Effect of Technology on Nightlife Culture

14552 words (58 pages) Dissertation

13th Dec 2019 Dissertation Reference this

Tags: Cultural StudiesTechnology

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INTRODUCTION

The aim of my study is to explore how nightlife culture has changed since the 1990’s. My research will be to investigate how technology has become a major platform which has influenced the growth and development of the nightlife environment, and the consequent effects it has had on the nightlife industry in the twenty-first century. The starting point of this research focuses on the historical contexts of nightlife culture during the 1990’s, underpinning the defining factors of 1990’s nightlife culture including cultural shifts, patterns of taste, the difference of the sex’s and their interactions within nightlife culture. This is followed by an exploration of how nightlife culture has evolved to adapt to a twenty-first century environment which thrives on consumerism, monetisation and social validation via technology and contemporary ideologies. This will be achieved using evidence of how music is being consumed, through: artist’s creations; events; technology in regard to the reception of music and also the experiences that are created by the music itself. Nightclub environments will be viewed from the consideration of a wide range of perspectives including those of government, by studying key events which have led to actions of a legislative nature which have driven change in nightlife culture in the twenty-first century.

THE 90’S & CLUBBING

The 1990’s marked a time when the idea of night time leisure went through a period of transition; this was a period rich with mixtures of culture, social paradigms, exploration of drugs, nightlife venues and a frequently changing music landscape. Night time leisure, before clubbing and raves became more popular, would usually have consisted of going to a local pub, close to where the attendee would have been based geographically. During this period, the popularity of the pub as a night time leisure venue would be mainly quiet during the week, being frequented more regularly at weekends due to people working. The pub scene as a place of leisure could be categorised as mainly masculine, reflecting the history of working class men going to the pub after work. ‘Historically, British public houses have been seen as social spaces predominantly by working class men and for quieter weekday drinking.’[1]

A substantial movement in the 1990’s was the rise of the Dance scene and this played a significant role in nightlife culture around this time. Many club attendees used the dance scene to escape the realism of the world they lived in by partaking in alcohol and illegal drugs. ‘The ‘decade of dance’ is usually used to refer to the period 1988-98.’[2]

The Rave and Dance scene predominately appealed to teenagers and young people coming of age, as the rave events that were created in the time of the late 1980’s and 1990’s had no solid or fixed place in social norms, much like the transition from teenagers into adulthood.  Such events in the Rave and Dance scene were organised by young people, who were coming of age and as such there were little to no rules at these events which provided the freedom young people wanted and consequently raves attracted many young people to the scene and culture. The venue also made up a significant part of this raw and edgy appeal associated with the scene, as the venues would usually be places such as fields, disused warehouses or places hidden from the public’s eye where a rave would not get shut down for playing loud music. Young people attending raves would not hear about where they were taking place until the night of the event, as a counter measure against being shut down by the authorities.

‘Nobody was in charge – The nights were organised by kids like us. There were no bouncers because there was never any trouble, and there was nobody telling us to turn the music down.’[3]

These events, and specifically the dancing, acted as a release for many of these young people, it allowed them to escape their mundane home life for something new raw, free and unplanned. The freedom offered by these events would often be used as a way to comfortably take illegal drugs without being detected by police or law enforcement agencies. During the 1980’s and 90’s social media did not exist and people had to rely on word of mouth as the form of advertising for these events, because they were not licenced and were illegal. ‘We’d drive to petrol stations to be told where it was happening that night. It was all illegal, and you couldn’t find out about them through any normal channels – it was the late 1980s and nobody had mobiles.’[4]

Nightclubs and Clubbing also grew in popularity in the 1990’s, although at first people did not embrace nightclubs, as this was a new social construct for their night time activities and leisure. However these places eventually became popular for nights-out. Nightclubs offered something different to the traditional night out at the pub, these places were gender neutral spaces. Initially men felt inferior and had inhibitions around the dancing that occurred in these establishments but this began to change over time.

Dance re-emerged as a mass form of social experience, particularly amongst men, and the majority of them had spent the preceding years standing round in clubs, clutching pints, watching women groove around their handbags and fearing that dancing would emasculate them and leave them open to ridicule by their peers.[5]

Dancing was a pivotal component to the 1990’s clubbing and nightlife culture; it was one of the key ingredients of a night-out and provided people with a socially shared, genderless, raceless, abstract platform of self-expression, interpretation, exploration and style. ‘In it together and the general air of delirium granted both genders an increased sense of freedom on the dance floor as the sheer sexual and sensual aspects of dance re-surfaced via this on-going liberation of the body.’[6]

Patrons to the nightclubs would dress up in smart clothes to make the evening out an occasion, and the design and interior of these places were visually spectacular and flamboyant. This environment gave the feeling of glamour and class which contrasted with the connotations associated with the traditional local pub. ‘Everyone is dressed to impress; groups of girls in high heels and miniskirts, young men wearing black dress shoes, slacks and button-shirts. The atmosphere is heavy with glamour and sex.’[7]

Some of the key features involved with clubbing and nightclubs were the licensed bars which served varieties of alcoholic beverages; the dance floor where people would gather and dance and the Disk Jockey (DJ) who would play music for the venue and whose role was to keep the occupants of the social night leisure space entertained. ‘The clubs where people danced with such abandon that they forgot who they were, the discos where new musical forms began to grow from the chemistry between DJ and crowd.’[8]

Drugs were a predominant feature in clubbing and nightlife culture during the 1990’s and helped people lose their inhibitions and helped them relax. Drugs have woven themselves into the social constructs of nightlife and the abuse of certain substances has even been categorised as ‘club drugs’, however, alcohol still holds reign as the most popular drug, due to its legal availability and easily accessible.

The use of alcohol and/or illicit drugs have also been discussed as a distinguishing feature of specific British youth subcultures from the cocaine girls of the 1920’s … to the amphetamine-consuming mods of the 1960’s … and the punks and skinheads of the 1970’s.[9]

MANCHESTER

After significant loss to the North of England’s industrial roots due to cheaper methods of production in manufacturing industries and importations from abroad, a new industry in the North came to the fore and this was in the form of music. The era of punk was born and it gave Manchester an opportunity to develop a new industry in music and gave back the spark to the city. Manchester really made a name for itself with bands such as Joy Division and the Buzzcocks. This new economy of music had a series of benefits for the city and specifically for the young adults and students as it provided them nightly entertainment whilst this developing scene from punk rock bands to electronic and live bands fuelled a new economy and social structure. ‘Punk sparked off the music scene in Manchester. Music was the first sign of the regeneration of the North; musical achievement, even before the Hacienda, gave us the self-confidence.’[10]

Manchester can be said to be one of the most influential and recognised places for its nightlife and clubbing scene. In the 1970’s Manchester was a city of working class people with heavy ties to industrialism with jobs in steel, shipbuilding, engineering and textiles. The impact of these industries drastically diminishing in size led to the factories and sites entering a period of stagnation and deteriorated. However this was not the end of these sites, as these then became the perfect venues for music and nightlife culture to take place in. The industrial factories and buildings had historical ties to the city, added character and emotion.

…a half mile from Manchester city centre, watching a queue build up outside Sankey’s Soap nightclub. The nightclub is part of Beehive Mill, built a hundred and seventy years ago to house the biggest steam-powered cotton looms in the world. Ancoats was then a bustling district with a booming population of factory workers and mill hands, at the centre of the world textile trade, making a key contribution to the wealth of the British Empire.[11]

These derelict industrial buildings were given a new lease of life by this newly created economy and were utilised as venues for nightlife leisure and culture which in turn produced new revenue and gave nightlife culture a positive footing in society and in the community.

Clubs like the Hacienda and Sankey’s Soap took advantage of low rates available for using derelict industrial buildings in inhospitable areas of the city, and acted as pioneers. Back in 1990 the leader of Manchester City Council Graham Stringer (now an MP serving in the Whip’s Office) declared that the Hacienda ‘was making a significant contribution to active use of the city centre core.[12]

The Haҫienda was a nightclub based in Manchester and played an integral role in making Manchester synonymous with the nightlife and clubbing scene. The Haҫienda was owned by the band New Order; a rock synthesizer group formed from the surviving members of Joy Division, and who were signed to Factory Records. ‘Factory’s reputation was initially forged in the late seventies, principally by the position achieved by its leading band, Joy Division, who defied all the odds to create a small body of works of such rare, haunting beauty’[13].

New Order made their decision to own a nightclub following a tour in the USA, specifically New York and Manhattan, where clubs had a new aura and atmosphere which to the group completely contrasted the Manchester scene at the time. From this influence came the notion that Manchester was dead in comparison to the American clubbing scene, thus the Haҫienda was born. ‘The notion that people like us deserved somewhere to social-ize; and this club would serve that need. He insisted that, as Manchester treated us well, we should give something back.’[14]

The Haҫienda attracted many famous bands and DJ’s which in turn revolutionised the music scene and gave Manchester a new feeling of rejuvenation and a place in nightlife culture and history. ‘The Hacienda has taken its place as one of the great venues in music history, up there with the Cavern and Studio 54.’[15]

The Haҫienda nightclub was set up as a joint investment between New Order and the record label Factory. However the way they approached running the venue could be described as naive as neither the band nor the record label had experience in running a nightclub. New order and Factory Records entrusted their investment in this enterprise to others who they believed to be trusted friends to fulfil and run The Haҫienda. The way the management team operated the nightclub was much like the punk movement in the sense that it did not really follow a plan and it was out of control which eventually led to its closure. ‘Your friends are your friends not because they are good at business. But we learned that the hard way. We learned everything the hard way.’[16]

IBIZA

Another location significant to nightlife and clubbing culture during the 90’s was Ibiza, a small Mediterranean island off of the coast of Spain, which boasts hot summer climates for clubbers and nightlife enthusiasts to flock to in the summer seasons. ‘Clubbing is now also an increasingly international leisure pastime, and it is not uncommon for clubbers living and clubbing in the UK to spend their annual holidays clubbing in another, usually warmer and often cheaper, part of the world.’[17]

Ibiza has been a country of changing cultural landscapes since the early 60’s. The island in the 60’s was nothing more than a humble rocky mass in the Mediterranean Sea which had very limited tourism appeal, mainly to wealthy people and artists. During the 60’s Ibiza had a population of 37,000 people made up of mostly Balearic locals. This changed a decade later after the international airport had been constructed which allowed the tourism trade for the island to really boom. By the 1970’s half a million tourists per year were flying into Ibiza airport.

Ibiza is an island whose character and economy are built on the heat of the summer and the magic of the night. When the holiday season begins in May, the Spanish resort awakens from its reveries and opens its arrival channel to half a million hedonists, sun-worshippers and pleasure seekers.[18]

The introduction of drugs features strongly in the historical context of the island and relating to Ibiza’s increasingly popular nightlife culture, drugs on the island have had a positive correlation with the increase in popularity of early house music. ‘The spread of MDMA coincided with the first house music imports in some kind of weird synchronicity.’[19]

The club culture in Ibiza encourages tourists who enjoy partaking in psychoactive drugs as the island has a reputation and is sometimes called ‘Drug Paradise’[20] due to hippies from the 70’s experimenting with different substances there. ‘Ibiza was hugely popular among hippies and independent young artists. Hippies organised art exhibitions, formed bands, but also experimented with drugs. Consequent to the Island gaining the title of Drug Paradise Ibiza began to attract further lovers of stimulants.’[21]

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY NIGHTLIFE CULTURE

Nightlife culture in the present day is one of the biggest economies around the globe, with healthy competition from many different companies, from small and new start-ups, to seasoned professionals which have built recognised brands all offering nightly leisure and hospitality of different types and variants in this lucrative industry.

A number of ‘mega-brands’ emerged from what were somewhat humble beginnings, such as Ministry of Sound, Gatecrasher and Cream (Broughton and Brewster, 2006; MINTEL, 2008a; Norris, 2008a). These brands spawned branches throughout the UK and even globally. In towns and cities around the UK, many local entrepreneurs emerged, keen to take on these clubbing giants with their own imitation nights in club venues.[22]

In this new age of nightclub culture students and young people are at the forefront of the scene and are the ones who are important to the industry, especially in the UK where changes in law and licencing have meant, venues such as bars and nightclubs can stay open later. This has led to a positive correlation between young people and students who occupy these venues and who feel able to stay out later without the constraints of full time employment. Whereas those in employment are more likely to frequent bars as it presents them more opportunity to go home earlier.[23] Students and young people are an important demographic that nightclubs and nightlife venues need to cater for. This produces much competition amongst these venues and brands to keep up with the latest trends and what is presumed “cool”. ‘Stylisation and constructions of coolness appear central to processes of identification, with notions of the ‘in’ crowd and ‘out’ crowd, and choice of club night being crucial and, it appears, always relative.’[24]

Students in the UK became a key demographic in the nightlife industry at the turn of the millennium, with a rise in the number of students studying at university and changes to the funding arrangements from a grant based system to one based on student loans. This change encouraged more students to stay local in their choice of university and to stay at home in the sense of accommodation.

This lead to an increasing number of university students living at home, and studying at their local university, with a knock-on effect being even greater integration of students and locals within the nightclub environment.[25]

In 2003 a proposal to change UK licencing law specifically by extending the hours that permitted licence holders and licenced venues to sell alcohol, but this proposal was not implemented until 2005. This change in law and licencing made a positive impact on the UK economy and nightlife culture across the UK because it allowed for extended opportunities for consumers to buy alcohol at licenced premises including bars. ‘Young city-centre drinkers drive the increasingly important “night economy”, worth 1bn a year. They not only drink, they eat and they use transport.’[26]

Fabric Nightclub has been considered an icon for House and Drum and Bass music for 18 years and has built a good reputation amongst attendees of the venue. It has become synonymous with good music and culture in London and Fabric over the years has hosted many big names in music at the venue such as Annie Mac, Congo Natty, Calyx & TeeBee, Chase and Status, Friction, Goldie to name a few. Saul from Chase and Status has said that this club is important for bringing new music to the fore and this is an establishment rich in historical music culture ‘For us alone, the history of Fabric is through the roof – let alone other genres and other scenes that have basically been built within those four walls.’ He goes onto say that ‘Drum & Bass, Jungle, Grime, Big Beat, you name it, was all birthed in these clubs.’[27]

Fabric offered something different from other nightclubs and invested in technology to provide a more immersive environment for its attendees and this was the Bodysonic dance floor. The dance floor makes use of 450 bass transducers which are attached to the dance floor and these produce and project bass frequencies from the music being played. This technology provides attendees with a whole new sensory experience as the bass frequencies can be felt running through their skeletons via their feet.[28]

The nightclub Fabric came under scrutiny in the press in 2016 for occurrences in the club involving drugs which led to two teenager’s deaths. These teenagers were not well informed of the drugs that were consumed or the effects which subsequently led to their deaths. The BBC reported from the coroner’s court hearing that the coroner concluded the death of one of the victims could be attributed to naïve drug use and stated that it was a case of “recreational drug use gone wrong”.’[29]

Following these deaths in Fabric nightclub, the venue was closed for a period and the licence for the club was revoked by the Islington Council who referred to the club as a place for a ‘culture of drug use.’[30]

A number of artists and DJ’s voiced their opinions on the closure of Fabric, via social media outlets and seriously disagreed with the revoking of the licence. They believed that the fault lay with the people abusing drugs at the venue rather than the nightclub itself being to blame. ‘Saul Milton from Chase and Status said that drug laws in the UK needed to be looked at because venues shouldn’t be “in trouble” for the actions of individuals.’[31]

Social media has played a significant role in gathering support to challenge the revoking of the licence by Islington Council by the creation and promotion of a petition to re-open the nightclub. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed his opinions on the revoking and closure of Fabric nightclub and offered opinion as to how significant the nightclub is to London’s culture and nightlife economy. Sadiq Khan also expressed concerns that with this closure it would be harder for the 24hr city proposal to come to fruition as in the last 8 years London has lost half of its nightclubs and 40% of its music venues. ‘London’s iconic clubs are an essential part of our cultural landscape and this decline must stop if London is to retain its status as a 24hr city with a world-class nightlife.’[32]

Fabric was eventually re-opened four months after it was closed as Islington Council and the police reached an agreement with new licencing terms for the nightclub which had to be met in order for the nightclub to re-open. The Islington police made it clear that it was never their intention for the club to be shut down as they understood that it has great significance to the many attendees, DJ’s and artists who perform there. ‘Ollie Beavis tweeted that “half the reason I started DJing was to play Fabric”. He added that “it’s like Wembley closing for a young footballer”.’[33]

The new set of rules and regulations created and discussed by the Islington police and council which Fabric had to adhere to, to re-open the venue were:

  • The use of a new ID scanning system on entry to the club.
  • Enhanced searching procedures and controls.
  • Covert surveillance within the club.
  • Life-time bans for anyone found in possession of drugs, whether on entry or within the club.
  • Life-time bans for anyone trying to buy drugs in the club.
  • Enhanced monitoring and external auditing for compliance against procedures.
  • Physical changes to the club, including improved lighting and additional CCTV provision.
  • A new security company.
  • Persons under 19 years of age shall not be permitted to be on the premises as a customer or guest from 8pm on a Friday until 8am on the following Monday or on any day during the hours that the operators promote a Core Club Night.[34]

The consequences from the threatened permanent closure of Fabric was to rethink licencing policies to provide a safer environment for clubbing to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century at an iconic venue which can be used as a blueprint for licencing and policing of other prospective venues across the country. Also a by-product from this issue has been that policing and regulatory parties have come together to negotiate solutions with club owners to tackle contemporary issues around and involved in the nightlife culture, with a focus on entertainment in safe regulated environments.

Alongside the challenges faced by changes in regulations and licencing to keep up with the contemporary environment that nightclubs reside in, there has also been a need for more housing and offices spaces across the country which has meant that some famous and iconic venues and nightclubs have been sold and closed for redevelopment. Although the nightlife industry has been around for many years the industry is one where many emerging problems are frequent and there is a constant need for adaptation for the survival of this industry. The constant occurring problems for this industry have led to the demise of certain nightclubs and venues, these variables or factors are the licencing and policing of these environments, health and safety of attendees, moral panic from the public due to concerns arising from attendee’s nightclubs and their pursuits and from geographical locations of where the nightclub resides.[35]

The table is a compilation of nightclubs which have closed since 2010 in London.

Nightclub Operating dates Types of music Reason for closure
Madam Jojo’s (Soho) From 1960 – 2016 Burlesque and Cabaret Due to a serious violent incident.
The Fringe (Brixton) From 1981 – 2010 New Romantics Closure due to financial problems.
Cable (London Bridge) From 2009 – 2013 Bass Redevelopment
Plastic People (Shoreditch) From 2000 – 2015 Dubstep Redevelopment
SeOne (London Bridge) From 2002 – 2010 Versatile Dance music Closure due to financial problems.
Mass & Babalou (Brixton) From 1996 – 2012 Dubstep Closure due to financial problems.
Matter (Greenwich) From 2008 – 2010 Electronic dance music Closure due to financial problems
Fabric (Farringdon) From 1999 – 2016/ Re-opened Flexible music Closure due to licencing problems.

Source: The Guardian[36]

THE 24 HOUR CITY

A recent and new idea that is being proposed for London by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, is to turn London into a 24 hour city. This would be in keeping with contemporary ideologies and the notion that the night is half of the day; many other cities are already pursuing this 24 hour city scheme for example Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam to name a few. This new time schedule of business would offer new jobs and revenue in an already lucrative economy by providing a city which is open 24 hours to everyone from tourists to local residents. This new proposal would also bring more business to already successful and famous landmarks, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, music venues, clubs and bars. ‘London’s night-time economy is also a big earner and a big employer. It brings in £26.3 billion to the economy every year and supports 1 in 8 of the city’s jobs.’[37]

The 24 hour London proposal has been supported by new infrastructure put in place in preparation for its approval, this includes the new 24 hour night tube and night busses. These services offer new opportunities in jobs and revenue for London and will also attract positive responses from locals and people who want to travel into and around London freely. ‘Night Tube services are opening up new opportunities for Londoner’s and will create around 2,000 permanent jobs and boost the city’s economy by £360 million.’[38] This provides an example of how technology advances are a key component to changing night time economy to a 24 hour one.

With this new opportunity for further business for the City of London, there comes the need for an experienced overseer or ‘Night Czar’. Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed Amy Lamé who has had a very successful career in the culture and creative industry, highlighting this 24 hour initiative as a cultural and creative platform for business and society. ‘This figure will work to ensure that the capital’s night-time economy and culture is fairly represented at government level. This is exactly what the city needs and will serve to bolster its club scene, which Sadiq himself has called “iconic”.’[39]

MUSIC IN MODERN TIMES

Music in nightlife culture has always been an integral part of the scene and in the ensuing years following the 1990’s and Rave Culture, new forms of expressive sound have emerged which include Basslines, Dubstep, RnB and Electro which are all popular with young people.[40] Strong links can be drawn between these new types of music and the young audience’s which attend nightlife culture in the present time. Music has a significance and relevance to young people and plays an important role in their lives because the music reflects with them on a personal level. ‘Music is also considered by many to epitomise their values and tastes, as well as those of other people. Music is very often a product of its time – both a reflection of the ‘here and now’ and a ‘recaller’ of memories.’[41]

The role of music in nightclubs has also been impacted by the rise in technology as people find other means to listen to new music, thus leading to a decline in numbers attending nightclubs. The development and the release of apps which have been made for music such as music streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Sound Cloud to name a few. These applications have made it possible to explore new music instantly, create playlists of music to the consumers own tastes and upload their own music in the form of playlists or even their own composed music. These apps provide a platform for people who enjoy the many different genres and sub genres that have developed over the years, to be able to listen to music which may not be present in nightclubs today, however, before music streaming apps and services became available people would frequent nightclubs to listen to the latest music meaning that nightclubs where visited more regularly.

In a digitally mediated culture, where convergent hand held and pocket technologies mean that multi-media access is ubiquitous, “live” is becoming increasingly connected to notions of “real time,” especially as people are also becoming increasingly comfortable interacting in virtual space. Nowadays, a “virtual-live experience” can be captured or undergone, quite literally, at our fingertips.[42]

PROFESSIONAL DJ

The profession of the DJ has a correlation with the integration of technology into modern society as technology has made mixing and making music easier and more available for many through the development of apps, products and cheaper DJ equipment. ‘With producers making use of sequencers, samplers, drum machines and synthesisers. The importance of these machines to the development and progression of dance culture acts as a reflection of how, as Shuker explains, ‘new recording technologies have opened up new creative possibilities, and underpinned the emergence of new genres’.’[43]

Many successful and more experienced DJ’s have learnt their craft through rigorous experimentation and self-teaching by using technology available to them when they were learning to DJ, this would have been a turntable which became a very important tool in DJing and has been recognised as a pivotal piece of technology vital to DJ culture and music.[44]

Social media and music sharing apps have played integral roles in supporting and promoting the DJ’s work and music and made their fan base global as these services have also made it possible for these DJ’s to give up to date information to their fans as and when they see fit and upload new mixes and music. Many DJ’s have been successful by using apps and social media as today’s world is a culture obsessed with technology. Apps and social media have enabled DJ’s to escape the club environment and become international by going viral.

The impact of DJ’s international fan base has increased music tourism around the globe with people going to events to watch their shows, for example Tiesto who is a Dutch DJ with a career spanning over 15years and is now a resident DJ at Hakkasan Nightclub in Las Vegas. His residency follows his success in Electronic Dance Music over many years, and he is known for creating sell-out events due to his status via social media and being one the biggest names in Electronic Dance Music. Tiesto’s residency doesn’t just include the nightclub Hakkasan as he also performs at certain festivals such as Creamfields in the UK and Tomorrowland in Belgium annually.

DIGITAL MEDIA IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY

Technology is a significant driver in modern day culture and greatly influences the world around us through status updates, tweets, picture postings, apps and through likes and approval from followings on social media. Many businesses in the twenty-first century are taking advantage of using social media, apps and monetised digital services to boost sales, create interest, influence and advertise. As smart phones have become ever more present and cheaper, making them more affordable and widely available, apps and digital media have had strong influences on young people and how they conduct themselves and the way they run their lives.

The ‘me media’ environment places ‘ME’ at the centre of a media universe. Such technology enables the obliteration of the unwanted, a detachment from place and a preference for interaction divorced from space. Thus, choice of community is available based on similarity, common interests, values, and relevance.[45]

In the contemporary environment, in which nightlife culture resides, links should be drawn and made about the important role social media technology plays in influencing all aspects of the nightlife economy. The freedom of information and being able to gain information as it happens, specifically via social media, means that reputation online is very important to businesses, as is keeping up to date with new trends, fashions and technologies. ‘The cycle of fast changes from one style to another, works as a metaphor of the passing of time visibly shifting focus, moods and meanings through the illogical mechanism that throws a new fashion ‘out’ no sooner it comes ‘in’.’[46]

This impact of technology has not just affected the way business gets conducted but has also changed the psychology and purpose for places. Although there are many positive advantages for certain businesses such as nightclubs that use new technologies to help boost sales, it could be argued that some new technologies have had a negative impact. Before smart phones and the internet became widely available nightclubs would have been the place many people would go to look for partners, making these venues more frequented. However, with the development of apps and digital services such as Tinder, Match.com, Happn, etc. people are finding and using new ways to meet people and connect. This has influenced how people view and use nightclubs today.

It is now quicker and cheaper to find a lover than ever before. Scientific matchmaking and location based services on smart phones will drive the next round of innovation in Internet dating and changes in societal norms. The stigma surrounding Internet dating is dissipating.[47]

With the wide availability of smart phones, Wi-Fi and digital content available to the user through hand-held devices, many businesses have flooded these services, apps and digital content with adverts, and many products in the digital atmosphere have become heavily monetised meaning that adverts are unavoidable. Monetisation is essential for free apps and digital content in the twenty-first century as it provides the company and, or developers of the free apps or digital content, with revenue from those who are advertising on their services. However, monetisation is not always appreciated by the consumer of the free app or digital content. ‘In recent years the changing media habits of consumers, especially younger consumers, have caused advertisers to depend less on traditional media and more on other marketing communication activities including buzz marketing, advergaming, product placements, consumer-generated advertising and internet advertising.’[48]

A prime example of this would be Facebook, nowadays most nightclubs and bars have a Facebook page where they upload events, news, photos and advertising for the nightclub or bar. As people like or view these pages and posts, marketing analysis enables companies to pinpoint trends and create tailored advertising to set demographics. Targeted advertising is used to influence the consumer and patterns of consumption relating to drink lifestyle, fashion, venues or other variables.

DRINKING CULTURE

Drinking culture is specifically prevalent in the UK and has historical contexts which relate to the brewing, consumption and variety of alcohol, and also has links to lifestyle, cultural and social identities. The UK much like many other countries imposes an age restriction on the purchase and consumption of alcohol which is 18 years old. Drinking is a well regulated and safe guarded pastime under UK law and Licencing. Drinking Culture in more recent years has been fuelled by the significant number of young people who attend university as it is a popular choice and society has made the transition of continuing in higher education after finishing secondary school education widely accepted. Statistics show there has been a significant increase of young students. ‘Young people in England became 3% more likely to enter higher education and this, plus a one-year uptick of 2% in the 18 year old population has pushed the number of UK 18 year olds placed up 5% to a record 235,400’[49]

Types of demographic where young adolescents attend university have effected and influenced how, where and what is being consumed when drinking. These demographics have also influenced the evolution of types of venues where people consume alcohol, time schedule of retail and sale of alcohol, types of alcohol and also social media platforms and lifestyle choices of individuals.

Limited financial resources have led to a number of students buying alcohol prior to going on their night out as the cost of purchasing of alcohol at venues has risen, thus creating a culture of pre-drinking has evolved. However Kuntsche and Labhart assert through their research that not only are students drinking to save money, they are actually creating problems because the drink they consume at “pre-drinks” adds to what they consume at licenced venues, meaning that a large quantity of alcohol is consumed over the night, thus creating a binge drinking paradigm.[50]

Alcohol companies have created targeted marketing and product lines to appeal to specific audiences for example alcopops which are targeted towards younger consumers of alcohol as these drinks usually are full of sugar and are playful in the way they are branded and perceived. Alcohol companies are seeking to exploit lifestyles with certain products and ranges focusing on bespoke niches and targeting individuals with greater disposable income, with an emphasis on creating special experiences and to gain a perceived sense of a higher social status, for example specialty Gins, regional craft Ales, smooth Vodka’s, champagne’s and sparkling wines. ‘Alcohol plays a role in facilitating social bonding between people; a key feature of the Lambrini ads described above is social orientation in the sense that the Lambrini girls are always integrated into a group of like-minded friends who share a similar sense of fun.’[51]

Beverage companies and owners of nightclubs and bars have realised the pre drink culture which has become an integral part of student nightlife is affecting their turnover and have tried to combat the effect of this by offering either money saving promotions or offering more alcohol, and varieties of drinks. Companies in the nightlife economy have also created venues which have experiences built in to them so these attract more attention and increase revenue potential from attendees who visit, these include: getting a VIP status when at the venue which usually includes a booth or seating area away from the main crowd or secured for the use of VIP’s. Bottle girls are employed to show off an expensive branded bottle that a consumer buys showing that this person has excessive wealth, Cocktail bars employ specialty bartenders which make and build concoctions of mixed alcohol and soft drinks, usually in an expressive way and there are also specialty bars which will have many types of the same type of alcohol, for instance a Whisky Bar and are dedicated to retailing that alcohol. These services are giving people the status of being a connoisseur and receiving attention and validation they require to fit their perceived social status.

Hedonic escapism is often not an end in itself but a means of fulfilling deeper aspirations. Williams (2006, p. 482) says leisure consumers use their consumption to make a statement about themselves ‘to create their identities and develop a sense of belonging through consumption[52]

The introduction of the change in law and licencing, the Licencing Act 2003, in relation to hours of operation amongst bars and nightclubs was primarily driven to tackle the UK’s problems with binge drinking.[53] By offering more time to enjoy alcohol at a staggered pace the authorities had hoped to change the binge drinking lifestyle, however, the outcome has been that bars and nightclubs have changed their design to focus primarily on volume of sales by socially engineering people in their spaces by limiting the opposing factors which reduce drinking in their nightclub or bar. ‘Drinkers who stand consume more than those who sit down, so take out the chairs and tables and encourage “vertical drinking”; remove all flat surfaces and ledges so that drinkers have to hold on to their drinks; those who talk drink less, so turn up the music.’[54]

CONCLUSION

From my research it is evident that in the twenty-first century technology has played a significant role in changing the night life economy. Technological advances in hand held devices and the use of digital media can be seen as key driving forces in how people interact with and interpret night life culture. Through the evolution of technology and materials becoming cheaper, smart phones are now are widely available and people from a much younger age are able to understand and use these technologies. With this, sharing opinions on a global scale has become easier to do and has created a positive correlation between young people and pop culture, as these young people have a strong influence in today’s society. Many businesses from the nightlife industry have realised the powerful potential of harnessing data analysis from social media platforms to benefit companies in the nightlife industry through: improving user experience; creating targeted advertising; following up on current trends; predicting problems and being able to cater for a user which already so much choice. The data analysis provided to the nightlife industry companies is made easier to gather as we live in a world where people upload and share their lives online.

I believe the social structure of the twenty-first century reflects the theory of Darwinism with its effect on the nightlife industry. Many people voice their opinions on factors in nightlife environments via social media outlets, and the influence of the review and accreditation of places makes for the success or failure of venues and franchises which operate in this industry. These reviews and accreditations can be related to Darwin’s theory of, survival of the fittest, in the sense that a place with positive reviews is more likely to succeed opposed to a place that has no reviews making that place less desirable.

People who are born today will never know what life was like before hand held devices were the norm and the instant availability of being able to go online. These technological advances have led to the result of more choice, more opinions, more cultures and subcultures, followings, approvals, faster ways to create, develop and destroy the world around us.

In reviewing the case study surrounding Fabric Nightclub’s closure what was evident was the pivotal role technology and social media played in mitigating the problems faced by the nightlife industry. Support and challenge via social media against the proposed closure of Fabric Nightclub contributed to the authorities resolve to work with the nightclub to put in place a framework of measures to allow Fabric to re-open. This case study has provided a blueprint for what can be achieved in our society which heavily uses digital media and has shown the power people have in influencing things important to them, digital media has provided more people with a voice.

Through technology and specifically social media it has transpired that appearance online is a highly regarded phenomenon in our contemporary society. People now want experiences which they can share over these social media platforms for which they can then receive social gain and boost their social status. This sort of social dynamic refers to the idea of people getting bored of doing the same things and that once in a lifetime experiences are more likely to receive more attention due to the nature that it’s going to be something bespoke to the person and appreciation from other will be because that person has either experienced something new or similar to the people viewing the shared event.

Technology is the biggest influence in today’s contemporary environment and it has led to the change of many people’s lives as everything is available at your fingertips, there is no need to go anywhere anymore, speak and see each other, as this can all be achieved via a smart phone and the internet. This has affected the nightlife industry in the sense that people don’t need to go anywhere to listen to their favourite music because they can listen to what they desire, at any time or place they choose, and the idea of choice is especially important within this environment as it is the choice of the user which is at the fore.

The future of a vibrant nightlife economy depends on embracing technological advances, creating experiences that people talk about and want to be a part of. Music and Dance will always be important components to nightlife but need to be delivered in imaginative and evolving ways to compete in an ever competitive market. Success leads to success and branding and marketing through new digital media platforms of the future will continue to influence young people. I also believe that nightclubs and companies in the nightlife industry will also start creating experiences that are more finance and social status based and these experiences will be aimed to create more exclusivity for guests and creating a stronger social hierarchy dynamic. But whatever the consumer’s financial standing is, will determine the exclusivity they can afford, but they will always aspire to want what they cannot have and desire more exclusivity.

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Jackson, P. Inside Clubbing: Sensual Experiments in the Art of Being Human, Oxford: Berg, 2004

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Front cover and Back Cover: Niedlich, S. January 26th 2001, Disco, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/76344788, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, [6th April 2017]

Figure1: Tullberg, M. December 1999, Deluxe2: a December 1999 party at the old Hollywood Athletic club, steveaoki.com, [Online] http://www.steveaoki.com/music/31-incredible-photographs-from-the-90s-rave-scene-in-la/, [6th April 2017]

Figure 2: Tullberg, M. 1999, How Sweet it is, steveaoki.com, [Online] http://www.steveaoki.com/music/31-incredible-photographs-from-the-90s-rave-scene-in-la/, [6th April 2017]

Figure 3: Cummins, K. Description: their quiet offstage dynamic, their close relationships as band mates, NME.com [Online] http://www.nme.com/photos/joy-division-by-kevin-cummins-1418947, [6th April 2017]

Figure 4: Haslam, D. Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues, London: Simon and Shuster, 2016, second picture appendix

Figure 5: Harrison, P. 1990, Hacienda, Manchester, huckmagazine.com [Online] http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/music-2/lost-in-music/, [6th April 2017]

Figure 6: Fusion, Friday’s March-April 1992, Vivid, Flyer, Fusion- Vivid London: England [Online] http://www.ravepreservationproject.com/, [6th April 2017]

Figure 7: 2015, Description: An assortment of ecstasy tablets, www.mdmateam.com [Online] http://www.mdmateam.com/post/91058496286/thizz-or-die-its-not-every-day-you-come-upon-a, [6th April 2017]

Figure 8: Stratta, L. 2017, Casa Cinema Rave, Luke Stratta Photography.co.uk [Online] https://www.lukestratta.co.uk/nightlife, [6th April 2017]

Figure 9: Ginn, S. 2015, Ghost Fabric Series Number 8, Fabriclondon.com [Online] https://www.fabriclondon.com/blog/view/newsflash-a-chance-to-own-your-own-sarah-ginn-original, [6th April]

Figure 10: Jonas, C. January 30th 2009, Charterhouse Street 77a Fabric Nightclub, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/derjonas/3243991676/, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, [6th April 2017]

Figure 11: Katsuhiro7110. December 2nd 2014, Tube London, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsuhiro7110/15892990428/, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, [6th April 2017]

Figure 12: 16th October 2016, Social media on a phone, blog.inkjetwholesale.com.au,[Online] http://blog.inkjetwholesale.com.au/start-ups/exhaustive-list-6-types-social-media-content/, [6th April 2017]

Figure 13: Andrew, F. April 3rd 2009, DJ Tiesto, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/eloquentness/3410488452/, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, [6th April]

Figure 14: Eltpics, January 12th 2014, Bakhchysarai Market – TV Graveyard, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/12148760376/, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, Credit: http://www.eltpics.com/ [6th April 2017]

Figure 15: Dobson, J. August 19th 2014, Empties, www.flickr.com, [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejamiedobson/14967547602/, CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode, [6th April 2017]

Figure 16: Pictures of Money, July 31st 2014, Money, www.flickr.com [Online] https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictures-of-money/17123240849/, Credit: CheapFullCoverageAutoInsurance.com, [6th April]


[1] Measham, F. Alderidge, J. and Parker, H. Dancing on Drugs: Risk, Health & Hedonism in the British Club  Scene, London: Free Association Books, 2001, p . 22

[2] Measham, F.  Alderidge, J. and Parker, H. 2001, p . 19

[3] Tucker, E. ‘The Party’s over: How the 1980’s Rave Generation grew up’ [Online] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/10508140/The-partys-over-how-the-1980s-rave-generation-grew-up.html [20th December 2013]

[4] Tucker, E. [20th December 2013]

[5] Jackson, P. Inside Clubbing: Sensual Experiments in the Art of Being Human, Oxford: Berg, 2004, p . 15

[6] Jackson, P. 2004,  p . 16

[7] Evans, K. Moloney, M. and Hunt, G. Youth, drugs and nightlife, Oxford: Routledge, 2010. p . 34

[8] Garratt, S.  Alice in Wonderland: A Decade of Dance, London: Headline Book Publishing, 1998, p .7

[9] Measham, F. Alderidge,  J. and Parker, H. 2001, p . 21

[10] Haslam, D. ‘Manchester – Nightclubs & the City’ [Online]  http://www.davehaslam.com/#/manchester-nightclubs-the-city-the-times-august-2001/ [August 2001], 28th of December 2016.

[11] Haslam, D. ‘Manchester – Nightclubs & the City’ [Online]  http://www.davehaslam.com/#/manchester-nightclubs-the-city-the-times-august-2001/ [August 2001], 28th of December 2016.

[12] Haslam, D. ‘Manchester – Nightclubs & the City’ [Online]  http://www.davehaslam.com/#/manchester-nightclubs-the-city-the-times-august-2001/ [August 2001], 28th of December 2016.

[13] Middles, M. Factory: The story of the Record Label, London: Virgin Books, 2009 .

[14] Hook, P.  The Haҫienda: How not to Run a Club, London: Simon & Schuster UK, 2010, p . 19

[15] Haslam, D. ‘Manchester – Nightclubs & the City’ [Online]  http://www.davehaslam.com/#/manchester-nightclubs-the-city-the-times-august-2001/ [August 2001], 28th of December 2016

[16] Hook, P. 2010, p . xi

[17] Malbon, B. Clubbing, London: Routledge, 1999, p . 6

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