Everyone is behaving like a Tory, even if they aren’t voting for them
19 October 2018 13:08
I moved to Tower Hamlets in 2011, the year WeWork was founded and night clubs began to die. My friends at the time included two Marxists, a champagne fascist and a dozen tap-water Tories. They sat in the Hospital Club, pitching all day to brands, ordering nothing from the menu and planning to open a bank without branches (today they work for Monzo). At the same time I went to Occupy Finsbury Square, witnessing the disgust on the face of bankers coming in and out of the Bloomberg headquarters. A few hedge-funders instructed me to go clubbing in a warehouse in Hackney Wick to relieve my stress.
Today, there no more parties in Hackney Wick, just closed-plan lofts and newly built aluminium flats overlooking the Aspers Westfield Stratford City casino (indeed, a casino is what’s left of the 2012 Olympic Games). Hackney Council announced that all new venues would have to shut down at midnight. The Fridge was closed in 2010; Plastic People was closed in 2014; Madame JoJos was closed in 2014; The Joiners’ Arms was closed in 2014; Dance Tunnel was closed in 2016; and Fabric was closed in 2017. Granted, Fabric was never hip.
There are zero raves going on and no more gritty nightclubs. Why? Because everyone is behaving like a Tory, even if they aren’t voting for them. Living in London makes you become that person. You despise nightlife and the effort is takes. Everyone’s a freelance and freelancers fight for scrapes, and always cheat other freelancers they happen to employ. London is a big ego-chamber. Five airports and no vibe. Just look at recently published UK tourists guide in Japan – all the interesting activities are daytime. Promoters don’t do clubs either. Just concerts. They want sell-out audiences to pretend to enjoy sold-out gigs. Finance people love gigs, preferably looking down at them from a boxed space within that arena. Finance also hates dirt – hence the invention of various contactless payment methods. Cash is dirty. Touching a card reader to enter your pin is even dirtier. Going backstage could be considered the only unhygienic risk worth taking – mainly to meet a musician who has more followers than you.
At the end of the week, loose creatives who didn’t get a job at capital are left to invoice oligarchs for bespoke services like ghostwriting their PR biographies or helping them vomit money into crypto. Others beg WeWork or Soho Works for a discounted hot desk. They truly believe that co-working will make their startups more viable. What they’re actually doing most of the day is refreshing feeds on Tinder or OkStupid. Dating apps play a huge role when clubs disappear. The date itself, if secured via an app, will never take place at a club. It will happen in a silent restaurant with big toilets. At the lavatory a Tinder user can spend time swiping other dates to see whether they’re missing out on someone better.
Once a young professional finds love, high rent and the decreasing value of the pound are making them monogamous. Couples move in together immediately, or when one of their leases expires. They hate their flatmates more passionately than they love one another. Once they share a house with their Gumtree kitten, they start ordering UberEats every night and prefer to avoid using Uber to actually go out. Not riding means keeping their rating intact (not tweeting helps preserve your number of followers, too). At this point, having given up buying a house, their obsession shifts to members’ clubs and air miles. They try to befriend under-27 year-old Soho House members and ride their 50 per cent food discount on Sundays and Mondays. They then spend weekends refreshing Skyscanner and Kayak to get the hell out of here, then threaten every hotel they stayed at with a bad TripAdvisor review, which will be deleted for a 50 per cent refund.
Personally, I now realise why I moved to London from Tel Aviv: to witness this social decline. After organising raves in tunnels around Jerusalem circa 2004, it’s fascinating to witness the sharp contrast of a soulless on-demand economy gone mad. There’s a weird apocalyptic rush to it. Like staying alive long enough to see the bizarre unforeseen side-effects of climate change.
The gig economy, in a way, replaced clubbing. As I became eager to have good, subversive fun using those apps (like I would in a rave), I came up with a plan to use all these apps the wrong way. I called a TaskRabbit personal assistant and sent him on all my Tinder dates, then moved in for a week to live at my downstairs neighbour’s flat via Airbnb (I complained to them about myself being a naughty tenant). I then went on a dozen nightlong UberPool rides to find a spouse (male or female) while waiting on the backseat with a flower bouquet. Following that, I scheduled an eBay furniture hunt and started painting the couches and dining tables on offer. Like wearing fake Crocs at the front row of fashion week, the real disruption is using those ‘disruptive’ apps the way they were never meant to be consumed, instead of boycotting them.
On a further look at this inevitable nightclub demise, and how it could be prevented, one should take into account the thriving boredom industry created by neoliberalism, alongside automation joblessness. Add the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements into the mix and you get new outlets such as Pxssy Palace. A once-house-party in Brick Lane became a massive club night across different venues, offering an inclusive space for women and non-cis-hetero grime lovers. One of their earlier events was called ‘Self Care is Warfare’. On every social media post they add a disclaimer: ‘Pronouns: Don’t assume, ask! And respect the pronoun given’; ‘Keep your hands to yourself, unless specifically invited’; ‘Body shaming, slut shaming, racism, ableism, ageism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia and fatphobia is not tolerated at Pxssy Palace nor do we have any prejudice based on class, language ability, religious beliefs and gender presentation’ – and more instructions. This nouveau woke party could be a true, limited reprieve for clubbing.
As for nightlife vs. finance in London, the one thing with the potential to shake and break things up is a Rough Brexit, the kind of Brexit that will force the city and markets to collapse while making investment bankers as poor as the rest of Britain. Another way forward could be a Labour government nationalising all private members’ club turning them open to the public. Weirdly, the UK is full of such clubs and none of them ever throws parties (with an actual DJ and dance floor). Members just sit around all and moan. All mediocre things must come to end.
Nimrod Kamer is a poet and a grifter, his book The Social Climber’s Handbook was released by BIS in 2018.