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The new documentary premiered on Wednesday
By IQ on 08 Sep 2017
Wednesday night (6 September) saw the launch of a new documentary by Eventbrite, A New Dawn: Meet the Future of UK Nightlife, with which the ticketing/technology company aims to shine a light on the evolution of, and challenges faced by, contemporary nightlife in Britain.
The screening in London was followed by panel session, chaired by journalist/DJ Kate Hutchison, featuring four important figures from the UK’s night-time industries: Alan D. Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association; Johnno Burgess of party/festival brands Bugged Out, Mighty Hoopla and Field Day; Time Out’s music and nightlife editor, Oliver Keens; and Hannah Ross of Manchester DIY collective Partisan.
“What was really great about the film was that it really shows that things aren’t appalling,” said Keens. “There’s still fun to be had in the big cities in the UK and I’m really hopeful we can stress that as much as possible.”
All four panelists, however, agreed there are major challenges for the nightlife industry to overcome. The prohibitive cost of events for budget-conscious young people was a recurring concern, as was the lack of suitable spaces in major cities, and how festival exclusivity periods make it hard for promoters to deliver bills that will attract audiences.
Burgess noted the shift towards daytime raving and special events, while Ross added the slow-moving bureaucracy of licensing is also problematic. Partisan operates under a temporary events notice which limits the venue to just 21 days of events per year – and one under which any event which runs past midnight counts as two days of their allowance.
Keens was eager to emphasise that the rise of food events in nightlife shouldn’t change the essence of the experience. “There’s an art to clubbing or nightlife that shouldn’t be forgotten about,” he stated. “My worry is that we lose all of that expression and it gets subsumed by the very professional industry that is catering, which is very economically driven.”
“Venues should have ownership and freeholds of the spaces, not just leases, so they don’t become victims of their own success”
Miller agreed with this point. He reflected that scenes such as acid house were often driven by people eager to experiment, innovate and take risks. A larger, corporate business, he said, wouldn’t generate the same atmosphere as a DIY initiative with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Miller argued that nightlife should be more pivotal in the planning of urban policy-makers. Every aspect of city life – eg police, licensing, environment and transport – has an impact upon the night scene, but their differing needs often make for frustrating contradictions for clubs.
One of Miller’s suggestions was for huge investment in affordable housing for young people, which would make city life more affordable while also providing cheaper rents for venues. That would be complemented by ensuring that clubs which add to the wealth and ambience of a location shouldn’t subsequently be priced out. “We should campaign that venues should have ownership and freeholds of the spaces, not just leases, so they don’t become victims of their own success in places like Brixton, Peckham and Hackney,” he said.
Despite the challenges, everyone was eager to assert what they’re excited about in the UK clubbing scene: from Bristol’s Al Fresco Disco to creative communities such as the Islington Mill in Salford, and even the hook-them-in-early appeal of baby raves.
Most importantly, however, Miller asserted that people need to stand up for what they believe in.
“We have to have a collective conversation,” he affirmed. “I really don’t think it’s up to people in policy or just the people who are running clubs. I think people who are clubbers and who go out and care about what they want to see should be involved in that conversation. I can’t overestimate how much influence ordinary people can have on that.”
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