It’s just a few days before Islington’s councillors sit down to decide the fate of Fabric. The legendary nightclub temporarily closed its doors two weeks ago after two drug-related deaths there over the summer. Since then, the club’s been described as a ‘safe haven’ for illegal drug use by police. It’s as though locking the doors to the venue will end all of London’s drug woes forever. The idea that it’s ‘goodbye Fabric, goodbye narcotics’ is just totally wrong though.
While the deaths at Fabric are tragic, shutting the club isn’t going to stop people taking drugs. This year’s Global Drug Survey showed a rise in the use of MDMA by British clubbers from 63% of people surveyed to 80%, and that numbers of people doing MDMA and coke have risen around the world over the past three years.
People are taking drugs everywhere: old man pubs, bouji street food markets, their own houses. Walk from the City up Shoreditch High Street on a Friday night and you’ll see teenagers smoking weed, glassy-eyed bankers passing wraps between themselves and students chatting energetically in queues for bars, pupils big like saucers.
In fact, while London’s lost 50% of its bars and clubs over the past eight years, our city’s still managed to remain the cocaine capital of Europe for two years running according to analysis by the EU's drug monitoring agency. The Sun’s regular ‘swabbing places of note for coke’ feature has found traces in St Paul’s Cathedral, Harry Potter World, the Houses of Commons and Lords, Gala Bingo in Basildon and Mecca Bingo in Romford... Just last year a viral video surfaced of a guy appearing to do coke on the tube. Plus, London has higher arrests for drug driving than anywhere else in England and Wales.
This might all come as a surprise to you if your perception of drug users is grey-skinned Pete Doherty types, gabbling Bez types or ‘My Drug Shame’ tabloid stories. But it’s highly likely that the boring guy in accounts at work did a key of something on the weekend just gone.
MDMA is no longer taboo or attached to a sub-culture. Where pills were once the remit of ravers, now the powder’s mentioned in pop songs. Miley Cyrus ‘dancing with molly’, Kanye taking it ‘back to the first party when you first tried molly’. There was that moment when Cara Delevingne was photographed dropping a ‘suspicious baggy’ on the ground outside her house. Even Louise Mensch has admitted taking Class As and Boris Johnson has tried cocaine.
Shutting Fabric isn't going to stop people taking drugs - I can’t imagine Boris Johnson has even step foot in there. If you wanted to shut down all the places people do drugs in central London, you’d have to shut down, well, the whole of central London – and even then people would still do drugs. Once you accept that's the case, it's time to look at how we can stop people dying by making drug-taking safer, rather than punishing the venues where people take them.