Friday, September 17, 2010

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.

The re-erected theatre became The Globe.
Time to move FWD>> again?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a girl who was denied entry recently because she had an empty baggie on her, like really?!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

it's going to kill the club unless it changes asap. "5 mins to have a cig or you're not coming back in" !?!
also the nights go on until 4 but the bar closes at 1.50am. who's going to stick around without a drink for over 2 hours?? no one.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Under what authority are the police allowed to search people going in?

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They come and go.
Why do think they turned up in Curtain Rd anyhow.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big fucking deal.
If Hackney sucks shit move.
Crying about it aint gonna make anyone a cup of tea.

1:28 PM  
Blogger englishman in new york said...

You should come to New York. Good parties are about as rare as a pork chop in a synagogue.

3:11 PM  
Blogger dan hancox said...

@englishmaninnewyork: i am coming to new york. we've talked about this.

oh i see, you were being rhetorical.

@derek: i don't know that they are necessarily searching people. they tend to park outside for periods at a time, and address members of the queue, people smoking in the designated smoking area, people standing nearby trying to decide what to do or whether to go in, the way people do on thursday/friday/saturday nights. it creates a nasty atmosphere - quite deliberately i think.

@chris and anonymous person 1: yeah exactly, totally OTT

@anonymouse person(s) 2/3: i understand neither your abysmal grammar nor your point. sod off.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more. after going to plastic people week in week out for about 6 years i was last week 'banned for life' because a friend of mine was smoking a spliff about 30 metres from the club entrance. getting in was a nightmare, inside you are watched constantly, the bar closing early is a pain in the ass and creates an environment where people binge drink in fear of sobering up after the bar closes, and getting outside to smoke is a nightmare. plastic people was my favourite club in the world, however in its present incarnation i would rather that it just closed and the incredible nights there moved to a more relaxed space outside of shoreditch. i have nothing against ade (or winston, who is still a sick guy) but the way we were treated last week was simply uncivilised and unfair. what made PP such an incredible club was the chilled atmosphere, it was such a dream in comparison to other london clubs, alas that is no longer the case.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that the club has had such a high profile battle with the police and council for it's survival, it's clearly not the smartest thing to show up at the venue, with illegal substances, or an evidence of them and expect to get in. Bascially, If they let you in, they break the terms of their license and then they go out of business, everything people fought for would be for nothing.

What would you expect them to do?

The soul of Plastic People is in the people who go and their love of music. This is what a lot of people were arguing about on about on the petition...

Maybe accepting the changes (unfair though they may seem) and focusing on the part of Plastic People that it does better than anyone else is the way forward?

I worked there for 5 years as a dj without so much as a drink ,and i can tell you, it's still the best venue in the world when you are sober.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fair enough, you dont like the club anymore, but its not their fault. theyre doing what they have to do to keep going. it sucks, but its reality. rich tossers paying rent in shoreditch will always have sway. god knows why theyre all on pp's case though - im surprised, when theres so many other shitter, more annoying clubs around there. plus i dont think pp has ever had any trouble so its bizarre. what you would be better off doing is setting up a petition to get the cunts who live there to shut the fuck up and stop moaning.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just hide the drugs up your bum and do em in the corner of the dark dancefloor innit.
Or, don't be claf...get there early so you don't have to queue, have a drink, quit smoking, be nice, listen, dance and then fuck off to hoxton square to get 4am ass raped by a bunch of Italian K heads.

2:54 PM  
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