UK nightclub numbers nearly halved in 10 years, reports ALMR

Ministry of Sound

The number of nightclubs in the UK has fallen by nearly a half over the past 10 years, according to figures from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

Its figures show that numbers fell from 3,144 clubs in 2005 to 1,733 this year, which leaves the UK worse off “culturally, socially and economically”, said ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls.

It classes a club as a place for “late-night entertainment, usually music and dancing”. Their decline has coincided with the rise in “hybrid” late-night bars but it has also been affected by licensing and planning.

Kate said it has become too easy for neighbours to complain if they live nearby even if the venue was there before they moved in, which has led to long-established late-night bars and clubs closing across the UK.

“People want to have their cake and eat it. You want vibe and to live in a cool area, then you need the other, edgier side of it,” she told Radio One’s Newsbeat.

The ALMR highlights the importance of late-night venues to the economy. Last year, the operators it represents generated 37,000 new jobs with over 80% of these for people aged 18 to 24.

Kate said that in some towns the nightclubs “are gone for good and we’re never going to get them back”, but drum and bass group Rudimental believe it is because clubbing trends go in cycles.

Amir Amor, producer and DJ in Rudimental, told Newsbeat: “I mean there was a hell of a lot of clubs out there and a lot of DJs – and now there are DJs on the main stage at festivals. They’re essentially still playing house music so it just shifts in cycles and it will go back into the club.”

Planning issues dogged Ministry of Sound in London, with developers trying to close down the iconic club because they were building new homes nearby.

Lohan Presencer, chief executive of Ministry of Sound, told Newsbeat: “I don’t think the number of people going clubbing at the weekend is any different to where it was 20 years ago, but I do think they are going to different places.

“One of those alternatives is festivals which are increasingly big business when it comes to live music and now the DJ scene too.”

There has also been a shift away from the high street with some young promoters putting on nights at industrial locations. “We moved away from running nights in the standard club settings and instead utilise different spaces,” said Hugo Moneypenny who runs Selective Hearing, a Manchester and Leeds-based night.

“The joy of it is going to a space that you would never expect to go and dance in. The big clubs aren’t as much fun for me because they are so regimented and there are so many rules. People are being drawn away from the big events because there is no intimacy there.”

Leading electro house musician Steve Aoki, who tours some of the biggest venues in the world, said that nightclubs were vital for dance music to evolve. “Clubs are incredibly important. This is where the culture has thrived and grown. Without those clubs there wouldn’t be those new sounds and new sub genres.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We know the important contribution the sector makes to our economy and the nation’s cultural landscape.

“The current regulations strike a fair balance between making sure we have music entertainment for the public and preventing crime and disorder, whilst keeping the public safe.”

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