Over the last few months, a harsh spotlight has been set on London's nightlife after the unfair closure of Fabric by Islington Council earlier this year. While the appeal process was pending, a lot of other damaging reports concerning other venues in the city began to emerge and it showed a grim future for the future of the industry in the capital. But the problems we have seen go far beyond to situation in London, and for the last decade we have seen a huge number of nightclubs all over the country having to close their doors. So what is really going on?
The Lack Of Interest
While the situation in London seems to concern itself with forced closures by higher authorities, the main reason clubs are shutting is through lack of attendance. In a survey conducted by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers last year, it found that the number of nightclubs left in the country was down to just over a half of what it was a decade ago. The number had gone from approximately 3000 nationwide, to just over 1700, and that number has continued to drop. And it mainly comes down to a lack of interest. Every year, the Department Of National Statistics unveils a list of the top 10 industries in which we spend our money as a nation. While food, rent, and cars always find themselves in the top three, nightlife (ie. pubbing and clubbing) had always been included, except this year. For the first time since it began the annual study, nightlife had dropped out of the list we find ourselves spending our money on. So why is that?
The Lack Of Funds
To say that the finance crash had a downward affect on the industry would be an understatement. It completely decimated our approach to what used to be the "living for the weekend" culture. Having worked in the nightclub industry for nearly a decade, I have personally seen what kind of influence the thought of less income has produced. Before most clubs would find themselves packed every Friday and Saturday, whereas now the Friday night is seen as a bit of a push to get going. People now would rather only go out one night of the week and save themselves money and a hangover coming straight from work. This ultimately means that the club's business model is no longer functioning as it should.
The Business Model
As you can imagine, the business model of any industry is what keeps the money rolling in, but for nightclubs, this model is far more tentative than most. For a start, most clubs are only open on the weekend, which means that while others can make money five or seven days a week, the club only has two days to cover every normal expense that a building would have. And with some only open for about 5-6 hours a night, this cuts down the chance of reaping your profits down once again. So in reality, a lot of these venues only have a very small window to make their money, and if you look at the size of some of these places, you can tell that they aren't cheap to run. So for a long time, nightclubs began to run student nights in the week to help make up their losses, but even now, this demographic is not the cash cow it once was.
The Student Pound
The cliche of students going out on the sesh every night of the week has been dead for a while now. A decade ago, students were living the high life, what with student loans and affordable education making it easier for them to enjoy themselves. But thanks to the hike in tuition fees, now set to soar way over £9000 a year, the loans they once enjoyed are no longer able to cover themselves financially. In fact, the average student who attended university last year received loans that only just covered their fees and accommodation. It was reported that 98% of the average loan was going towards tuition fees and living expenses alone, leaving the other 2% to fund everything else, including food, clothing, and of course, drinking. But it's not much of a problem as most students now subsidise their lifestyle with a part-time job. But given that they study and attend lectures during the day, where do you think they end up working? Clubs, of course. So rather than spending their money in clubs, they are working there instead, making it even harder for them to go out and enjoy themselves when they are usually at work in those hours.
Where Do We Go From Here?
While it isn't all doom and gloom as a number of venues usually find themselves under ownership of a bigger company, for the independents things are going to get very tough over the next few years. Rent is rising all across the country and without a decent scene for them to live off, the future of many establishments could be in jeopardy. So the only way to prevent this from happening is simply to go out and enjoy them. Contribute to your local scene. Start a clubnight, book some acts, get involved and then go out and enjoy someone else's hard work. Because the only way this is going to get better is if we show that we still care about having a good time.