Passing Clouds Forever
Words and video by Tomasz Frymorgen
East London's ravers, dancers, musicians and dress-up pandas marched through Hackney on Saturday in protest at the closure of Passing Clouds.
Several hundred people gathered at Hoxton Square before setting off behind a giant property developer flotilla towards the boarded up venue, in a fitting London version of a carnival. By the time the march reached Passing Clouds in Haggerston, it had grown to about a thousand strong, been serenaded by a punk band on a truck and had briefly invaded and shut down Kingsland Road.
Operating since 2006, Passing Clouds has attained cult status in London, with a reputation for cultural diversity, support of a wide range of music from diverse cultural backgrounds and sympathy with social justice activism. However, earlier this year the venue was sold to Landhold Developments, imperiling the future of a uniquely rich, creative hub; offering free rehearsal spaces, performance opportunities for young musicians and a culture of inclusivity. A genuine, creative hub for the community.
The organisers of Saturday's march were quick to point out that the issue extends far beyond Passing Clouds. London has lost 35% of its grassroots music venues since 2007. The recent announcement of fabric closing has drawn particular anger, but other venues occupying central roles in London's cultural history, such as Madam Jojos or Plastic People, have also been forced to shut.
The pattern behind these closures has invariably been one of rising rents and licensing pressure from councils in an attempt to cleanse neighbourhoods of their cultural riches; the places where young people can truly express and enjoy themselves.
It’s demonstrations and marches like these that are integral to fighting to save London’s night time culture. With the recent issues faced by fabric and further threats to clubs like Brixton’s 414, it is imperative that we make a stand against property developers and local councils sterilising communities of their culture.