Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Death of the Disco Dancers

Looking around Brighton recently, I notice that quite a few of the buildings laying empty and unused were nightclubs. It looks rather like the recession is hitting even Brighton's long-standing tradition of partying and hedonism. The Astoria night club apparently closed long ago, to be followed by a bingo hall that closed not too long after.

The Astoria: Disused
Of the nightclubs that used to mark Brighton's London Road as spots for clubbers, no clubs now remain. The 'Brighton and Gloucester' (which I used to frequent as an indie music stalwart) closed a couple of years ago, notably, in the wake of the Government's smoking ban. Following on the heels of this closure, the Pressure Point, a clubbing venue and centre-piece of Brighton's live music scene, went under. It is now a hostel for foreign students. Now, the 'Ocean Rooms', which became 'The Yard' relatively recently, has gone, leaving behind another empty former club.

Down the road from St Mary Magdalen's on Dyke Road lies another empty building that used to be a nightclub called 'New Hero'. I enquired about the rent for it as a possible building for a homeless night shelter in Brighton, what with St Patrick's Nightshelter set to supposedly close in April, and with a rent of £4,333 a month, it is easy to see why few nightclubs can seemingly keep going. All over Brighton, it appears, shops, venues, pubs and clubs are finding it hard to pay their rents and cover their overheads. Landlords appear to be content to allow their properties to remain inactive.

The Ocean Rooms now disused...
With such a need in terms of a lack of shelter for the homeless community of Brighton, how will the 'Big Society' come to the aid of those who society has seemingly all but forgotten? I expect that what David Cameron really means in terms of the 'Big Society' is asking the Churches to do what the State can no longer afford. What the Prime Minister doesn't say, of course, is that in order for the 'Big Society' of generous volunteerism to operate in any cohesive way, the very wealthy have to dig into their pockets and provide the financing of the voluntary sector in order to plug the hole left by the Government.

We had a 'secret millionaire' in Brighton recently. Part of the £25,000 he gave the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project BUCFP) was spent on a Rough Sleepers Guide for Brighton, directing the homeless to the many services and charities that provide day centre assistance. With the closure of St Patrick's night shelter imminent (so I am told), there will be no night shelter to speak of for homeless men in Brighton, this at a critical time when homelessness could rise with redundancies caused by the recession. Would the generosity of the multi-millionaire founder of care homes, I wonder, extend to financing such a project in Brighton? It is ironic that as cinemas prepare to show the new version of Brighton Rock, less 'rock' is taking place in Brighton, because its venues, bars and clubs are no longer 'going underground', as sang the very wealthy Paul Weller of The Jam, they're just...going...

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