There is a light that never goes... out?
Earlier this year, there was a mass grass-roots campaign to rescue what is pretty unarguably London's best club, Plastic People, from the utterly spurious claims of Hackney Council that it ought to be closed to rescue the area from anti-social behaviour. If you've ever been out in Shoreditch you'll know what a joke this is - closing Plastic People to improve the tone of the area is just re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic - there are genuine offenders there, clubs which vomit onto Old Street drunken, bottle-smashing, coked-up twats in want of a fight every weekend. Plastic People is the least offensive out of about 20 late-night venues in the Shoreditch triangle. "Save Plastic People - CLOSE 333!" as one friend of mine commented at the time. In the spring, 16,000 people joined the Save Plastic People facebook group, 8,000 signed the petition, and there were blog posts and heartfelt testimonies as far as the eye could see, from America and beyond. I can't be bothered to enumerate what makes the 200-capacity club the best in London at this stage, this isn't the time - if you know, you know.
Since it re-opened - and London's forward-thinking dance fans breathed a huge sigh of relief - there have been some good nights there, and FWD>> has returned to its spiritual home on Curtain Road. They seemed to forget to re-install the ventilation at first, making it a de facto bikram rave, but that's tolerable, for the unmatchable joys of that system, that room, that ambience. What isn't, is the conditions imposed on the license-holders in terms of security and crowd-control. Queuing for 15 minutes just to get outside for a breath of fresh(-ish) air or a cigarette is not the one. Nor are police hovering outside in a massive van every night, interrogating the crowd. Nor is airport-style security for the only fucking club in Shoreditch that NEVER HAS ANY TROUBLE.
I understand why they've had to do it, that it's a condition of the license renewal, that PP are walking on eggshells now - and this is just hearsay and rumour, but I've heard a lot said about pressure to close the venue coming from the people who have recently chosen (god knows why) to live on Curtain Road. If you have more concrete info on this issue, the connection with the gentrification of Shoreditch, please let me know - and apologies for my conjecture. But none of the other clubs on Curtain Road seem to have faced uber-harsh license conditions, from what I can see. So this isn't to criticise Ade, the venue's legendary owner, or FWD>>, or Sarah Souljah, or anyone else trying to put on great music in a great - now compromised - venue. But unless something drastic changes soon, fuck Plastic People, and fuck Shoreditch. I'll give it one or two more goes, but realistically, it seems like the dream is over.
Why? Here's why. This is now becoming a familiar story - from DJ Oneman's Twitter last night:
"Just got turfed from plastic people now I'm only allowed in for my set some airport security shit fuck shoreditch"
"@mrroska I had weed in my pocket even tho I confessed and said I would put it in my car. Don't care that they took it - no entry is a par"
"Ok so I've been banned for life and this will be my last ever set at plastic people kinda sad but happy to see the back of it tbh"Well done Hackney Council/the Met, you let us save Plastic People, but killed its spirit - the London rave scene's most heart-breaking pyrrhic victory. Sad times.
In the elegaic conversation that followed last night, badgyal Mz @Jodelka sent me the following message:
In 1598 the management of The Curtain theatre in Shoreditch ran into trouble with their ground landlord, so the players dismantled the whole building, transported the iron work and timbers across the City, and across the river, where they re-erected it.Time to move FWD>> again?
The re-erected theatre became The Globe.