Tag Archives: Club Culture

That’s yet another thing this country’s short of! As figures show Britain has lost 3000 nightclubs in 11 years, the Comical Ali dance press shows little sign of asking what’s going on…

Whatever has happened to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the past few years? We’ve been short of all kinds of things – lorry drivers, Covid tests, petrol, and evem ginger nut biscuits at one point after flooding in the north of England. And now, yet another thing has to be added to the seemingly endangered list.

That thing is, apparently, nightclubs. Some number crunchers have been examining figures from the Office of National Statistics and have worked out their numbers are in freefall. In 2010, 10,040 nightclubs were registered across the UK. At the last count, that number was down to 6,985. That’s 3,055 nightclubs which have disappeared in that period – a drop of 36%.

There’s little doubt that’s grim – and I’d be surprised if this figure doesn’t fall further. This blog has been contacted by a number of clubs who say their financial situations are dire, to say the least. But the end of the report contains this line, which has been clutched onto for dear life by the music press…

“With 6,985 registered clubs in 2021, from a high of 10,040 in 2010, it’s entirely possible that the UK will soon have less than 5,000 clubs, especially if COVID disruptions continue and capacities do not reach their maximum potential in the years ahead.”

No evidence is explicitly presented to back up this strong claim – although if current trends continued, the number would be reached by 2028. Which would be terrible news for the culture and a damning indictment of the country which was the first to truly fall in love with dance music.

That said, the lack of evidence for this statement isn’t stopping the dance music press from going predictably apocalyptic. Perhaps they could explore questions such as why so many have closed, and what is making the UK such as unfriendly place to set up a nightclub. Unless I’m very much mistaken, that’s their job – and as much as I try, I’m only one guy.

Another one to file into the “keeping an eye on it” category…

So what ARE they basing their decisions on, if not the evidence? Welsh government forced to admit it has no idea how many cases of Covid originate from nightclubs

We all know what the state of play has been for the past two years. When Covid hit the UK in March 2020, the whole country went into lockdown. Nightclubs were closed, just like almost everything else did at the time. Given that we knew next to nothing about Covid and how it was spreading, this wasn’t a great surprise.

But whilst the likes of clothes shops and hairdressers got to open up again later, nightclubs remained shut until last summer. England was the only part of the UK not to shut them again in response to Omicron, and I’ve been deeply suspicious of this decision – how were Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland coming to a different conclusion to England on almost identical evidence?

Well, a gentleman called Tom Fletcher decided he wanted to know more about what his local government in Wales were basing their decisions on – and he sent off a Freedom of Information request down to Cardiff. How many Covid cases originate from nightclubs? It’s a fair question and you’d imagine they’d have a good idea, right?

Not exactly…

So “this information is not available” – there it is in black and white. The Welsh government has literally no idea how many people have caught Covid-19 after attending nightclubs. Which begs a question – exactly what were they basing their decision to close an entire industry on, if not the evidence on the ground?

It looks more and more to me like they were working on assumptions – such as that the virus could spread more in a space where people were closer together. And whilst this presumption isn’t entirely wrong, it doesn’t take into account things like ventilation in nightclubs.

I’ll be continuing to keep a close eye on this one…

Could this be the strangest excuse ever for cancelling an event? House II House scrap plans for a live feed of a warm-up show citing “male menopausal behaviour”…

The dance music world is a strange place. If it was just about the music, it would be alright – but more often than not, things like money and individual egos start to get involved. Still, I can’t complain too much – it gives me a heap of content to write about.

Anyway, someone sent me this late on Friday and I thought it was worth sharing – because it’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen for a while. In recent years, events have normally been called off due to either government imposed Covid-19 restrictions which stop them taking place – or the inability to get insurance in case of this happening.

In more normal times, reasons for events being pulled include issues with the venue, a major act being unable to make it to the show or something similar. They don’t normally include “male menopausal behaviour”. And yet that’s precisely what happened when a live stream of a House II House was scrapped just hours before it was due to start…

Curiously enough, Friday was the same day which Adele announced she was cancelling her Las Vegas gigs – just hours before she was due on stage and after people travelled from all over the world to see her. Still, at least the House II House crew spared us the ordeal of a whining, self-pitying video…

That brings the number of vaxxed big name DJs to one! Carl Cox announces his tour of north America – and it includes a date in New York, where if you’ve had no vaccine, you’re not coming in…

There are an awful lot of DJs in the upper echelons of dance music who filled their quiet time during the pandemic by training themselves up as virologists. Or so you’d be forgiven for thinking – although most aren’t quite stupid enough to at least publicly remain quiet.

Thankfully, a few managed to keep their marbles. Well, mostly. When he isn’t accepting gigs from festivals that are least partially funded by a dreadful regime, Carl Cox spoke out against plague raves – and also spoke up in favour of getting the Covid-19 vaccination. This drove the anti-vaxxers crazy, something which I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing.

He’s now just announced he’ll be starting a tour of North America in the next few weeks, starting in Mexico before travelling to various corners of the USA – although stricter coronavirus rules imposed in Canada appear to mean they’ve been left out. And it’s worth taking a closer look at the places the tour is going to…

The dates in Brooklyn have caused some surprise. The city of New York currently requires proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 for everyone going to nightclubs – this includes staff, security and the DJs appearing. Recent infection is not accepted for entry, nor is a negative Covid test of any kind. Quite simply, if you’re not jabbed, New York’s nightclubs won’t let you in.

Exactly what you think of such a policy is up to you, dear reader. But it does, at the least, confirm one thing – at least one DJ has still got some sense…

After authorities confirm clubs in Ibiza can open in April, the season looks set to be dance music’s longest ever cash-in – but is this “just one last fart from a dying corpse”?

So the dance music world is currently getting very excited about the news Ibiza’s nightclubs will be open for business again this year. Events are already scheduled for April, with rumours swirling around the 2022 season is going to be the longest one ever in the history of the world – or something similar.

Now, this sense of anticipation is rather understandable in the circumstances. Nightclubs have had a terrible few years in Ibiza, with the last two seasons effectively being almost entirely a write off. So people being keen to get back into the swing of things on the island after some two years of living with various restrictions does make sense.

However, this blog would be doing you a disservice by joining in the frenzy. I think a few words of caution need to be mentioned. Firstly, much of this reopening is very much dependent on Omicron basically being the last big wave of the virus. It’s certainly possible it could be – but I’m no virologist. And I suspect most of those reporting this story aren’t either.

Secondly, I think DJs, managers, promoters and the rest need to take a look at England as a cautionary tale. When Boris Johnson allowed nightclubs to reopen in July last year, they were incredibly busy for the first few weeks. Then after that, they’ve suffered from falling attendances – down by as much as 40% in some cases. Who’s to say Ibiza will be immune from this?

Thirdly, there are economic realities to consider. Only this week, the UK announced the cost of living had risen by the highest amount in some 30 years. Other countries are experiencing similar things, partly due to the economy readjusting to increased demand as restrictions ease off. With the cost of living set to continue being a problem, how many people will have the money for a holiday in Ibiza?

And fourthly, over to my industry insider. He got in touch with me last night and simply said “Ibiza isn’t the cash cow it used to be. I was there in 2019 with a few friends and a round of cocktails for five of us cost over €200. It’s no wonder Croatia, Brazil and places like that are where the future lies. Still, at least the Ibiza corpse gets to fart one last time”.

Hey, I just report what he says…

Is there a Novak Djokovic in dance music’s ranks? As tennis player is deported from Australia for being unvaccinated, some people are keeping very quiet about their own indiscretions…

Last week, the news was dominated by a surprisingly small number of stories – and one of those was to do with a tennis player. Novak Djokovic went to Australia to play at The Open. This is when things started to go wrong.

Firstly, it was claimed the tennis authorities had given him an exemption from being vaccinated against Covid-19. Then the Australian authorities detained him due to problems with his paperwork. A briefing war from both the Australian government and Djokovic’s camp ensued – ending up in court. An initial win for Djokovic due to a procedural error from the Australian authorities led to him being allowed to stay.

But just days later, his visa was cancelled again – this time due to “health grounds”. This is presumably due to rules stating anyone entering Australia must be fully vaccinated, and the list of exemptions doesn’t apply to self-entitled tennis players. Djokovic is now back in Serbia, licking his wounds after discovering money couldn’t solve his problem.

Am I alone in noticing how silent the dance music world has been on the entire subject? Even dance music’s anti-vaxxers – and there are far too many of these to count – have been unusually quiet on the subject. And even more odd is the fact Danny Rampling didn’t latch onto the latest anti-vax cause cĂ©lèbre.

Why the lack of loquacity? Could it be something to do with the fact a number of big name DJs are strongly suspected of having failed to abide to varying coronavirus regulations around the world? Every week, I receive stories about DJs reportedly not following quarantine guidelines – proving people’s movements being notoriously difficult is the only reason these stories remain unpublished.

As we know, the dance music world is essentially a big old boys network, where everyone scratches each other’s backs and few dare to upset the apple cart. Most of them are in each other’s pockets, in other words – and one of them speaking out on issues could put all of them under the microscope from people like me. Hence the collective silence.

I’m also aware of a few people in the dance music world who are publicly anti-vax, yet somehow still manage to gain entry into nightclubs where proof of vaccination is required by all patrons. And these are places which typically won’t accept negative Covid tests or recent infection with the virus to gain entry – so how exactly are they getting in?

Either a lot of venues are accidentally leaving the emergency exit open these days, or these people are pretending to be anti-vax when in reality they’re fully vaccinated. Now if anyone wants to explain to me how this isn’t a form of deception, I’d like to hear it…

As Boris Johnson ponders scrapping vaccine passports for England – if he’s still in his job next week – have they actually done anything to reduce the spread of Omicron?

These days, how much time he spends talking about Covid restrictions is the easiest barometer for measuring how much politcal trouble Boris Johnson is in. We saw this last month – during the first wave of the Downing Street parties scandal, he moved England to Plan B restrictions.

And it appears the same might be about to happen again. Newspapers are full of talk that Plan B could be dropped as early as January 26th. This would mean fewer settings where wearing a face mask is mandatory, as well as ditching vaccine passports – England brought them into force on December 15th last year.

This would mean Johnson’s policy had lasted just 42 days between introducing them and scrapping them. Some might have you believe he’s doing this because the worst of Omicron is behind us. This remains to be seen, but Johnson would be doing it purely to get mutinous Tory MPs who hate the policy off his back.

But if a government policy can be scrapped within just six weeks of its introduction, doesn’t it call into question how effective it was? Because how much vaccine passports do to slow Covid down is highly questionable – with a court in Spain previously saying they could be counter productive.

This is ultimately why this blog doesn’t back them. And with Boris Johnson set to make a move on this next week – assuming Sue Gray hasn’t declared checkmate on his career before then – it raises questions about the three devolved administrations in the UK. Scotland and Wales have given nightclubs the all-clear to reopen on January 24th and 28th respectively, but there’s been no word on vaccine passports.

If anyone can pinpoint me to a study anywhere which shows vaccine passports do actually work, please send it to me. Because I certainly can’t find one…

EXCLUSIVE: “I feel like I’m playing plague raves right now, but I’m also f***ing skint, I can’t live on fresh air” – the words of one British DJ speaking to Amateur’s House under a cloak of anonymity…

Last year, this blog ran a two-part series after being contacted by a DJ who admitted he’d been doing plague raves. Part one had the DJ – who only agreed to speak to me on condition of anonymity – explaining what had happened in his own words. Part two consisted of a Q&A session conducted with me.

A few days ago, I was contacted by a different DJ. All I can tell you is he’s British, based in London, has been in the dance music world since the 1990s and has enjoyed significant success during his career. He’s reached out to Amateur’s House with concerns about working as the Omicron wave continues to play out.

Here are his own words, presented without comment from me. Read and decide for yourselves…

Although I knew some guys who were doing what you called plague raves, I didn’t do them myself. It didn’t feel right to me. If anyone asked, I told them what I thought. Some of them were in more desperate financial positions than me, so I kind of understood why they did it – even if I didn’t agree.

Covid has f***ed up my finances. Before it came along, I was doing great. I had over a million in the bank and a steady schedule for the following year and a half. Things were so good I was thinking of retiring, sailing into the sunset – well, that plan’s f***ed now too.

Nightclubs reopening back in July was a godsend. The diary filled up quickly and I’ve been busy. It’s just as well as I don’t have a lot left in the bank – without going into too many details, let’s just say I live an expensive life. I was a bit worried in August when Covid cases went up, but that was just in case they tried to close clubs again.

I’m fully vaccinated against it and got my booster back in November. I also had Covid at the start of 2021 and ended up in hospital for ten days. Those first couple of days were really f***ing scary. I almost ended up on a ventilator. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I just think of myself as lucky, because I know a lot of others who didn’t make it.

Things were going well until vaccine passports came in. Scotland brought one in before England did and I had to cancel a few Scottish shows because I couldn’t get it to work – my ID check kept failing and it took f***ing loads of calls to sort it out. But then they started talking about this new variant from South Africa.

I thought nothing of it at first, then it inevitably arrived in England. Before you know it, this thing is everywhere. A whole load of people I know have caught it, though I’ve escaped it so far. But every time I play right now, I feel like I’m doing a potential plague rave.

But there’s just one problem. Namely being f***ing skint. I can’t live on fresh air, can I? It’s pretty uncomfortable playing now, but I don’t honestly feel I can cancel anything myself. My contract says if I cancel, I don’t get paid. If the venue cancels, I get paid something. Which is better than nothing.

I’m not the only one who feels like this. I know one or two other guys have tried to get this message into the more mainstream dance outlets, but they’ve got nowhere. The press doesn’t seem to be interested in covering this. I don’t really understand why. They’re very select in what they write about.

I just don’t know what I’m meant to do. I’m f***ed some way no matter what I choose. I’m seeing stuff in the news right now about Omicron being past its peak. I hope they’re right…