Last Saturday was supposed to have been Reptile, the Goth club that operated out of the Minories on the edge of the City and where we’ve been many times over the last six years since it set up there. I’ve mentioned before what a lovely venue it is, wedged into an old railway arch just up from Tower Hill Station, and with a pleasant outdoor seating area for when conversation is more important than music which, given the state of most Goth music, is much of the time.
Apparently it was a quarter of an hour before the Reptile organisers, Vade and Arcadia, were due to arrive and start setting up on Saturday, when they got a call from the pub manager telling them the night was cancelled. They were not unnaturally incredulous. They carried on to the Minories, but the manager was unresponsive to any argument that it was too late to be cancelling an event to which people would be coming from some considerable distance, and they were left outside trying to post a message to Facebook and as many people as they had numbers for. The justification was that a silly joke had been posted on the Reptile Facebook page, with the legend, ‘Remember kids, if somebody offers you drugs, say thankyou – drugs are expensive’; the Stonegate chain which owns the Minories has, so the manager stated, a ‘zero tolerance drugs policy’ and that was that. It was no use arguing that Reptile doesn’t allow or endorse drug-taking either.
There was then unleashed such a cataract of invective and rage from the Goth community directed towards any online location which bore on the matter that the manager, if he had any human feelings at all, must have been thoroughly chastened. Nobody believed the given explanation, and it does smack of an excuse. So other explanations were offered.
That Saturday was of course the night of the match between England and Italy in what I understand is known as the FIFA World Cup, and the Minories was much busier than usual. Vade and Arcadia had already discussed with the manager how this was to be handled, in terms of access to the toilets and so on. Reptile had already lost to the football-fan crowd the outdoor seating and its use of the indoor screens which usually display a variety of alternative films. Could it be that the manager had completely underestimated the difficulties of combining the two events and had decided to get shot of Reptile to get himself out of a hole? Not very likely: to cancel, permanently, a longstanding event for the sake of a one-off would be so stupid a decision it’s hard to credit.
A more probable rationale comes from the recent presence at the Minories, every other Saturday night of the month, of a very well-established and profitable transgender club. After the traumatic cancellation of Reptile, Vade and Arcadia got rid of some of their frustrations by listing the run-ins they’d had with the Minories management across the years over this or that inadequate facility or lack of communication; there was clearly very little love lost on either side. The cancellation of Reptile looks much like the manager grasping the chance to get shot of a troublesome customer in favour of another event which promised more profit as well as being simpler to deal with.
Naturally enough the Goth community was vocally supportive of its friends. ‘You run the best club night in the UK, the manager must be an idiot to lose it’, and ‘Obviously loyalty means nothing to them’, were among the more publishable comments. If ‘loyalty’ is about good business practice and protecting your reputation for fairness and straight dealing, then such a statement makes sense; less so if you think it demands that a business lose money for the sake of supporting your favourite event. I suspect the hard truth is that had Reptile been as good a prospect commercially as people seem to think, the pub wouldn’t have let it go on such a flimsy pretext.
Reptile has now found a new home at the Archway Tavern, N19, which makes it even less likely that I and Ms Formerly Aldgate will be able to find our way back there: much too far away. Good fortune to them. However I note they’ll be occupying the Tiki Bar space in the Tavern. I kept saying Goth Tiki would be the next thing, but nobody listened …