Promising London venue Unit 7 remains closed this week, still locked in licensing difficulties eight weeks after a man was murdered nearby in an incident unrelated to the club.
Initial reports claimed that the burgeoning nightlife hub that has sprung up at Cable Street Studios in Docklands would be shut down for 28 days following the fatal shooting outside Club Red on July 27th. It has however since emerged that licences for all the clubs in this former factory space—including Unit 7 and Club Red, plus underground gay, fetish and afterhours venues The Whipping House, Stunners and The Den—are threatened after complaints by neighbours. It seems that the murder forced the council to swiftly and indiscriminately take some firm action.
"The council just put everything on freeze," explains Unit 7 co-owner and resident DJ Christiano Pixeldot. "We've had no complaints, not a single one in two and a half years of doing parties here. Now Club Red comes along and the authorities are tarring us with the same brush.
"I have no idea when we will open again. We're involved with much more complicated dealings with lawyers and planning officers than before. We will formally apply by the end of this week and it can take up to 12 weeks for the license to be granted. We are really hoping they will let us trade in the meantime though."
The once derelict studios have been used as a cool art space in recent years, and Temporary Event Notice (TEN) licences have ensured that Christiano and friends could run over 30 one-off parties legally there in the past. Now, with major investment in the sound/light and infrastructure at Unit 7, obtaining a full licence is now crucial. But the recent success of the area as a whole could be its undoing.
Local residents have complained of loud behaviour night and day throughout the weekend in Cable Street including shouting, taxi doors slamming, broken bottles on the pavements and people pissing in doorways. These are problems for all club owners, but they now need to be addressed here before London's clubbers can enjoy what could become the new Kings Cross or Vauxhall in terms of a cluster of exciting nightlife options.
"We have a new strategy for security and taxis in place," says Christiano. "All the venues are working to improve this, and some are now open again. For us, there is no person opposing Unit 7 opening even though we're the biggest venue here, but we still need to work on all the issues together."
There is a lot a stake too. "We've put everything we've got into this. If it goes, our lives go," he tells us.
Promoter Richard Smith, behind such parties as Circo Loco, The Burlington Project and bringing Steve Lawler's Harlem Nights to Unit 7 also fell foul of the sudden closure.
"I lost a lot of money," he tells RA. "I was forced to cancel some events and move one at the last minute that did not work out well financially. It was very bad all round."
Richard is pessimistic about the current situation at Cable Street and the loss of so many other venues across the capital this year, but sees promise for the longer term. "It means that London is a lot less fun…for nightlife at the moment. However good things can only come of it."
Christiano clearly just wishes to get back to hosting great parties, like the full house they had for Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird party the week before the closure notices.
"London has been the capital of the world club scene and it's in danger of becoming one of the most boring cities in Europe," he laments. "If the authorities don't allow medium sized venues like Unit 7 to exist it will explode in their faces. It's much better to have people partying in a controlled environment than throwing illegal house parties or whatever."
In the meantime, promoters and clubbers will have to work out where else to go to dance in a city that needs the likes of Unit 7 desperately.