The War on Clubs... Or is it?

WORDS: Jackal Trades


Did you know that people are apparently using substances to enhance their moods and behaviour? in nightclubs?  In Glasgow of all places?  It`s not just good, clean taxable substances either like cigarettes and alcohol. It`s them illegal substances and also the legal substances that aren`t yet illegal but they will be once we find out what the heck they are.

It`s hard to keep up with all these scientists with their labs and their internets.

It`s almost like the rules which we made decades ago are no longer relevant?

Nah, it can`t be that.

If only we could make more arrests! However, we just do not have the resources or the manpower to illegally stop and search everyone in the city.  There`s too many bloody people and it seems most of them are sometimes on drugs of some sort.

Here`s an idea, why don`t we simply shut down places we don`t like the look of?

You know those not for profit ones?

The places that double up as community projects, art hubs, gig venues, cafes as well as the clubs that play music that isn’t even in the charts?

The ones located too near the city centre and getting in the way of other business developments?

Y`know , The ones that have inspired people to better themselves and create something?  

And there you have it folks. Scotland. 2015.

The war on drugs has turned into the war on clubs.

Not even the shitty, dodgy clubs. One of the actual good clubs.

A club owned by a not-for-profit charity that is located in the heart of the city centre.

A club that offers not only club nights but live music of every genre you can imagine.

Add to that a huge amount of arts, theatre, comedy and even a restaurant and a bar.

Ok the latter is a bit pricey but surely that`s no reason to shut the whole place down?

That would make as much sense as shutting it down due to substance misuse from a small percentage of punters attending a selected amount of the venue`s remit .

And make no mistake they tried to shut it down.  By banning any activity after Midnight they sucked the culture and finances out of one of our cities greatest landmarks which could lead to the drip effect of destroying culture in this country as a whole.

Will they stop at The Arches? I highly doubt it unless everyone learns from this and becomes straight edge.  But, without people partying there will be no more parties.

Scotland. 2020. `Remember we had culture? ` `Aye but there was people getting wasted and having fun so we had to knock it on the head. It`s much better now that no one drinks or takes drugs to excess`

Does anyone believe that people will stop getting high or binge drinking because The Arches is no longer available? ANYONE?

 People will move to other clubs, go to unlicensed warehouses or continue to do what they do in house parties.

Or maybe not house parties. Maybe alone in their flats. Is that better and safer for ` the revellers? `

You know it`s newspaper/ council/ polis speak when they use the word reveller for a start.  

This is not about safety. Anyone can see that is a façade.  The Arches is one of the safer options. There are strict checks on the door, paramedics on site and plenty free tap water readily available.

Safer than any other nightclub I can think of ever going to in that respect.

How can we make it safer than that?

More Police? Well, that would maybe work if your definition of `safe` reads as `criminalizing more young people for experimenting on a night out`

There is an answer and you probably won`t like it: education.

Educate kids the truth about drugs and alcohol.

No fear mongering bullshit. Give them real facts to make real decisions.

But that would take forever to get results? We need results right now. We have spreadsheets to fill out, targets to hit and stuff.

Well, there is a simple instant answer but you won`t like it.

They could set up drug testing equipment like they do successfully in Holland

Overnight, you could save lives and end the dodgy pill market.

Even a low life dealer with no moral fibre won`t try to scam anyone if he knows his gear will be held up to scientific scrutiny and punters will know exactly what they are taking.

People have experimented with substances since the beginning of time.  You will not stop people from taking risks and getting high but you can make that experience a helluva lot safer.

It is all about the safety isn`t it?

The Arches were told to log and report every substance found this last year.  Even so much as half a pill they were to contact police. These logs and reports were thrown back in their face at the last council meeting. It seems cooperating fully just helped the case against them. I would guess that if they hadn`t found enough drugs they would have been closed anyway due to not trying hard enough to find stuff.

This was always intended to be a catch 22 that would collapse the infrastructure of the venue.

An example of the authorities’ incompetence or nastiness was when tried to implement `calming periods` of Five minutes per every hour where the lights would go up and the music stopped.

What would be the point in that? All I can imagine is hourly searches of the biggest gurners. `He looks like he`s on drugs. I bet he`s got some on him. He`s not, Shit! He must`ve taken them all. Next!`

All the experts and normal people agree that the war on drugs is an international embarrassment.

I thought there was an unwritten rule that we agreed on whereby these days we didn`t discuss drugs politically anymore so nobody loses votes and nobody looks stupid?

Yet all of a sudden, we`re trying to ban more substances. Every substance. Apart from alcohol and tobacco obviously. The nation’s biggest killers undoubtedly but ya know.. Kerching!

And now we`re claiming to be shutting down a mecca for good times because there`s been reports of some unruly behaviour.

Newsflash! People are taking drugs and drinking to excess in every nightclub in the country.

So why pick on this one? It can`t surely be about drugs.

Is it anything to do with the space being earmarked for something which will generate more income for the council?

Are they helping a loyal customer who wants to snap it up?

Is it anything to do with the big development round the corner where party people will devalue the asking price?

Or are we really going to stick with official story of `drugs are bad m`kay`

We are sleepwalking into a city centre filled with Starbucks days, Weatherspoon’s evenings and G1 nights. To the people who `don’t like the arches ` you better tread very carefully. If you tolerate this then your venue will be next.

In these times of austerity people will seek escapism. It`s all many people have. There is nothing you can do to stop this. You can make it harder to do by limiting their options, criminalizing them for their choices and chasing the party underground.

But you cannot stop this from happening. This is a war that cannot be won.

I only hope that The Arches can be saved and we use this as a springboard to a new way of thinking about how we can actually make everything safer.  Shit! Even the USA is starting to decriminalize cannabis and is reaping the financial rewards…. and the war on drugs was America`s shite idea in the first place.

And if we all stop hating the Tories for a second (OK maybe not but try and multi-task for a millisecond) and realize that this shambles has happened completely on Scotland`s watch. What’s the point in an independent country with no independent venues?

 I know most SNP supporters are blaming the Labour – run council which is fair enough  but I urge them  to speak to all their MPs and councillors about The Arches closure as the silence from `Scotland`s progressive Left` is deafening.

You cannot progress or evolve without culture, art and music.

But we live in a world where money and headlines take priority over our collective future.