Music fans take over Dalston club Passing Clouds after new owners change the locks

Kathryn Gaw
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London-based rapper Speech Debelle arriv
More than 200 people gathered outside the club (Source: Passing Clouds)

Protesters have occupied Dalston club Passing Clouds, after the site’s new owners changed the locks and announced plans to turn the venue into an office block.

More than 200 people gathered outside the club on Friday afternoon, before entering the building and performing a common law eviction of the new owners.

The Passing Clouds team has remained at the venue all weekend, hosting a series of scheduled events including an EP launch by Mercury Prize-winning singer Speech Debelle, hula hoop classes, and the venue’s famous Sunday Jam with Orion da Creative.

The club celebrates its tenth anniversary this month, but the festivities have been marred by an ongoing dispute over its lease.

According to the Passing Clouds management, the building was “secretly” sold to property developers Landhold Developments last year, with the assurance that the club could remain.

However, a few months later they were notified that the firm planned to convert the site into offices, effectively closing Passing Clouds.

In April, Landhold allegedly broke a written agreement to allow the club’s team to stay until August, eventually sending in a private security firm to change the locks “without court orders or lawful authority”.

Local musician Joe Strouzer told City A.M that losing the club “would be taking the heart out of Dalston.”

“I've been going to shows and performing at Passing Clouds for years now,” he added. “It’s a wonderful place and felt like home the first time I walked through the door,” he added. “They've always supported local performers and helped create the strong community of musicians we have in East London.”

Passing Clouds is one of London’s last remaining independent music venues. Its management team says it is now seeking a new long-term lease or an opportunity to buy the building with the help of private investors.

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