OPINION - Are we still boring from Covid? Let's start dancing again in our great city of London

[object Object] (Fat Tony)
[object Object] (Fat Tony)

I’m not being funny but… we can’t start this week without a tribute to Stephen Linard, truly one of London’s greatest players in fashion. Stephen was one of the original Blitz Kids and influenced everyone from U2 and Pet Shop Boys to David Bowie. In 1983, the American press dubbed him one of the eight most influential London designers. I started Total Fashion Victim with him in the late Eighties on Tuesday nights at the Wag Club in Soho. It was the second place I ever DJed and my first residency, and I’m glad I had that journey with him. It really cemented my DJing career, all while doing it with a friend. So here’s to you Stephen. Taken all too soon.

Today I want to talk about London’s nightlife. I know I’ve touched on this before but I can’t stress how important it is to what makes London the city we all know and love. Since Covid, more than 1,000 bars and clubs have shut down for one reason or another. Insane rent hikes have made it tough for businesses to survive and a drop in disposable income due to the cost-of-living crisis are two of the biggest factors.

With that, our clubbing patterns have changed. People are enjoying day clubbing in unprecedented numbers. Many punters are holding out for festivals or big-time raves. Or we also see the rise in popularity of more intimate parties and dance brunches in central London — where guests have the comforts you wouldn’t necessarily get in a warehouse.

It’s that weekly clubbing schedule that existed in London 30, 20 and even 10 years ago that you just don’t get so much anymore. This is where we’ve seen promoters think outside the box and deliver really creative events that are helping shape the industry. You’ve got the usual players running gigantic shows at venues like Drumsheds which appeal to the masses. But then you also have people like Annie Mac with Before Midnight and Vicky McClure with Day Fever appealing to a slightly older or more health-conscious generation by offering some incredible clubbing vibes up and down the country.

Humans are sociable creatures and there’s no better way to spend our time together than to dance

Obviously you have what my team have done with Full Fat in London, which I like to think played a small part in this exciting shift we’ve been experiencing. To think we’re in our fourth year, more than 30,000 tickets sold, yet 150 shows later and we’ve barely scratched the surface — that’s truly mind-boggling and I’m so grateful.

The list of creativity we’re seeing in the scene is endless and what I love most is all demographics are being catered to. One thing I could never understand is why our scene had almost an age cap on it — well, that’s not the case any more. You’re never too young or too old to dance and seeing that reflect in the events on offer is amazing.

The weekly club format as we know it is dead. Gone are the days when you just rocked up at a club on Friday night and knew all your friends were going to be there… but who said it has to be that way! As we all know, everything in life is a cycle. Something is born, has a lifetime and then dies in order for something else to grow and take its place, and that means there’s an opportunity for that next shift. There’s more than eight million of us in this great city — what if we brought back community clubbing? I feel like we’re in a time now where we are bizarrely less connected than ever. Since Covid we find it all too easy to just stay in. That text message from a friend cancelling a date brings us joy instead of sadness. But that’s not healthy in the long term. Humans are sociable creatures and there’s no better way to spend our time together than dance.

I call on promoters to really get creative and start building exciting new nights. I call on big-name DJs to join me in taking a hit on their pay cheque every now and then and play in small cap clubs. If a job’s worth doing — just do it.

I call on you to go out and dance again and again and again, whether it’s for two hours or 12. Let’s celebrate one of the many reasons that makes living here so special — by uniting under one house. This is what house music was made for, after all.

Track of the week: Hatiras — Starlight (Jay Vegas’s Beam Me Up remix)

Fat Tony is a DJ and best-selling author