One of London’s hottest nightclubs, Fabric, just announced a new no-photo and no-video policy for its reopening. The club took to social media to express the following sentiment: “Fabric is London’s home for underground music, always aiming to create a feeling of self-expression on the dancefloor. So we are introducing a strict no photo and no video policy at the club. So stay in the moment and put away your phone, enjoy the night.”
The policy is reminiscent of a similar yet more audacious move from Berghain, the avant-garde of nightclubs in Berlin. The nightclub is so publicity-phobic that the club has gotten rid of all mirrors and reflective surfaces. Instead, upon entrance into the club, phone cameras are immediately covered with stickers. If a clubgoer is caught removing the sticker and taking photos, they are kicked off the premises.
Owner Ostgut Ton jokes that the reason behind the policy is to prevent the “buzz-killing indignity of people seeing their faces after an epic partying session,” the lightheartedness of which disguises a larger societal struggle to have fun without letting narcissism or self-perception get in the way.
Many clubs in Berlin followed suit, and so a no-photo policy is expected in the city.
After a year without dancefloors due to COVID-19, there is a deeper appreciation for the atmosphere we are slowly regaining with the reopening of clubs worldwide. Fabric is just one example, but many clubs are following suit and enforcing a no-photo policy to optimize all the facets of clubbing people enjoy: becoming one with the crowd, being able to lose yourself in the music, and dancing however you’d like, and getting lost in the night. So it makes sense that having faces glued to screens, preoccupied with capturing the perfect photo or recording the best moments, would be a damper to this goal.
A no-photo policy is not only to ensure clubgoers can have a good night, but also the DJ. Many DJs have voiced their support for no-photo policies. German DJ Anja Schneider once shared, “Do I find myself playing to a forest of phones waving in the air? Of course, and for me that’s a problem because you can’t see the people; you can’t see the vibe. You can’t see people’s faces.”
Still, there is an argument to be made in support of the presence of phones on the dancefloor. Photos and videos help us capture memories and moments we’d like to look back on in the future. Plus, there is a form of self-celebration when we capture ourselves having fun or get the most Instagram-worthy photo of the night to share with family and friends.
That being said, it could get in the way of everyone else’s fun when there’s a flash mob of people trying to capture the perfect selfie on the dancefloor. Either way, while a growing number of clubs are adapting no-photo policies, camera phones and social media are so integral to our day and age that there will probably never be a way to ban phones anywhere completely.