vital component of their economies. Clubs and festivals are another link in the chain for bolstering night time trade, increasing tourism and allowing people to escape for a brief moment, the pressures of modern day life. They are an invaluable tool for social integration, allowing people from all walks of a city’s life to share a common, socially inclusive passion.
Instead of closing clubs, the new challenge for nighttime cities should be how can we allow our clubs and residents to exist side by side? We need new more funding for the research into, and development of soundproofing technology, and a more coherent policy for dealing with clubs and nearby residents.
Residents should not be awarded the kinds of powers to shut local venues that they currently have in the UK. And developers should be forced look elsewhere when attempting to build residential buildings next to historic venues. Club culture can no longer be ignored by govrernments and must be taken seriously as an asset to a city’s nightime economy and cultural heritage.