October 28th 2018
Today, as a bit of a creative exercise, I’m going to write an honest review of my experience last night at London’s infamous Fabric nightclub.
I won’t review the music, or the alcohol, because that stuff is comparatively not interesting. I do have an unnerving story to tell about a potentially dangerous experience later on in the night, but first, let’s start at the beginning.
Going in, I had a somewhat distorted view of what to expect from Fabric, but what I learned was that Fabric does not discriminate. All I’d ever heard about it was negative things from the media, and the media-bashing that comes in response to that. The criticism, of course, came from the fact that two people died there last year, and as a result Fabric was closed down for a while, until being reopened in response to public demand.
After last night, it was easy for me to see why the public were so vociferous in their demand for the club’s return. And it seemed like Fabric were taking their return seriously, and have invested heavily in security and their practices for protecting their patrons.
I’ve never had such a thorough patting down as from Fabric’s door staff. Not even from the German border control agent in Berlin airport after my shorts and bag repeatedly failed an explosives test. Even he was not as comprehensive in his patting down as the Fabric door staff were last night.
I think they were primarily looking for weapons on my person, but the door staff took my wallet, removed all of the cards and receipts and searched every inch of leather for anything nefarious. That’s never happened to me before.
That extensive security enforcement was a theme that would come back into focus later in the night, but first, as I mentioned earlier, my initial impression was that Fabric does not discriminate. And by that I mean that Fabric is for everyone.
When we eventually got into the club, the diversity of the punters was completely unexpected. I thought it would be full predominately of people my age, but that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t an overwhelming ‘type’ of person in any of the crowds. There were majoritively young people, sure, but there were also groups of older generations. And even a few very old generations.
The demographic wasn’t just mixed by age, but by race, gender, sexual orientation, and personality type. What I mean by that last point is best explained by a story.
When we got to the main dance floor the overwhelming sight was two huge (by height and demeanour) nerds going absolutely wild on the dance floor. And I’m allowed to call them nerds because I too am a huge nerd (but only by demeanour). Anyway, these two guys were just going completely bonkers. Their arms flailed in previously unimaginable directions at a velocity that must’ve been near terminal, and they were shouting and screaming and shrieking in sheer joy.
Now of course, I didn’t know these guys. I didn’t know a thing about them, but I got the impression, from looking at them, and knowing what I myself (huge nerd) am like as a person, that this behaviour was atypical for these guys. And the thought of doing something so grandiose and attention-grabbing would’ve made these introverts shiver in any normal circumstance (it would for me) but this was Fabric. And Fabric doesn’t discriminate.
Fabric doesn’t care who you are, or where you come from. If you like music and want to have a good time, Fabric is there for you.
In other so-called super-clubs I’ve been to there’s always a defined vibe. Bristol’s Motion nightclub, for example, is always full of what my friends would unironically call “trapstars” (or what teenage me might have called “chavs”). Most of Motion’s crowd are very similar. A few years ago I went to Ushuaia in Ibiza, and that was full of posh people and people who wanted to pretend they were posh. Most clubs have a target demographic, but Fabric doesn’t. Fabric is for everyone. Young, old. Gay, straight. Black, white. Disabled, or able-bodied. Fabric doesn’t care, as long as you’re there to have fun.
And that’s a great thing, because it helps develop an atmosphere that is welcoming, and energetic, and friendly. I didn’t see a single scuffle between anyone last night, and I’m usually acutely aware of that kind of thing (just to ensure that I can run out of the way quickly if things kick off)
But there was one incident I noticed that stuck in my mind, and it ties together the previously mentioned varied demographic and Fabric’s security staff.
For most of the night, my group was in front of a DJ booth in Fabric’s “Room Two” (I have seperate issues with the positioning and layout of that room from an acoustic and immersive viewpoint but that’s not what matters here)
Spending so much time in one spot, you tend to familiarise yourself with the people around you. Like I said, everyone’s really friendly. Well, almost everyone.
I noticed a guy that was behaving a bit strange, and it worried me slightly. There were two girls dancing near us, and this guy came over and offered them both a sip of his drink. They declined, but it immediately rang alarm bells for me, but I didn’t do anything at that point. I just kept a semi-interested eye on him.
He was, at a guess, forty-five, and with him were two friends of a similar age. The girls were probably early twenties. Maybe I was overthinking it, and maybe I was even suspicious of the fact he was older — would I have been suspicious if one of my friends had offered them a drink? Probably not. I earlier said the diverse crowd was a good thing, but the fact that he was older made the situation more creepy.
Then, he did it again with a third girl. This girl was actually with our group, as she’d, shall we say, bonded with one of my friends. Because she was with us, I felt a probably somewhat unfounded duty to protect her, and ushered her into the centre of our circle and away from the guy, who, I’d noticed, hadn’t drank at all from the bottle himself.
I’d taken some action to protect the third girl, and told my friends to stay vigilant, but when the guy attempted the same trick with a fourth girl, I’d had enough. Though, it seemed, this girl had had enough as well. When he took the lid off his bottle and pushed it to the lips of another girl (/woman), she grabbed it, squeezed it tight, and sprayed the water on his face. Though it seemed she could handle herself, I put my hand on her shoulder and asked if everything was okay. She nodded, but turned away from the group of guys and faced the stage. The guy put his arm around her, and smiled at me as if to say “everything is fine here”.
Unsatisfied, I discretely went to talk to the security staff at the side of the stage. I told them that the guy to the right of me had been acting really strange with a number of girls, and I was worried that he might have put something in the drink he was trying to offer them.
Now, I’m not usually that guy. I don’t like to make a scene. But it made me feel uncomfortable and I’m sure the girls felt uncomfortable too. So I felt compelled to act. And, to the credit of the security staff, they took my concern seriously, but they did it discretely.
Two of them repositioned themselves to keep an eye on the situation more easily. And once the security were more within our eyesight, the guy didn’t try anything again.
Perhaps it was really nothing. Perhaps I misinterpreted what was happening. But it made feel reassured that the security at least took me seriously. They didn’t make a scene, and so I wasn’t really impacted by it, they just moved closer to assess the situation themselves. And that was enough.
And it just goes to show, even if it was just a tiny glimpse, that in light of everything that happened last year, that Fabric have really stepped up their security processes.
Until tomorrow, Fabric is for everyone, just not for creeps.