I was in Bristol over this past weekend – home of a lot of UK’s musical talent is and a big hub for club culture – and got chatting to a friend-of-a-friend who turns out to be a venue promoter. He mentioned the rise of big promotion groups/companies are cannibalizing the ‘indie’ gig/nightlife economy – essentially buying off big disused buildings areas & turning them into gig/dance places for people to go. This is making him – who works for a number of very small venue owners – work twice as hard for the same amount of people to get through the doors, and talked a bit about just getting a disused building space and just ‘doing it yourself’.
He mentioned that one of London’s newest venues – Old Fountain Studios in Wembley – opened it’s doors a few weekends ago and had a massive turn-out of people coming to check it out (and I hope to go there myself at some point) however, scouring comments sections online, there has been a lot of talk about how these big prime-time venues are now opening up, and bulldozing the smaller clubs/promoters in and around London, which are doing similar events – so a similar situation to how the promoter in Bristol is doing.
It’s got to a point now where smaller ‘do-it-yourself’ promoters are finding empty warehouse spaces, disused buildings, abandoned spaces, and/or friends-of-friends who own derelict venues and are throwing ad-hoc parties where they simply get numbers of people to come, usually charge £5-10 (or sometimes even for free) and get a few friends with a soundsystem, and play music, until the police enviably close them down. With there being no need for rental fees, security, drinks, etc, people can bring whatever/whoever they like, it’s been more encouraging to younger generations than ever before.
While it’s been documented that the high rate of venue closures, there has been an huge increase in these DIY parties – according to Met Police/Resident Advisor there was around 130+ in 2017, compared to only 70 in 2016 – and looking to increase in 2018.
A number of factors have played into this – especially with the past year or so:-
- Price:- a night out in London – regardless of where you’re going, what gig you’re seeing, whatever Bar/Club you’re going to – you’d expect to pay a minimum of £30-50 I reckon (depending on the amount of people you’re with) – that would be for Entry fees, drinks, food during/after & any Cabs home. I have a lot of friends who simply can’t afford to go out because a decent Night Out will swallow up a lot of their income. This is the one thing that I doubt will ever change in London (given increases in rent payments, drinks suppliers, etc)
- Entry Systems:- A lot of reasons why a lot of people I know don’t tend to venture in Central London are due to most entry policies in some places – whether there has to be a specific Men/Women ratio, high entry fees (some places charging as much as £20 to get into places), queues, as well as strict dress codes – it puts off a lot of people I know and they’d rather go somewhere local/in their vicinity, and where a person they know is holding a party somewhere down the road from them, it’s more enticing for them the
- Venue Closures:- Not really a new thing, as the well-documented closure of a lot of venues in London has meant that more people end up going to less places. Even when more places are opening up – tickets to see them either sell-out extremely quickly or are just priced out entirely. During peak times – Summer evenings, winter nights – the queues to get into most late-night spots in London are crazy and put a lot of people off.
With all these in mind, it can be understandable why people would go to lengths to curate their own parties from scratch – and with more and more larger event companies gaining ground, this would only continue…