As part of the licence requirement enforced by Southwark Council and the Police, SeOne has had to install the new ClubScan for all events at the venue, including this May’s TG Birthday Ball.
The new policy has been imposed following an incident involving serious violence at the venue a while ago. Our understanding is that both the police and the council are well aware that fetish events do not give rise to problems of this kind, but are unwilling to except fetish nights at SeOne from the new ID policy.
People will now only be admitted to the venue if they bring one of the following forms of ID: Passport (all nationalities); National ID card (all nationalities); Driving Licence (all nationalities); Provisional Driving Licence; SIA Card; or Citizen Card.
This condition has been imposed by the venue and TG has no option but to comply with it for the Birthday Ball.
However, this has not stopped people complaining to TG that they should have refused to co-operate with the requirement or moved this year’s Birthday Ball to another venue.
Torture Garden’s position on the SeOne ID requirement and ID checking in general is outlined here by David TG:
It is not a good thing and not something we support in any way. But there are many ways to fight a war and many ways to subvert the law.
Different people and different organisations have different roles and different ways to effect change.
We created a fetish/body art club when it was semi-illegal to stage such events, and were closed down or moved on by the police and authorities in the first few years.
We've learnt to play the game and be professional and sensible on the surface with the authorities, which has helped the fetish scene in general become more and more acceptable in society.
But we've never softened or compromised what happens inside TG. The bigger we've become and the more corporate we look, the more we've got away with. We've never stopped or censored a single show or artist at TG in 18 years, and we've always had a fully active dungeon/ playroom.
Almost all of our events push beyond what officially should be legally allowed. And despite our success we know we are still always on the edge of being closed down or stopped.
Therefore we have found that stealth is our best tactic. We play the game on the surface and subvert behind the scenes. So have we sold out? Check the Birthday Ball’s line-up of the most extreme performers in the world and two dungeon/playrooms where anything is allowed and tell us we have!
Would we get away with it by fighting the licensing laws of venues and drawing more attention to our events? No. Others may talk about fighting the system and changing society, but our actions and events have done as much as anyone has in the last 18 years.
The clear reality for us is that there are others in the scene and society who are better set up to fight the ID check laws. And it is also more for the venues than the promoters to fight the laws directly.
Pulling out of SeOne will do nothing to fight any issue. It is SeOne this month and will probably be Mass next month, and almost all other venues the month after.
Pulling out of SeOne will do nothing to fight any issue. It is SeOne this month and will probably be Mass next, then almost all other venues
So what should we do then? Stop our events completely as a protest? Who will be winning then? We feel that in reality the most effective way to protect our members and clientèle and fight the new law is to work with SeOne, and talk to the police and council to improve the situation as much as we can.
As a result of working with SeOne we have already reduced the length of time the data is kept from three years to 31 days (the same as security camera footage). And we are also discussing other measures. But it will take time fully to change such laws.
We were informed of the ID checks after we had booked the venue and promoted this event, and it is simply not possible to change venue because there is no other venue of the same scale that would hold such an event. There is no choice!
If anyone thinks we should move our events to smaller and inferior venues, then what do they propose we do when those venues also have to have ID checks?
As it is we may lose a few hundred people who won't attend because of the ID checks. But knowing that, we still can't and won't change venue, because we believe in creating the best possible event for our members, and there is no other venue.
All we can do is create the strongest events we can, and protect our members as much as we can. We are doing both.
Do we think that the police or local authorities are interested in using ID information against the fetish scene? Absolutely not.
Do we trust the owners and management of SeOne? Actually yes we do. They are the most trustworthy and professional venue that we've worked with in London.
Is it a failproof system? No it's not. We have concerns and are not happy about it.
Do we think there's a lot of paranoia about the ID checks? Yes we do.
Do we believe that our data and information is at risk in many other daily situations? Yes of course it is.
Therefore we believe it is a time to be calm and fight to change things from within.
If anyone thinks that not attending events or supporting promoters and venues will help to change the law and society, then they can choose to stay at home. But in reality all that is doing is weakening an already very fragile club scene in London.
Better surely to be part of the world's most extreme fetish club and then wake up on the Monday after and campaign against ID checks in general.
Do we think that the police or local authorities are interested in using ID information against the fetish scene? Absolutely not