Have you ever felt your heart stop? Your lungs puncture? All your hopes, dreams and optimism for the future be decimated before your eyes? This was a feeling shared by Manchester students city-wide on Saturday 24th February 2018. A date that will go down in history as the day Antwerp Mansion announced their impending closure.
With nothing more than a photo cover change on their Facebook page stating “Manchester City Council Planning Department have issued a closure notice. Antwerp Mansion will be forced to close permanently in one month” the owners of Antwerp shared the tragic news with little in the means of an explanation.
Angry and heartbroken students immediately took to social media, with the news of the iconic venues closure spreading like wildfire. A ketty, sweaty blaze of techno beat blues. Why was this happening? What had we done to deserve such punishment? Is there a God? All questions thrust into the Twittersphere and Facebook’s echo chamber as bemused students tried to come to terms with their loss.
Was it the announcement or its cold, matter-of-fact brutality that hurt the most? Why wouldn’t Antwerp explain WHAT THE HELL was going on? Well, that all changed this morning when the venue’s Facebook page issued a lengthy and scandalous statement.
They claimed that Manchester City Council had ordered the venue’s closure with ‘no single incident that has led to this’ (unlike clubs such as Fabric and The Rainbow). They also added that ‘our premise licence remains fully intact’.
According to the statement, Antwerp were issued with an enforcement notice last September, stating that the club only had a licence to serve as a private members club, not a nightclub, despite Antwerp having been run as a successful nightclub for the past 7 years.
The venue also added that the council had deemed the nightclub (or members club? Or village hall? Who knows at this stage…) a crime hotspot, using statistics of phone thefts as evidence for their claim. Antwerp disputed that these statistics had been manipulated to seem worse than they actually were, adding that Antwerp’s security team have always worked hard to get lost phones returned to their owners and to catch thieves at work on their premises.
You can read the full statement here, although the general gist was that the council are wrong and Antwerp ain’t happy.
Manchester students have already started an online petition (in true millennial style) to try and save the venue from closure, having gained over 7,300 signatures already. The owners of Antwerp are encouraging students and Mancunians alike to sign as a protest to what they believe is unreasonable action on behalf of the council. If you would like to add your name to the ever-increasing list, you can find the petition here.
The news is particularly shocking after last year’s announcement that iconic venue, Sankeys, was closing after being bought out by private investors. Cheap and cheerful venue Sound Control was the next to go in the Manchester Music Venue Massacre of 2017-18, being demolished to make way for student flats.
What does the future hold for Manchester’s clubbing scene? Are we ready to live in a post-Antwerp society where Fifth is still somehow allowed to exist? Only time will tell. Until then, we shall fight them in Fallowfield, we shall fight them on Oxford Road, we shall fight them in Plattfields and Canal Street. We shall never surrender.