It only took four days of online uproar, accusation and rapidly increasing anger, but Sub Club managed to put out a statement yesterday in response to criticism regarding their use of the term 'safe space'. It's been a tumultuous few days.
A quick recap. The origins of the controversy lie in a post from the legendary Glaswegian venue's official Twitter account last Friday, heralding the club's credentials as a safe space, since "1987" (the year Sub Club opened, obviously). What was intended as a uneventful assertion of woke credentials by an eager social media manager quickly erupted into full-scale shitstorm.
A swell of incredulous users pointed out that, contrary to the earnest meme, they had been assaulted, groped and made to feel generally unsafe on the club's dance floor. This led to a fraught debate one Twitter and a resulting piece on the excellent A Thousand Flowers site, who anointed the club their Weekly Wanker, alongside previous luminaries such as Stefan King. In all earnestness, Subby have had better weeks.
As ill-advised as the initial comments might have been, it was the tenor of the club's response to the criticism that properly ignited the debate. Bluff, unwieldy and tone deaf, it ran at a slightly surreal angle to the sentiments expressed in the safe space post. One Twitter user who'd previously worked at the venue put forward that it wasn't just revellers that felt unsafe. Despite being "a big fan of subby," the tweet ran, '"I (and multiple friends) were groped there regularly 2006-2012 sooooo". The club's official account response ("you worked at sub, are a friend and know us personally. You never once mentioned this to us or stewards as far as we know?") displayed, according the A Thousand Flowers post:
"zero fundamental understanding of how the culture around sexual violence works to silence those affected, particularly women, (as) they're just straight up victim-blaming. How can you trust a club that declares itself a safe space but won't even reflect on what people are telling them about their experiences there?"
Which would seem like the appropriate time to issue an apology, reflect that legitimate concerns have been raised and maybe just acknowledge that the crassness of the initial response doesn't exactly read particularly brilliantly, at best. Would have been a start wouldn't it? Hardly perfect, but a little sincere contrition never did any harm now, did it?
Well, the Subby social media bods seemed to have missed that particular memo. The increasingly bad tempered episode then migrated over to Facebook, with a post on Sunday night that appeared to link the criticism of its initial Twitter posts with the twin horrors of Jo Cox's assassination and the Orlando massacre which claimed the lives of over 50 people. The status signed off with "It's important never to be complacent in the face of deliberate and poisonous campaigns of misinformation," with an accompanying clip of Heaven 17 track '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang.'
It's really quite difficult to envisage a more spectacular deficit in self-awareness and surplus in self-importance for a pastime that—for all the talk of transcendence and seamless ecstasy—is essentially meaningless. If ever a week was to make that brutally apparent, then it was the week just passed. The response to the post was predictably, and utterly justifiably, one of revulsion.
It's since been deleted and accompanied by the lengthy statement, apology and pledge to work on safety for attendees. The jury remains out whether it's a case of too little, much too late for one of the UK's most famous clubs.
You can read the apology in full, here.