Little did we realise that six months later, we would be spending our nights out straggling around aimlessly on a suddenly-barren dancefloor, queuing endlessly to get out into the howling wind and rain for the inevitable ‘quick’ one, having our drinks stolen/knocked over/necked rapidly since we’re not allowed them on the street, and then queuing again to get back in to the club—to find that even if the dancefloor has become busy, it now smells like a medieval sewer filled with wet dog hair and rotten cabbage.
Ivan Smagghe: “The physical effect is manageable but it is annoying when you play four hours and can’t have a fag. People need those freedom spaces, even if it is the freedom to hurt themselves.”
Surgeon: “Personally I'm glad that it has been banned. One downside is that the crowd can be in a constant state of flux with people going outside for a cigarette then coming back to the dancefloor. This makes it much more difficult to build sets that don't just rely on instant gratification.”
Miss Jools: “On a personal level the ban has not made me quit, nor am I smoking less. Rain, snow, gale force winds, zero temperatures have not stopped me taking my ass outside and lighting up. As a smoker and as a DJ, it sucks. But I have embraced it, learnt to respect it, and adapted to it. Ain’t going kill me to go outside to light up. Although one day the smoking itself might!”
It’s not just the stench that’s the problem, however, although interestingly, that’s the one aspect of the whole affair that non-smokers now dislike even more than the smokers, since their breathing and smelling apparatus is generally in much better condition than our fag-addled, tar-clogged insides. In smaller clubs (the lifeblood of up and coming artists, scenes, DJs, and exciting new music in general) profits are said to be universally down, with some punters choosing to leave early rather than complete the bar-smoking area-dancefloor-bar circuit yet again. Others are simply staying at home altogether. And unless you’re listening to the rare breed of DJ who inspires a slavish following wherever you go, you can pretty much bank on him or her losing the floor if they decide to ‘go deep’. All it takes is for a handful of slightly bored dancers to drift away, then everyone decides to piss off en masse, so each time the DJ looks up from the decks, they’re playing to an entirely different crowd. Bye-bye sense of flow, bye-bye artfully-considered set structure, hello yet another massively obvious floor-filler thrown on in a desperate attempt to regain the atmosphere.
In the short term, it looks like things will get worse before they get better. Winter hasn’t reached its bitterest peak here yet, and that’s guaranteed to kill off a good portion of less hardy souls. But who knows, other nations have told us we’ll get used to it, and maybe, for once, we whinging poms will grudgingly accept that it’s actually good for us, and learn to go without. But for anyone who lives in a country that has yet to implement the ban, my advice is this: invest some money into a local company that manufactures heavy-duty air-conditioning units. Like the tobacco industry itself, you’re guaranteed to make a killing.