Britain has always been at the forefront of dance music culture ever since the heady days of the late 80s and early 90s rave scene. Despite massive setbacks such as the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, which allowed police the power to shut down any event “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”, and the ongoing war on ‘noise pollution’ from local councils and property developers, some of the most forward thinking and interesting electronic music has come from the shores of our crowded little island. Up until recently each new attempt to cull this movement simply led to more innovation as producers and DJs were forced to adapt to a more club-centric style but all of this has been under threat. In the past 10 years more than half of the UK’s nightclubs have closed down as they have felt the full force of gentrification being replaced by cocktail bars, over-priced pubs, gourmet street food and other hipster havens.
Now it seems that all this could be about to change however with the election of Sadiq Kahn as the new Mayor of London. He has vowed to “save the city’s iconic club scene” by introducing laws that would require new residential developments to bear the cost of soundproofing their premises rather than having the burden fall on clubs by having their licenses revoked if they fail to do so. He has stated that he doesn’t want to lose young creative Londoners to cities such as Berlin or Amsterdam where nightlife is allowed to flourish and has become a significant part of the local economy and has backed the decision to appoint a so-called ‘Night Mayor’. This in turn with the new plans for a 24-hour tube service comes as part of a campaign to turn London into a 24-hour city which many would say is a logical progression that is long overdue.
Kahn is not the only member of the Labour party with links to the electronic music scene in the capital as Streatham MP Chuka Umunna used to be a ‘strictly vinyl’ UK Garage DJ back in the day. Umunna apparently used to run garage nights with friends when he was at university in Manchester but supposedly fell out of love with the scene as it progressed to the more aggressive grimey end of the spectrum. Like Kahn, Umunna has been quoted as saying “we’ve got to think about what those industries are that deserve medals for British industry trading and creating more jobs in the UK, and the music industry is definitely one of them”.
Depending on how cynical you are, this can either be viewed as a breath of fresh of fresh air or a cheap attempt to win over young voters but there does seem to be an air of sincerity about it, especially when you consider that the majority of London councils aiding the decline of these clubs are actually Labour. Whether or not Sadiq will be able to save London’s clubbing scene is yet to be seen, however, it definitely feels like a step in the right direction.