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100 years ago: Night life and intoxicants

09 February 2024

February 8th, 1924.

THE London licensing authorities have decided not to increase the number of hours during which alcoholic drinks may be sold, and at the same time the London County Council has decided to allow dancing in hotels and restaurants to continue until two o’clock in the morning. The extension is for the moment to be limited to the duration of the British Empire Exhibition, and the idea is to “brighten London”! We dislike all Puritanical interference with individual liberty. We see no reason why people who desire to dance until two in the morning should be obliged to go to bed at midnight, but there is some force in the suggestion that this privilege is granted for the satisfaction of one small class of the community. The working-man in black coat or corduroys goes to bed at a reasonable hour. The night club has become a menacing phenomenon in the West End of London, and we are by no means sure that the fashionable night clubs, never visited by the police, are not as harmful as the disreputable institutions the proprietors of which are on occasion haled before a magistrate. We wonder if the law concerning the sale of intoxicants is really observed in even the most exclusive night clubs. The world is changing, but we have our serious doubts whether people really dance until four o’clock in the morning sustained by nothing stronger than barley water.

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