Night Club Culture On The Wane

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Night Club Culture On The Wane

One of the most disappointing nights of my life was going clubbing in London with a bunch of Canadians. It was only when they started climbing the fence of London Zoo and heading for the seals’ enclosure that I realised my mistake. Not really, just joking.

Speaking of clubbing though, I’ve just read an article that, like so many, is full of 20th-century thinking. Apparently, our night clubs are disappearing at high speed. Perhaps 180bpm. The concerns raised are pathetically out-of-date, like how these closures will have a negative effect on youth unemployment. Well straight off the bat, within a generation, there will be something like 25% permanent unemployment in all developed nations, and still rising towards what I imagine is a notional 80% once it reaches equilibrium. The kids have already been born that will be fit for work and qualified for work and yet never do any in their whole lives. Perhaps Greece is simply ahead of its time with massive youth unemployment!

Another concern seems to be that with clubs closing there will be nowhere for young DJs and promoters to learn their trade. Promoters can learn in any field. Try organising a trade fair, for example. And DJs? If anyone honestly thinks DJ-ing is a real job, or anything other than a never-ending gap-year, then they are deluded. If there’s any chance you can claim industrial injury for breaking a finger nail then you probably don’t have a real job.

Two kinds of clubs: underground ones that have contributed little to the music scene, unless you think some car alarms going off in synch is music, and boring mainstream clubs in big cities where they haven’t changed the music policy for over 20 years. That’s not entertainment, that’s businesses failing to keep up and take risks. There’s one reason these clubs are closing: no one wants to go to them, and they are past their best-before dates. If you want a great night out in London, then avoid the traditional hot spots and head to Camden where a thriving range of clubs and live venues is booming. It beats the West End hands down.

As I wrote in my 8th June post (Youth is Wasted… on the Expensive Beer and Shots), pubs are having to be all things to all people. Clubs can’t do that and it’s why they’re failing. After the credit crisis, theme bars like Walkabout, an Aussie themed sports bar with occasional live music, started doing bizarre things like a Brazilian night. So did the Sports Café in Haymarket. Once you see this sort of thing the writing is already on the wall. No theme bar breaks theme unless they’re already past the point of desperation. Walkabout is now a decimated brand with no bars at all in London.

Another part of the success of the nightlife, in London at least, was the massive number of young students from overseas. For example, there were, in the mid noughties, a few hundred thousand South Americans in and around London. This young, largely single and fun-seeking demographic supported a huge nightlife scene. But they’ve long since mostly gone home, or settled down to family life, and no one much has replaced them.

I haven’t received any reply to my request for comment from the most likely entertainment brand to go public in coming years, Academy Music Group, so it’s a rather bare cupboard for us. This is the problem when money is so cheap that buyouts take place, and they don’t have to come to market to raise investment, i.e. we don’t get a look-in.

The good news is half of the UK’s night clubs have closed. Good. They were mostly uninventive rubbish conveyor belts of beat driven telephone ring tones, people vomiting after countless shots, and often poorly vetted doormen with violent pasts who’ve forgotten that we are doing them a favour by going inside.

As I said in June, pubs are the new black, and breweries, unlike nightclubs and concert promoters, are easy to invest in. Among the stocks I analysed, Fuller Smith & Turner plc are going along nicely as per. Up from around £11 to around £12 since my post and making nice headway out of the lengthy congestion area.

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