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The independent London newspaper

Music fans save venue from closure threat

Superstar DJ Fatboy Slim to play special show at The Social after it reached £95k crowdfunding target

22 March, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

The Social, which opened in 1999, had 10 days of frantic fundraising after the building’s freeholders got an offer from a cocktail bar chain to take it over

FATBOY Slim will play a celebration gig at The Social tomorrow (Saturday) after the club was saved from closure.

The superstar DJ had been booked to play at an urgent fundraiser for the venue in Little Portland Street, Fitzrovia, to help managers reach a £95,000 target.

The building’s freeholders got an offer from a swanky cocktail bar chain to take it over. But after just 10 days of frantic fundraising the magic figure has been reached.

On Wednesday the venue put out a statement: “It has been a genuinely staggering response. As explained in the initial Crowdfunder statement, the £95,000 was to help take the bar off the market and secure a stake in the lease which would give us a share of the business.

“Your incredibly generous pledges have stopped any potential sale and given us breathing space. Your help has got us this far – let’s see how much further we can go.

“All our love, believe in magic.”

Fatboy Slim

The Social opened in 1999 and was one of the first public buildings designed by architects David Adjaye OBE and Will Russell. At the time, it joined a list of central London music venues such as the Astoria, the LA2, the End, Turnmills, Plastic People, The Falcon, the Metro and Madame Jojo’s.

It’s one of just a couple of venues left in the West End to see live bands or DJs. But its crowdfunding page – which had broken the £100,000 mark yesterday (Thursday) – had said: “Rising rents and an offer to the building’s leaseholder from a cocktail and wine bar chain have put The Social under very serious threat. The bar’s founders need to raise money to buy a controlling share in the venue from the leaseholder in order to keep The Social open.

“Unless new investment is found in the next two weeks then the iconic venue will be forced to close its doors.”

The club owners are also looking at handing over the venue to a campaign group in the long term. It is also gearing up to put on the “biggest small festival in the world” – with a month of gigs, DJ sets, talks and discussions and exhibitions. These intimate shows will be captured for a film documenting the rebirth of the bar at 20 years.

The club is now offering “rewards” for donations including a “Socialism” T-shirt, described as a reprint from the club’s early days and perfect for “weddings, board meetings, protests and rallies”.

Three-hundred pounds will bag you books from publishers Faber and Faber. And Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire’s guitar is up for grabs for £750. The instrument is signed by him and the rest of the band and has toured the world.

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