Monday, 9 July 2007

London Paper 31

ON THE SCENE Chantelle Fiddy

It’s the first week where the full effects of the smoking ban will be felt in the capitals nightclubs. Despite being a smoker myself, I can’t say the lead-up to the ban had me wallowing in a carbon monoxide mist of nostalgia at a favourite club.
But somethings caught my attention – and it’s not the £50 fine.

I hadn’t considered the impact the ban would have on other aspects of club culture. While house and dance music as a whole is still commonly associated with drugs such as pills, ketamin or MDMA, there are a number of smaller scenes which staunchly advocate the use of cannabis. Now you may consider my point as slightly redundant given weed is of course illegal, but this is about reality.
How many dubstep, grime, reggae, bashment, garage or late-night dances have you been to where there’s no weed? Not that many in my experience. The first time I got to experience grime without the weed, or any smoke for that matter, was at the ICA. It’s gave a some-what clinical feel to the night, their stainless white walls and bright lights not helping the situation. And the first time I got to hear dubstep without weed, I left after an hour. Anyone who prefers weed to alcohol will tell you that not only do you wake up the next day without a hangover, but it adds another dimension to the music, often making it sound a whole lot better. Wistfulness I know, but the lack of weed in certain (nameless) clubs is as unimaginable as Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club minus the cigarette smoke.

So what does this mean for club culture? A lot of people will no doubt re-sign themselves to giving up the green stuff along with the cigarettes, while others look for alternatives. Will we see a rise in other drugs being used in London clubs? No doubt. Likewise we can expect to see more illegal parties, warehouse and field raves and a bigger underworld scene emerging (although don’t be thinking corruption on the scale of prohibition). Legalities aside, as a supposedly free country, we have to question how long it’s going to be until laws are imposed on alcohol consumption too. In the same way non-smokers shouldn’t be expected to chance getting secondary lung cancer, surely no-one should have to put up with drunks in nightclubs who can’t clean up their own sick and attempt death defying stunts like going to the toilet standing up.

If on the otherhand you’re full of optimism and would like to be one of the first punters to check out the fresh-smelling dubstep, head to DOTS at Plan B in Brixton tonight where, from 8pm-3am, Loefah, Jamie Vex’D, Elemental, Oneman, Subeena and Dot will playing the sounds that have inspired their musical output. They’ll also be live music in Room 1 hosted by Different Strokes. Handily, it costs a fiver – the same amount as that packet of fags you won’t need to buy.

A version of this article appeared in The London Paper (July 2007)

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