If you’ve been clubbing in London recently you’re already familiar with the clubs security staff bellowing the phrase “No ID, no entry!”. The policy of scanning ID on entry for all customers, regardless of age, is gaining momentum and increasingly becoming mandatory for clubs and bars wishing to maintain their late night licenses.
Of course you’ve all seen in the news this week the effect that not complying with licensing committees can have on venues, one of London‘s most world renowned venues Fabric nightclub was forced to close down following Islington councils decision to revoke their license. That decision to close one of the cities most meticulous clubs could have a knock on effect for clubbing as a whole in the UK, something we should all be concerned about. London has seen 50% of its music venues close down over the past 8 years, it’s sad to think that the next generation of ravers will not have the chance to dance at Bagleys, SeOne, Mass, The Rex, Area, & Coronet which is due to close its doors later this year (all venues we have used for Innovation events in the past), not to mention Astoria, Hidden, The End, Herbal, Velvet Underground, Plastic People, Turnmills… Unfortunately the list goes on. As you can imagine club managers have no option but to tow the line with any stipulations that local police & councils impose on them.
It’s become such an issue that London‘s new mayor Sadiq Khan ran for office with a vow to help the capitals struggling night time economy. Unfortunately despite his words of support he doesn’t seem to have upheld his promise as yet. A recent petition #SaveFabric gained the support of 150,000 people, another petition to save the iconic Ministry Of Sound a few years back was equally as popular. Clubbing culture is very important to this country, the UK has been a leader in pushing music to the rest of the world, punk, drum & bass, UK garage & dubstep were all born here, and while house may have it’s roots in the United States, it was the UK club scene that embraced it and made it as big as it is today. The pen pushing councillors are seemingly a bit short sighted with regards to our musical legacy, hunting for the quick pound note that can be made from tearing these venues down & turning them into flats, instead of playing the long game and letting music benefit the countries culture & economy as a whole.
So what benefit does the ID scanning system have to clubbers? All venues using this system are linked, meaning that trouble makers details can be shared between all the venues in the town, effectively rooting out the rotten apples and preventing them from entering anywhere else. The idea is to rid the cities venues of undesirable people. Great idea, if the idiots can be excluded it makes club land a far safer place to be.
Unfortunately this also comes at a cost. How many times have you got to the club & realised you’ve forgotten your driving license? That’s your night over. We’ve all had a friend who’s photo ID wasn’t the right type (venues in the Westminster area are notorious for this). Who actually wants to take their passport out drinking with them? Finally (and this is the bit we hate), how many times have you stood outside a rave wondering why it’s taking so long to get in? Chances are the reason for the queue is that these machines just aren’t fast enough, not a problem for a small bar, but for a 2000 person rave the extra 30 seconds scanning each ID, plus the accompanying bag & pocket search adds up.
Also can we be sure that our information is secure in the hands of the people operating these machines? Vice did an interesting article on this very subject http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/are-nightclubs-breaking-data-laws-by-storing-your-ids-and-fingerprints
We are lucky in that our two biggest events, Innovation In The Dam & In The Sun, which take place outside the UK are not effected by these impositions so we are able to keep queue times to a minimum, but we did notice how slow the security checks were at our most recent event in London.
Love them or hate them, since the closure of Fabric, it seems these new tougher entry measures will be here to stay in the UK. While ticketing & entry systems for promoters seem to be getting faster with the likes of e-tickets & barcode scanning, the clubs we are using are being equally held back by these police & local authority regulations on the venues themselves.
One thing is for sure, no matter how hard they try to close down clubs, they can’t stop people wanting to go out & have a good time. Either councils can work with venues and promoters, like ourselves, that have a proven track record of putting on raves in safe environments, or they can watch helplessly as we descend back to the old days of illegal raves in squatted warehouses.
How do you feel about the future of clubbing in the UK? Do you think ID scanning is a positive thing? Do you feel safer in venues knowing that they are there? Or is it just a backdoor way of introducing the National ID card scheme that was rejected from parliament a few years back? Have your say in the comments below.
Words by DJ Ollie