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THE RANT: Keep Your Hands Off our Nightclubs, America!

clubbing-ukThere’s an awful lot we have to thank Americans for:  Breaking Bad, Pop Tarts, Marilyn Monroe. Conversely, there’s a list of things that ought to land the USA firmly on the naughty step: Miley Cyrus, Hershey’s, gun laws.  There’s much to be said for taking the best of Americana and incorporating it into our own culture but equally there are things that we just do better. Despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe, we have a lot to be proud of outside the Royals, and one of those things is our nightclubs. The clubbing scene has been allowed to develop and grow exponentially in this country and, even as certain movements have come and gone, the diversity and outright quality of our nightclubs remains. It’s one area in which we don’t need any sort of divine US intervention; so why the fuck are so many clubs looking to the US for inspiration?

Despite the occasional anomaly (Newcastle’s Bigg Market take a bow) there’s a strong sense of culture throughout clubs in most of the UK’s major cities. From Mint Club in Leeds, to Fabric in London and onto the behemoth that is Manchester’s Warehouse Project there’s a clear trend. Whether you admire the synth-driven Madchester demi-Gods that were New Order, and what Peter Hook curated when he helped spawn the Hacienda, the scene is one steeped in tradition. And whilst these establishments mightn’t be for everybody, you don’t have to look far to find somewhere more suited to your taste. Drum and Bass, Hip-Hop, Grime, Trance, Rock; fuck, even Gabba is still a thing in the UK.  What we ought not to embrace is the molly-popping, bud-swigging, bro-culture-embracing faux-hedonism that encompasses much of what we associate with American nightlife. The fact certain clubs in Hollywood have online application processes depending on how attractive you’re said to be is harrowing enough but this manner of chauvinistic body-fascism exists in most of the civilised world in one form or another. It’s obvious that this sort of social-streamlining takes place in most major cities but it’s the lack of alternatives to these sort of places that epitomises the ills of American clubbing culture. The recent Grammy Awards was a microcosm of what American interprets dance music to be. Daft Punk’s contribution to dance music cannot be questioned but their ham-fisted performance on the night did much to undermine the fact that dance music has recently exploded in America. Genres such as EDM, fads such as the Harlem Shake and arseholes such as Skrillex have stolen the show stateside over the past twelve months. Yet a world in which grinning morons like Guetta are held on a pedestal as the harbingers of bass is not one in which I want to live. In a country from which so much fantastic house music emanates, it’s a shame to see much of this being neglected in favour of EDM. Frankie Knuckles would be turning in his grave, were he dead…

A renowned nightclub in Newcastle recently launched a Frat-House night. Resplendent in snapbacks, baseball jerseys and with a stack of red beer-pong cups higher than the New York skyline itself, it ultimately bombed. The night was only ever designed to appeal to a very specific demographic and, fortunately, the UK clubbing scene represents a far more diverse range of tastes and personalities.

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