Two of the most popular nightclubs in Manchester city centre are to back students’ drink spiking protests by shutting on Wednesday.
Following growing national concern over the rise in drink spiking at nightlife venues across the UK, the two indie nightclubs 42nd Street – known colloquially among students and locals alike as ’42s’ – and The Venue Nightclub will close doors for the night on Wednesday 27 October in support of the boycott – which has been set up by members of the Student’s Union at the University of Manchester in a bid to get spiking taken more seriously.
Student nightlife staple 42s has confirmed it will pay staff in full for their work that evening, despite remaining closed.
In a statement addressing the decision to close posted on the club’s social media pages yesterday, 42 Street said: “After careful consideration, we have decided we are going to close next Wednesday 27th October.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, particularly as we have a lot of staff who rely on their income from 42s [and] as such, we will still be paying our staff for the night, despite being closed.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe on a night out, it is important our staff and customers know that we take their safety very seriously.
“This is not a knee jerk reaction, we have consistently put our customers and staff at the forefront of our identity.
“We support the @girlsnightinmanc initiative to improve the safety of people on a night out.”
The Venue Nightclub has also taken the decision to close this Wednesday “in support of the protest taking place requesting nightclubs to take more action on protecting people from harm”, confirming that all ticket holders for Wednesday’s event will be automatically refunded, and that the club is in discussions with the licensing team from Manchester City Council to come up with a solution.
In a statement shared to the club’s Facebook page last week, The Venue said: “Whilst we have taken a number of steps ourselves, nobody should ever feel unsafe whilst on a night out [and] we are in constant dialogue with Manchester Licensing, our Security Team, and our staff to do more to stop what is an increasingly concerning issue.
“As a Nightlife Operator, our customers safety has always been, and will remain, our number one priority.
“Since increasing reports emerged of these issues, we have already implemented a number of procedures in place to ensure a safe environment, such as increased search policies, welfare policies, promoting awareness to customers and creating an environment where customers feel they are able to report their concerns to staff whilst in The Venue.”
“We stand alongside everyone protesting that this issue must be given focus and eradicated from the nightlife sector,” the statement concluded.
The Venue also said it would “welcome all feedback” on what it can do to make clubbers “feel safer” in the future.
The decisions taken by the two clubs to close their doors on Wednesday in honour of the boycotts have been met with mixed reactions by students, who have taken to the comments sections underneath the social media posts on Facebook and Instagram to voice their opinions, with some welcoming and praising the decision, but others pointing out potential wider motives – including one Instagram user who said: “42s is closing on Wednesday so that you won’t be able to boycott them and they won’t suffer any losses and you’re all eating it up,” – and referencing alleged incidents during previous nights out in each of the establishments.
The Manchester-based boycotts form part of the wider ‘Girls Night In’ initiative, which will see protests up and down the country on popular student nights, with people being asked to help encourage leaders to take action against the recent spate of spiking incidents.
“We’d like a response from Manchester Combined Authority, from Andy Burnham and Sacha Lord,” 19-year-old Emily Bennett – Liberation and Access Officer at the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union – told the MEN.
“We want to see them put measures in place.
“We want to see them funding anti-spiking devices, making it really clear that they don’t accept spiking. We want clear policies and procedures in place [and we want them to] try their best to catch the people spiking, and to know that there is support for those spiked.”
Discussing the issue of drinks being spiked with Mike Sweeney on BBC Radio Manchester last week, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “It’s just completely off the scale.
“This thing is about again women and girl’s safety, you know, I’ve said before Mike, my daughters tell me some of the things that happen when they’re on nights out and it’s just it’s ridiculous. We thankfully – I’ve checked with GMP – haven’t had many reports of this, although there were some in the Fallowfield area at the time when the students were coming back to university.
“There was about five reports of drinks being spiked and we have looked into that.”
Mr Burnham also then added that: “This one’s for the men. This one’s for the boys. Get a grip, sort this out, don’t tolerate it. You know, we’ve all got mums, we’ve all got sisters, we’ve all got daughters. This, this is on us this one. Not on women, this is on us.
“Clubs do have to do more, so do men and boys.”
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