The debate raged this week in the York Vision newsroom* as to whether or not to report on the latest rumours that York’s Willow nightclub would be shutting down later this month. Not being the first time that rumours of Willow’s closure have arisen, many were understandably uninterested, seeing it as simply yet another publicity stunt engineered by owner Tommy Fong. Others thought that the rumours were newsworthy nonetheless, and that endorsement from the CBeebies-presenter-in-waiting and YUSU Activities Officer Chris Wall was persuasive enough evidence. Putting all this aside, at that point in time everyone already knew the news, making the issue redundant. However, whether we should care if it stays open, or shuts, is a more pressing issue to address.
“Willow is symptomatic of our oppressive, capitalist, consumerist culture,” is something that Russell Brand may say, and a lazy, factually incorrect quote that I might make up, but the point remains true. In an age where wants have never been more infinite, The Willow Disco is the extra that you could live without, but might as well have if it’s there. Imagine a parallel Willow-less universe where students just went home after a night out. A confusing idea, but makes sense I guess. A walk home with your mates will do more for your friendship than coercing each other into buying rounds of tequila ever will. Why should I buy this poor quality, possibly counterfeit alcohol when I have my very own dubiously branded liquor waiting at home for me? Power to the people, Jagdbitter for all!
Apathy for the will they/won’t they over the closure of Willow stems from a general disregard for both the venue and its audience. Not caring if it closes and not caring for the people who would be devastated by its closure. Therefore, if I want to try and win you over to the righteous cause of opinionlessness, I’ll have to dispel your Willow-enfranchising, bullshit faux-subversiveness.
‘Charm’ seems to be the answer given by Willow-ites as to what the draw of the Disco is. As far as I can tell, this is nothing other than sentimentality for events such as your Year 6 disco, probably the last time you genuinely had fun, before you realised how much of a self-important oik you would turn out to be, and didn’t drink to compensate accordingly. This ‘charm’ means that you only have to like the idea of Willow, Willow-ites revel in the poor facilities and goods on sale. Would I like to pay £2 for a warm Fosters even when I ask for a cold one from the fridge? Yes please! Would I like to watch the synthesis of body and saliva of two people who should have gone home hours ago but are still searching someone who finds this chaotic world as confusing as they do? Of course! Would I like to be subjected to hours of unrelenting dubstep at four in the morning? Who wouldn’t!
My main issue with Willow is the increasing infantilisation seeping into our culture (the most vomit-inducing example being “Adult colouring-in books” to which a whole section of Amazon.com is dedicated, look it up). This infantilism rides on the coattails of the nostalgia that particularly my generation has embraced fanatically, getting arse-over-tit excited for childhood television shows that if they stopped social media-ing about how great “insert kids TV show from years gone by” was and actually watched an episode, would realise that in retrospect it was pretty average.
Not to say I’ve never had a good time at Willow, but I wouldn’t miss it. After a period of reflection I’ve come up with a list of things I think that I would miss as much as Willow: cling film, cucumber, tennis, Florence and the Machine. Willow serves a purpose, but we would all survive without it.
*we don’t actually have a newsroom.