On 12th January 2017, favourite Manchester nightclub Sankeys announced it was closing its doors, leaving many club-goers shocked and in dismay.
When it was revealed that the Beehive Mill in which Sankeys operated was being turned into apartments, it sparked outrage amongst many who choose Manchester as their source of vibrant nightlife.
Many said that the forced closure was an outright attack on youth culture, with Sankeys East (London), posting on twitter (@SankeysEast) “We will not stand by whilst they take this countries dancefloors one by one”. A bit dramatic, maybe, but the Manchester club’s London venue has a point.
We will not stand by whilst they take this countries dancefloors one by one. On the 19th of January everything changes in the UK. Share this pic.twitter.com/nTCwRcci1i
— Sankeys East (@SankeysEast) January 12, 2017
Only last year did we see the closure of iconic London club Fabric, due to issues surrounding licences and the drug related deaths of two teenagers at the well-known London spot. The news spread rapidly, and before long we saw #SaveFabric, and a Save Fabric campaign, and after a tense five months of pressure from the public, the club reopened its doors.
The Save Fabric campaign got people talking. It got them realising that the closure of our country’s most beloved nightclubs was not due to the fact that many club-goers chose to put different substances into their bodies. It was a scapegoat. Our nightlife was under attack, with drugs being used as an excuse for the rapid closure of clubs across the country.
This time seems different, however. Sankeys in this case is not under scrutiny due to drug related issues.
This is simply a forced closure that feels both disappointing and bitter. Sankeys closure is not similar to Fabric’s, which sparked lively debate and opened people’s eyes to how to deal with drugs in nightclubs. No, this feels a lot less radical, more like a disappointing slap in the face.
Although the owners have promised to keep the brand ‘Sankeys’ alive and thriving, with venues across the country and in Ibiza, it still seems like a sell-out that mirrors that of the Hacienda closure. Knowing that when previous Sankey clubbers pass the old mill venue and see it as a block of dreary, unaffordable apartments is disheartening.
What is even worse is, this is not uncommon. The ALMR (The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers) which represents nightclub venues, says that according to official statistics in 2005 there were 3,144 nightclubs, with this number dwindling down to 1,733. The company warns this increase in closures will leave us deprived culturally, socially and economically.
This rings true more than ever in the closure of Sankeys, with musical and historic significance being side-lined in favour of property development. If this pattern continues, it could see the closure of more city favourites, such as nightclubs Hidden or Antwerp Mansion, which have sparked club-goers’ interests over the past few years.
The problem is, many people do not see this as an actual problem, blaming it on drug use or youth violence, or whatever. But like it or not, nightclubs are a part of our culture, they are a reason why people travel miles just for one good night in the city and the closure of them is an attack on this culture.
The closure of Sankeys is a significant detail in what I believe will be a debate continued for many years to come. Change is inevitable, but this will not be taken lightly.
The people of Manchester are a resilient bunch, and someone is likely creating a new Hacienda, a new Sankeys, as I speak.