To all the moaners in society.
A soured society. A community that cannot live together anymore. People complaining about the smallest, most insignificant things that annoy them. The sound of children playing forces a playground to close. Judges have to settle disputes between neighbours and boules players, because of the completely outrageous noise of the balls clanging into each other. A skate park is threatened with closure because one family complains about the cacophonous noise of young skaters trying to land their first kick-flip. These are some examples of the daily complaints made by people who cannot handle living with other people anymore. When did this become acceptable?
The most damaging and potentially dangerous consequence of these complaints though is the threat it poses to the music and events industry. In my own, and probably many others’, experience I have witnessed countless parties closed down by neighbours’ cranky complaints. Single complaints now have the ability to shut down thriving party scenes. Nothing is sacred to the police. A city full of noise, playing children, festivities, dancing and socialising can all be ended by that one, perpetually obstinate neighbour, who is cynical enough to feel entitled to complain and ruin thousands of peoples’ fun.
Take my home country: Belgium. A fantastic club that used to regularly host my friends and I, Silo, faced closure because of a neighbourly complaint about the noisy ‘disturbances’ he witnessed on Saturday nights. The consequence of this was that this club, this safe home to hundreds of party people every weekend, had to close in 2011. A crushing blow to Belgium’s party community.
It isn’t just the small players that are at risk either; bigger festivals now face problems in ageing societies that don’t understand the centrality of dance music to youth culture. The world famous Tomorrowland faced closure this summer. More than 100,000 festival-goers, countless small enterprises and local businesses received severe complaints from a tiny minority of families who felt disturbed by such a big festival. Luckily for Tomorrowland, it won the battle this time. But next time it might not be so lucky.
Across the channel in London, the iconic dance-spot Madam Jojo’s faced closure because of a violent incident (that most say was exaggerated). Everyone knows the real reason behind the closure is the fact that the neighbourhood is changing and that the council and wealthy property developers driving Soho’s gentrification simply don’t want a late night drinking presence anywhere in the neighbourhood. For the very same reasons, the London institution that is Fabric has recently faced closure.
These are just some examples of an everyday problem. We do understand that a healthy society is one that works in social equilibrium. Where you should put in as much as you take out, and constantly communicate with each other, because, hey, living together is not easy. But mercilessly closing down venues, playgrounds and sports fields every single day is not the solution. A cruel reality is that many of these venues have been thriving long before the residents making the complaints moved in.
Why can a minority of complainers and moaners close down the fun and free time of so many people? One of the main drivers has to be the harsh economic climate that has gripped Europe since 2007. Research has shown that the negative, hopeless image of the future perpetuated by financial hardship increases the likelihood of a disconnected, inharmonious and miserable society; which in turn inevitably leads to more complaints. But the crisis cannot last forever. Economically, better days will come.
Another problem is the aging population in Western Europe. The baby boom in the years after the Second World War ensures that across Europe young, mobile people who use their free time to enjoy the city, the neighbourhood, parties, good music and each other are heavily in the minority. Older generations, those that dominate the political and financial establishment, see anything that doesn’t enhance their quiet retirement as an irrelevance. This has fuelled the legislation and campaigns against younger generations, and is sadly a conflict that we will face even more in the future.
Are there any solutions? Better communication between different generations would improve the situation immeasurably, and the government bears a big responsibility in this. If party people experience the closure of their favourite club or festival, an alternative must be ready. People have the fundamental right to stop worrying and enjoy music, dancing and each other and the noise of clubs, festivals and parties provides this escape. Silencing them is not the answer.
So, government, neighbours and people, please do not forget the youth!