#WeAreNightlife Revisited – Fabric, with Cameron Leslie

NDML talks to Fabric Nightclub in Farringdon, London

#WeAreNightlife is a campaign that celebrates the night-time leisure and hospitality industry.

As part of NDML’s revisit to the We Are Nightlife campaign, we go to Fabric nightclub in Farringdon London. Cameron Leslie, co-founder and operator of Fabric, discusses with us his experiences over the pandemic and since reopening. He also details his thoughts on the nightlife industry; where the industry is heading, what’s to be expected, and what role Fabric nightclub plays within the sector.

A longstanding nightclub in London’s Farringdon district, Fabric has been striving on the grounds of inclusivity and equality in the music scene. A backer of a number of new music genres, such as grime and UKG, you can experience it all from their bodysonic dancefloor. Unisex bathrooms, a harassment policy and welfare information as well as all staff being trained to deal with incidents of harassment – Fabric is covering new ground in its efforts to reflect society. It has started to release a CD series from its resident artists and also collaborating with other venues to put on shows outside the iconic Farringdon venue.

Cameron Leslie co-opened Fabric in 1999 and quickly developed it into one of the UK’s most popular nightclubs. Cameron has overseen the refurbishments of the iconic basement venue, favouring the continuation of an industrial space that signals back its 90’s routes. In a similar vein, they’ve re-introduce a no photography policy, wanting to retain the space’s intimacy. A titan of the nightlife industry, Cameron has backed positive change and emerging movements, such as with FabricLive and Fabric at The Opera.

Has Fabric received any support during the pandemic?

Cameron Leslie lists some of the support he is thankful for, including The Arts Council Grant support, the furlough scheme during lockdown and the recent VAT support.

How will the end to financial support affect the industry?

Cameron discusses the “high churn factor” in staffing for the nightlife industry, explaining how people are leaving to pursue careers in other industries. The national insurance rises and the pressure on businesses to “soften the blow” the cost of living increase has taken away the potential gains made because of support over previous years. He argues the continuation of support is necessary and would be ‘hugely supportive’.

Has the last year changed your opinion on the nightlife industry?

Cameron says he is impressed with the survivability of businesses, but there might be a few putting on brave faces, unsure of the health of their finances behind-the-scenes. He expects more backlash still to come as facts come to light over the next nine months.

What does Fabric’s motto “NEVER NOT MAKING NOISE” mean?

Cameron discusses how the club is still impactful, even when closed. He mentions their recent actions online and their collaborations, causing people to look to Fabric for guidance and inspiration. It’s not about being noisy, its about being a constant presence for the industry.

How does Fabric differentiate itself from other venues?

Cameron says it’s never strategic, it’s about seeking out and exploring opportunities. He recalls the CDs series that Fabric continue to put out every month and the Fabric unlocked collaboration. More is to be announced so Cameron says watch this space!

Were your expectations for summer met after reopening?

The frustrations of the delayed opening made summer a tough time says Cameron. He explains that his opinion of the summer was changeable but agrees that, overall, it was a good summer.

What is Fabric’s stance on the emerging events culture?

He is interested to see whether headliner culture will continue on with the same strength. COVID seemed to negatively affect events, but Cameron expects post-summer and through festival season more people will want to come to venues. He says there is no one-set formula and it’s able to be mixed up quite a lot.

How did lockdown give you the opportunity to improve the venue?

Cameron explains how Fabric changed their three rooms; how each room has its own quality, its own atmospheres. Renovating during closure started a natural change for Fabric, updating lighting and music speakers. It’s resulted in a mini festival culture, where different artists can be available in different rooms, offering a breadth of experiences.

What’s coming up that you are most looking forward to at Fabric?

Cameron says there will be an extension of some of the activities they have been doing outside the venue, continuing this through next year. Cameron explores the idea of working on more than just one venue in Farringdon – his team’s perception has changed. He’s most looking forward to seeing what his new, considerably more broad team will be getting up to this time next year.

What’s next for the nightlife industry?

He expects an aggressive resurging festival season this year. But he reiterates that the future for clubs and festivals is still unknown, advising caution.

What’s been your favourite moment at Fabric?

He says in his 23 years in the industry, reopening last summer was probably his best moment. He appreciated a lot of the Fabric team returning after lockdown and pulling together to make the dancefloor a magnified experience. There was a release, and its continuation has reinvigorated Cameron Leslie and his team.

What advice would you give to someone entering the industry today?

Cameron speaks on growing out of old models, looking at shorter term leases and tenancies. Hybrid venues and multiple-use spaces are the new thing, and Cameron says the industry needs fresh new ideas in order to go through a resurgent growth phase.

Find out more about Fabric here and stay updated on they’re progress changing the industry for the better from the inside out.

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NDML has made it their mission to protect, safeguard and provide guidance to businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector. With inside information, case studies and up-to-date information on policy changes, NDML is a broker who cares about a business’s welfare and will celebrate their growth.

NDML is the broker that’s number one in the nightlife sector and we offer exclusive tailor-made policies and have decades worth of expertise. Our award-winning service is built upon genuine relationships, and that’s why projects, such as #WeAreNightlife, are so important to us.