Is weekly clubbing a thing of the past?

We’re now up to the third chapter in our five-part debate series, having already chewed over whether dance music’s too easy and how dubstep’s faring in 2012. Well, now comes the time to tackle a new topic – and just like the last couple of weeks there are prizes for getting involved in the debate. All this is powered by Hyundai Veloster, and of course the need to stay entertained on Friday. So let’s get stuck in.

In an interview with our sister site FasterLouder this week, Big Day Out founder Ken West gave a frank assessment of the Australian festival scene: “This is the reality at the moment: everyone’s suffering from overspending or lack of attendance.” It’s a diagnosis that comes after Big Day Out – with a Boiler Room line-up of Royksopp, Nero, Bassnectar and Girl Talk – was forced to make some major changes to its 2012 plans.

While the claim that “everyone’s suffering” in the festival market doesn’t look so watertight from where we’re sitting, the bubble has burst. From the glut of festivals that have elbowed their way onto the scene in the last five years, only the robust remain. In our in-depth Clubs Special feature series from 2010, all the promoters we interviewed were unanimous in the opinion that festivals had taken their toll on clubs.

“You can’t take tens of thousands of people out of the club scene over summer and expect nothing to change,” said Daniel Michael from Adelaide’s biggest club, HQ. “If people spend $200-$400 at a festival then for most people that means no clubbing for a week or two – or even the whole month.” Scott Walker from Brisbane’s underground-leaning Drop had this to say: “There’s no doubt in my mind that festivals have killed or seriously maimed the club scene. It’s a shame, because in a perfect world festivals should feed the club scene by exciting the punters’ appetite and opening their ears to new sounds and artists – but in reality it only causes people to become narrow-minded and not go out in between festivals.”

They’re both points that were echoed right around the country. In the near-two-years since that feature went online, there have been numerous festival casualties. So has that spelled good news for the club scene? With fewer festivals in the picture, are we seeing more of our favourite acts on darkened dancefloors late at night? The answer, of course, will be different from city to city – especially given the trend for some key DJ tours to visit Sydney and Melbourne only.

Adelaide’s Sugar is one club that consistently takes a punt on visiting house and disco talent that may otherwise only do the Sydney-Melbourne double, and we spoke to Sugar’s managing director Driller ‘Jet’ Armstrong in 2010 about how that can be a gamble. “Joakim played on a Sunday night in Adelaide two years ago and remarked to me, ‘There is nothing like this in Paris on a Sunday night, Driller’. The club was very busy and he was shown great appreciation on the dancefloor. We had him back on a Sunday night last month and he played to 15 people!”

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