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Omeara, new music venue

Rejoice! The number of small music venues in London is finally going up

Lisa Wright

It’s been a rough few years for London’s music venues. In recent times we’ve lost notable figures of the scene such as Madame Jojo’s, The Good Ship in Kilburn, Peckham Levels’ Ghost Notes and Dalston indie venue Birthdays, while Soho institution The Borderline will close at the end of August.

Controversial licensing laws brought in by Hackney Council last year, meanwhile, imposed a new 11pm curfew (extended to midnight at the weekend) for new venues in the area – another blow to the capital’s nightlife.

However, now there’s – finally! – some good news as, for the first time in a decade, the number of London indie music venues has risen. The count of grassroots venues in the city, according to the official definition by the Music Venue Trust, has gone up by 6 percent in the last year. That might not sound like a lot, but it equates to six newly anointed spaces in just 12 months: not too shabby for a notoriously tricky industry. (Check out our conversation between Sadiq Khan and venue owner Pauline Forster for a look at some of the challenges involved.)

With new venues including Dalston’s multi-level venture EartH and Leytonstone church-cum-concert-space St John’s Music Hall stepping in, and other established venues including misleadingly named Hackney fave Oslo and the Tooting Tram & Social stepping up their live music activity to meet the requirements, it could mean that the city’s music scene is finally settling back into its groove. Now get out and show your support!

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