How Fabric represents the real problems every technoclub struggles with
A few years ago, I went on a trip to maybe one of the most legendary technoclubs in West-Europe: Fabric. Damn I had a night I still remember like it was yesterday and am really concerned about what’s happening nowadays. But what is happening to Fabric is just the representation of the problem a lot of technoclubs are dealing with these days: drug abuse.
Whilst overdose deaths in the rest of Europe’s clubs are rather rare, it does not mean it’s not something that must kept an eye on. The situation in the U.K. should be considered as an example and a lesson to take nescessary measures to prevent such situations on the mainland.
There’s a lot to be said about drugs and either governments should work either repressive or preventive to keep drug addiction under control. But we should look at this from the perspective how clubs could try to limit drug use and deaths on their location.
Techno & Drugs
If we want it or not, drugs and techno are going hand in hand now since early 90’s. Every average citizen second thought when hearing ‘techno’ is ‘drugs’. As techno was the modern alternative music back then, it emerged together with drugs at illegal raves in the underground world. Alternative music, even not electronic, will always be accompanied with drugs.
And at first, this was not a real problem. After all, it just happend in the underground. If some kid died in the 90’s due and overdose of XTC on a illegal rave location, the public opinion was neutral. It was his choice to do drugs and if he died from it, it was his something he should have thought of when using drugs.
But throughout time, techno found a way to more people and clubs and artists have been fighting for years to make techno a part of mainstream culture and arts. But every medal has two sides. If you want to make a part of mainstream culture, you should fit and behave yourself to the rules of the mainstream. And as techno got ripe for the mainstream, drug use does not fit in any longer. Fabric has become an icon for London and takes part in giving the city a positive or negative perspective abroad. Drug deaths just don’t fit in.
Either way, drugs enforces the techno scene as much as it damages it. The repetitive sound makes it the excellent trip for the listener, but it severely damages the public image of techno music, which makes it just a difficult, though everlasting marriage.
So, now we know drugs and techno probably never will be separated from each other, we should look at the possibilities clubs could take advantage of to make this awkward marriage work after all.
Probably one of the most important factors which influences drug use in a specific club is the accommodation and infrastructure. As Fabric has quite a few ‘dark spots’, it just gives people more opportunities to take a pill or lay a line. Yes, the real addicts always find a way or a place to use their stuff, but social control is still a strong psychic mechanism which could prevent at least a few users to just leave it for that moment.
As governments wants technoclubs to behave now they found a spot in public culture, they should give them ‘weapons’ to fight this demon. Since #savefabric started, a lot of people involved vote to allow drug testing kits. I won’t say this would be the most optimal solution but at least gives clubs the possibility to prevent certain users to attend to their venue. And there would nothing discriminating about this: they can actively search for the people who ruin the image of their club and/or their city.
Thinking in long terms, there should be more response from the people who help shape this scene: dj’s and producers. Whilst in the 90’s, drugs was quite ‘promoted’ in techno music, there is not much of a message anymore in the music, nor does artists publicly take an opinion about this matter. I won’t say they should publicly decry drugs, but they should do an effort to make their fans conscious about which effect drug use can have on the scene and their favorite club. There is just a bit of mentality which should and can slightly be changed by their idols.
But we have to accept that there always will be drug use in or around techno clubs, how hard we try to avoid it. That’s why clubs should try to work on the effects of drugs. As XTC boosts the user‘s temperature, clubs should accommodate places for the cooldown. Yes, maybe this could trigger an opposite effect, but if you can prevent one death by overheating with this measurement, I think it’s worth the shot.
Drugs will always stay a bigger or smaller part of the techno scene. It will take a lot of creativity for clubs and other organizations to minimize the effects of drug use on the techno scene. But one thing is sure: it will take teamwork and understanding on both sides to make things work. If this cannot be accomplished, it won’t take long until more and more clubs will fall out and more illegal raves emerge and techno will fall back to the underground where it once started…