I have never been much of a 'clubber'. My approach to Friday night has always more Bridget Jones than Courtney Love. It usually begins with a few too many glasses of Merlot at the pub followed by an elegant stumble home, a bizarre drunken cheese-based snack (crackers, chocolate, marshmallows...I have yet to find a combo that does not work) and a very civilised face plant onto my bed. Simple, effective, efficient. Clubs just don't seem to give me that same kick. In London I've only ever found them to be exceedingly sweaty, shockingly dirty and highly ostentatious. Finally, it seems like others are catching on.
The number of nightclubs in the UK has almost halved in the last 10 years. According to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, in 2005 there were 3,144 but last year, there were only 1,733. Such closures are a reflection of a claim made by the National Statistics Office that nightclubs are no longer 'statistically significant'. Amongst those shutting there doors was Bristol's Syndicate, who announced closure last August. I was a student in Bristol myself and although Syndicate was never my go-to choice (it was more of a club you ashamedly ended up in than one you wore your favourite lipstick to), it surprises me that a club situated at the heart of a student-populated city failed to stand its ground. It has since been reopened and rebranded as SWX, a 'new live music, club and events space' according to its website. Does this mean that being a nightclub alone is no longer a profitable and sustainable business?
According to the Bristol City Council, just over 35,000 students reside in Bristol - surely nightclubs should be thriving rather than closing. Aren't students supposed to be 'in da club' every night? Well, perhaps 'the times they are a changin'. In recent years, there has been an undeniable surge in the health and wellness market - heralded as 'the next trillion-dollar industry' in 2014 - and it seems that students have taken notice. The Times reported last year that the most common student purchases on Amazon were of a nutrition, exercise, health and general wellbeing nature - could it be that more students are forgoing hedonistic dance floors for chia seeds and green juice? Less 'pon de floor', more pon de gluten-free oatcakes in the library?
Or could it simply be that nightclubs are becoming outdated? During my first year at university, the majority of my friends and I would go out 4-5 times a week but, by final year, this had dwindled down to 2-3, by which time late-night bars or pubs were usually favoured over clubs. There is something highly anti-social about being a nightclub. At a pub or bar, you can actually speak to the people around you as opposed screaming in their ear whilst subtly wiping the sweat off your forehead. Plus, these days a lot of bars (particularly in London) have DJs or live bands performing most evenings and consequently, the need to venture to a nightclub to have a good time has diminished.
Popular venues with capacities for over 1,000 people seem to be taking the biggest hit, with The Fridge, Crime, The Astoria, Cable and The End amongst those in London saying goodbye.
Nick Nelson, co-founder of the designmynight.com acknowledges this, telling Yahoo 'there does seem to be a serious decline in mega-clubs in favour of late night bars or party bars. There are a number of clubs abolishing entry fees to attract customers; or at least abolishing early entry fees to get people in the club and spending.'
Indeed, most bars and pubs won't charge you extortionate amounts to get through the door while some on London's 'best' clubs charge up to £80 entry - and that's before you've spent another £15 on a double vodka coke. All that to then be hoarded onto a sweaty, sticky, overcrowded dance floor where you can't so much as wiggle a hip without knocking someone's drink or getting in the way of someone's selfie - seriously, I've been told off for this before.
Twenty years ago things were different; if you wanted to stay out past 12, a nightclub was your only choice. Nowadays, there are so many independently run late-night haunts staying open till the wee hours. Places like Mr Fogg's and Big Chill House offer more than a nightclub, they're modern, innovative and arguably have more appeal to millennials. All this with the added bonuses of no entry fees, no dress codes and shorter queues for the loo. Can I finally legitimise my aversion to nightclubs by calling them irrelevant?