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The Social: Crowdfunding plea as club that launched Adele faces closure

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 3 days ago Owen Sheppard
a woman talking on a cell phone © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

One of central London’s last live music venues is facing a “heartbreaking” closure within weeks, its founders warned today.

The Social in Fitzrovia, which has helped launch the careers of Adele and Florence + The Machine, says it needs to raise £95,000 in the next fortnight to stay open after a cocktail bar chain launched a bid to take over the site.

Music industry figures including electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers and Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis have backed the venue’s crowdfunding campaign ahead of its 20th anniversary later this year.

Ms Eavis said it would be a “disaster for the West End” if the venue shut, while Ed Simons, one half of the Chemical Brothers, added: “It’s one of the last remaining independent social, dancing, live music venues left in London. Developers want it for something less vital.”

Robin Turner, who co-founded the club in 1999 with three friends including one of Glastonbury’s artist bookers, Nick Dewey, said its closure would be “heartbreaking”. He told the Standard: “After us it will just be the 100 Club, Ronnie Scott’s and the Borderline doing any live music in all of central London.”

Mr Turner added: “We need to buy a controlling share of the lease on the venue. The deadline to raise £95,000 for it is in two weeks [March 27].”

a group of people standing in front of a store: 'Heartbreaking': The Social, which faces closure after takeover bid from cocktail bar chain © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited 'Heartbreaking': The Social, which faces closure after takeover bid from cocktail bar chain

A crowdfunding page to secure the club’s future had by last night raised more than £28,000, after being set up on Wednesday. A statement on the page says: “The 20th anniversary should be a point of celebration; not for a quick, tearful goodbye before the wrecking ball arrives.”

Mr Turner said Florence + The Machine, Lily Allen and Adele played the venue before they became famous. The Chemical Brothers played opening night and the club’s stage has also been graced by the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Vampire Weekend, Laura Marling and Wolf Alice. If the campaign succeeds, he said they would look to refurbish the club, originally designed by renowned architect Sir David Adjaye.

Mr Turner said the cocktail bar chain wants to acquire a controlling share in the lease from current leaseholder The Breakfast Group. But Breakfast Group co-founder Eric Yu said: “There is nobody prouder than myself of my association with this amazing bar in Little Portland Street.

“However, with the increase in property and other running costs we find ourselves in the very difficult situation where there are another 10 years to run on the lease with a bar that after 20 years needs refreshing and new impetus.

“We are currently exploring several options some of which involve calling an end to what has been a most remarkable journey.”

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