London's Borderline set to close later this year

The Borderlin
(Image credit: Ewan Munro)

London’s Borderline is to close its doors later this year, it has been announced.

The intimate Soho venue has been open for more than 30 years and hosted artists including ZZ Top, Muse, Stereophonics, Devin Townsend, Debbie Harry, Joe Bonamassa, Enter Shikari, Lenny Kravitz and more over the years. 

R.E.M.’s 2019 Record Store Day release was recorded at The Borderline back in 1991, when they performed a secret show under the name Bingo Hand Job. They returned to the venue in 2016 to discuss the Out Of Time’s 25th anniversary.

But it will close its doors by August 31, with owners blaming “ever-increasing rents, rising business rates and ongoing redevelopment plans for Soho” as the reasons behind the decision.

Managing director George Akins says: “This has been a difficult decision, but given intentions by the landlord to increase the rent significantly for a second time since we took it over in 2016 as well as plans to redevelop the building housing the Borderline, we now know the venue doesn’t have a long-term future so it makes no sense for us to continue to invest.

“We’ve had an amazing two years at Borderline with some fantastic shows and want to thank everyone for their support from agents, promoters and artists to all the thousands who have come to the gigs and club nights. 

“We’ve put our all into trying to revive this iconic venue but unfortunately, it has been impossible to turn into a sustainable operation due to so many external factors. 

This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues

Managing director George Akins

“This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues.”

Management have retained the Borderline name and say they’ll be looking at the possibility of relocating to “keep the spirit of the venue alive.”

A statement announcing the closure from the management company adds: “We will reinvest into the other areas of its venue portfolio with £1 million earmarked for work on the Thekla in Bristol; the upcoming 40th anniversary for the iconic Rock City in Nottingham and work underway to open its first Birmingham venue while The Garage in Islington has just won protection from the council’s local plan following a campaign to safeguard its future.”

Gigs due to take place after the summer are to be relocated to other venues, with further details revealed in due course.

Many smaller venues across the UK, including Manchester’s Roadhouse and the Cockpit in Leeds, have been forced to close their doors in recent years due to noise abatement legislation, rising rents and plans to convert the land they occupy into office space and residential property.

In 2017, the plight of many small venues in England was highlighted when Arts Council England rejected a funding application from the charity Music Venue Trust whose goal is to “improve and protect UK grassroots music venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists.”

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson has also condemned the closure of small music venues across the UK and called for more to be done to ensure their future.

Main image licensed from Ewan Munro on Flickr using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.