Islington council have bowed to public pressure and some very fine legal argument and offered fabric another lease of life. It’s life with some pretty tough conditions but it’s life that allows doors to open. Covert surveillance, ID-scanning systems and lifetime bans all sound pretty punitive and, let’s face it, would be beyond the reach of most clubs to endure.
As a community, we have to worry that the additions to fabric's licence may be pulled out as a benchmark in any future case where a night time venue is considered to be operating ‘recklessly’. The ruling is saying to fabric, "you want to stay open, you keep drugs out". This echoes the UK government's singular approach to harm reduction, aka the failed war on drugs.
The elephant in the room of course is that drugs will still find their way into fabric as they do bars, clubs and myriad other public spaces day in day out. Whether in bras or underpants or other places, thinking you can ban a club to safety is naïve. What is needed is a more fundamental shift in the way invested parties talk to each other. Despite the ruling to let the club re-open, the reality remains in most countries, promoters and venues are discouraged from talking about drug use and even acknowledging its presence could bring premature closure. This means that while dance venues, event promoters and their websites probably represent some of the best hubs to educate people about how to use drugs safely – none are permitted to have these discussions for fear of closure. Fabric will have to comply with ever more restrictive requirements set by the council, police and licensing. But the honest conversations that are needed are still being closed down, not shouted from the rooftops.