Legendary York music venue Fibbers may gig again – after it was taken over by the squatters who previously occupied land next to the Barbican Centre.
The group, known as the Barbican Community Centre, hope to turn the empty site into a café, library and music space, with social housing in the upstairs area that used to house the Black Orchid lap dancing club.
One of the squatters, Patrick Thelwell, told YorkMix: “This is our space now – it belongs to the people of York.”
Developers North Star, who bought the site in 2019, plan to replace the ex-music venue with a four storey office block, complete with a first-floor roof garden.
“The plan is to knock it down for office space. We’ve lost pretty much all of our clubs,” one squatter said.
The group have been at the Fibbers site for a week. This is already been at the site longer than the same group’s stint on the land next to the Barbican Centre, from which they were dramatically evicted in a morning raid by bailiffs.
“Fibbers is 30 years old, it’s an institution in York, it has provided a lot of people with a lot of good times,” Patrick continued.
“Not only have musicians been screwed over in the pandemic, but students have too. And they’ve seen their opportunities to have a good time across the city stripped down to nothing.
“People deserve to have a space to socially interact. That’s what we need. It’s a mental health issue.”
The site does not currently have running water and the group say that the electricity is “mangled”. While they admit the clean-up will extend long after this week, they hope to start running library events and providing free tea and coffee in the near future.
In its first home in Stonebow House, and later at the Toft Green site, Fibbers hosted some of the biggest names in music, including Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Years and Years, Kasabian, and Two Door Cinema Club.
The group of squatters hope to revitalise this legacy, hosting live music events, alongside poets and art exhibitions.
“Spaces like this, where you’re not going to be charged ridiculous booking fees, are really good for an independent music scene,” another squatter said. “That’s how people get their start.
“Now we’ve had this corporatisation of all music events, it’s places like this that are going to help independent, young, new performers actually get something going.
“It’s so much more accessible to so many different groups of musicians.”
We have contacted North Star to ask for their response.