"You are all a lost generation." - Gertrude Stein

Across the continent, from the enigmatic warrens of Soho London to the covert beat workshops of Moscow's Tverskoy District, nightclubs are closing with an unprecedented diligence. Distilleries, vineyards, and breweries fret anxiously over slumping alcohol sales; while casual drug use - widely, and as a distinct institution of counter-culture - is strikingly waning. Is the notion of a modern, mass counter-cultural movement even relevant today? This isn't the neon-tinted alarmism of dystopic fiction; this is happening.

Is hedonism dying?

That's the tediously sensationalist by-line disseminated by innumerable broadsheets, tabloids and blogs. Certainly, the surface-level data strengthens this, and that's usually more than enough to machinate a broad narrative. In the UK, the analytics company Mintel report that club attendances have dropped 23% in five years, with a predicted 16% further decrease by 2020. UK industry revenue is expected to fall from £1.49 billion in 2010 to less than £1 billion by 2020. Elsewhere, in Amsterdam, the number of nightclubs declined 38% between 2001 and 2011. From 2005 to 2015, Berlin's nightlife revenue fell from 1.5 billion euros to 1.2 billion.

So; is Europe's nightlife dying? Is carefree experimentation? Is the very faculty of modern youth, with its blithe exuberance, its craving for novel and transportive experiences, and its propensity for reckless fuck-ups and inconsequential mistakes and persistent insecurity and organic vacillation?

Subsequently, have we as young people lost our edge? Do we eat brunch instead of LSD? Is our ideal evening emulating the sobriety of Hygge, or some other synthetic chillaxing trend, rather than the nascent euphoria of all-night raves? Are we genuinely anaesthetised, clean-eating gym rabbits spending our piles of disposable income on fresh aubergine and Peruvian coffee beans instead of white-cider-from-the-bottle and MDMA?

Is Deliciously Ella the executioner of decadence?

We're routinely subjected to reductive, nostalgic, and often self-aggrandizing think-pieces about the domestication of British and European youth, paired with overly-simplistic rebuttals certifying gentrification or bloated alcohol prices. The reality is - obvious to anyone without a clickbait metabolism - far more complex; but it permits dissection, and it demands commentary.

Last month I attended Ballantine's x Boiler Room's True Music forum in Madrid, effectively a conference based on debating the present and future of music creativity and production; but also its application in galvanising European nightlife. Unsurprisingly, an organisation as self-aware as Boiler Room are cognisant of the issues facing their industry; and its representatives, alongside the guest speakers, were open, realistic, and enthusiastic when talking to me. These conversations insightfully substantiated and even more insightfully contradicted, my investigation of the subject.

Over my research, three crucial areas of concern materialised: the current economic climate: the revised behavioural expectations placed on young people: and a plenitude of trivial and exponential cultural developments. While all sections are interposed by both my conversations with the Forum's guests and with studied data, the incidence and lucidity of my private prognosis fluctuates erratically and not always judiciously; so, prior warning.

Statista records that of December 2016 average levels of youth unemployment in the Eurozone is at a troubling 21%, but this disguises the severity of the picture for many iconic havens of continental nightlife. Greece and Italy both exceed 40%, while Cyprus is estimated at 33%; bear in mind that these numbers include the putative tourist hotbeds of isolated debauchery: Kavos, Zante, Malia, and Ayia Napa. Newer and trendier alternatives in the Balkans aren't disconnected, with Croatia and Bulgaria conspicuously above the Eurozone average. Meanwhile Spain - itself purveying Magaluf, Tenerife, and the proverbial Mecca of Ibiza, never mind the mainland's ample rave scene - is appraised at an extraordinary 43%.

While the UK's 13% looks comparatively rosy, these figures include zero-hour contracts and part-time or freelance work. Equally, it's essential to note the substantial reduction in the value of real wages since 2008's financial crash; according to OECD's figures from last July median real wages fell by 10.4% between 2007 and 2015, the most significant drop of any advanced country excluding Greece, hardly an illustrious equivalent given its credit rating. These numbers disproportionately affect the 20 and 30-somethings who personify the nightlife market. When the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney annotated these figures as representing a "lost decade" - inadvertently echoing Gertrude Stein's maxim - for wage growth, it's self-evident who suffers from having never experienced a complementary "found" period.

Predictably, Germany, whose nightlife remains innovative and self-sustaining, has youth unemployment estimated at 6.5% and real wages growth of 14%.

The portrait painted by these statistics depicts a continent-vast generational gap in spending power. The majority of young people across Europe are either struggling to find a job or living hand-to-mouth with relatively low levels of disposable income. We comprise the majority of a new, officially demarcated socio-economic class; the precariat - or, to flatter the glamourising rhetoric of suppressing workers' basic rights, the 'gig economy workforce' - characterised by job insecurity and short-termist fiscal planning.

While correlation logically doesn't equate to causation, and here I underline my economic philistinism, it's fair to extrapolate from the quoted data - and from the anecdotal experiences we've all individually processed as young people in analogous positions - that our budgetary reality defines our free time. Anecdotal evidence ceases to be apocryphal when wedded to litanies of corresponding circumstances. I posit that we haven't inexplicably lost our collective appetite for hedonism, we've just been suspended the economic liberty which facilitated the profligate abandon of the 90s and early 00s.

You can deconstruct the economics of the current paradigm even further by centring on national levels of inequality. The UK's Gini Coefficient (the most broadly accepted measure for income inequality, where '0' means everyone has the same income, and '1' that a single person commands all income) was last recorded in 2014 by OECD as 0.358, the 7th worst of all OECD countries; to maintain the uniformity of my two primary case studies, Spain is 10th worst with 0.346. For balance's sake, this number has remained moderately consistent since the 2008 crash; rather, the origin of widening income disparity is the corollary. While traditional white-collar graduate jobs have been squeezed congruently with traditional blue-collar junior positions, - as Gemma Tatlow wrote in the Financial Times last December - it's easier to tolerate economic difficulties when your income is fundamentally higher than the parallel. Tatlow soundly identifies that the impact of an income of £35,000 growing at 0.1% a year (the average annual income growth since 2008) against higher inflation is simply less dramatic than on an income of £20,000. Your budgetary decisions will be more consequential to your lifestyle; such as cutting back extensively on nights out and alcohol, as a purely arbitrary example.

I reiterate my reticence towards correlation and causation, and stress once more that I'm a layman in economics, but it coheres practically that young people with lower disposable income - even within that already spare bracket - have become priced out by the overinflated increase in the costs of nightlife; so that, abstractly, participating in hedonism has devolved into the purview of the comparatively wealthy, the volition of a select subclass within an already marginalised generation.

Madchester and Cool Britannia

The rave and acid house explosions of Madchester and Cool Britannia were largely classless, ideologically founded on subverting the bloating capitalist impulse of Thatcher's sweeping dogmatism by actively promoting egalitarianism, musical cosmopolitanism, and presenting a "band-less disco" (self-described by a promotion flier of the time). The Manchester District Music Archive helpfully provided links to fascinating historiography from the period. A clipping from the February 1982 edition of the magazine City Fun Fanzine argues the famous Manchester club The Hacienda was fixated on opposing "provincial introversion" while platforming "European/US artists," noting that lifelong membership for the club was £5.51, which adjusted for inflation is £19.45 today. A member is entitled to a pound off entry, which more than half the time meant that entry was free. The cost of drink was, according to the Factory Records historical archives, "alehouse cheap." The primal - and inexpensive - collision of politics, culture, and hedonism which The Hacienda embodied - if not established - was emulated by Sheffield's Gatecrasher, Liverpool's Cream, and London's Shoom. The crux of their mutual manifesto denoted that apprentice joiners and hairdressers rave alongside civil servants and management consultants in the unifying aura of the transient, the instinctive and unbiased intimacy of dancing intoxicated. Through an irreverent apoliticism, this spectrum of nightclubs were making a progressive political statement. On the dancefloor your background was immaterial.

The Factory - Manchester's philosophical successor to The Hacienda, or exploitative knock-off pariah depending on who you're speaking to - presents itself as channelling the radically democratic soul of its precursor with regular free or 99p entries, cheap drinks, and a diverse plurality of live events. The outlook is conspicuously less sanguine elsewhere, reshaping The Factory's convenience as something bordering on nostalgia. Last year's Warehouse Project run averaged ticket prices of £29; Fabric cites the prices of their normal Friday advance tickets as £14-20 with the added caveat of "more on the door," while The Ministry of Sound varies erratically, though seems to approximate at £25. Birmingham's Rainbow Venues, Liverpool's Camp & Furnace, and Sheffield's The Night Kitchen hover around a more modest £15-20 on final release tickets. And then you factor in the overinflated costs of drink, where the price of a tequila shot superseding the hourly minimum wage isn't anomalous.

There are, obviously, comparatively inexpensive nightclubs; but the significance of these particular examples is that, from my limited inquiry, they represent to some degree their provincial dance music capitals, the paragons of rave culture imitating the hedonistic impulse of The Hacienda, Gatecrasher, Cream, and Shoom. And they're extortionate to the point of alienating their historical demographic; young people of any economic background who wish to therapise and express themselves through discarding the inhibitions of real world responsibilities, and learning something about themselves in the process.

Body and Soul in Spain

When I discussed this financial partition at the Forum, my preconceptions were challenged; at least, there transpired a modest divide over the issue between the continent and the UK, which I wasn't anticipating. Georgia Taglietti, Head of Communications for Sónar Festival, tersely dismissed the idea of such a pattern emerging in Spain; but Fra Soler, head of booking at the revered Nitsa Club and a booker at Primavera Sound, expounded on the disparity; "Of course there's a relationship between social, economic and cultural situations in Spain. When the scene first flowered it wasn't about social or monetary status. There's always crossover between people with money and people struggling."

Although, he acknowledges that "there's a Spanish tradition of going out and dancing as a release for the body and mind, and since the financial crash was no longer the case; but unlike the UK things are improving. English clubs are closing; Spain are opening clubs. 2016 reflected this. Obviously, things still aren't great, but they're improving."

I ask him why he thinks things are improving so dramatically if youth unemployment remains so high and real wage growth so low, and he replied that "Tourism is helping. Tourists come to our cities especially to club, people who know more about electronic music. They research agendas and DJs, and then pick the DJ they want to see. DJs are becoming more powerful and influential, though they're often paid more to go to fancy parties rather than nightclubs."

This free-market dance utopia certainly sounds idyllic, for those who can afford it. When I tried to probe about the accessibility of this veritable Shangri-La for Spain's indigenous young, he shook his head, and stressed he didn't consider my suggestion - that this emergent dance-tourism hierarchy might feasibly undercut affordable nightlife - to have substance.

Berlin and Social Status

When I spoke to Anastazja Moser, co-founder of Berlin Community Radio, it struck me that maybe I was being naïve in my fixed agenda for democratic hedonism. Outside my romanticising bubble, nightlife is principally an industry - employing thousands of people - and it's logically predicated foremost on sustainability and profit-making. "The clubbing industry makes so much money for the city; it's literally the city's biggest moneymaker. The likes of Berghain have such a great revenue stream. These big clubs also have a strong lobbying power in the Berlin parliament; it's very positive and reflective for nightlife. Berlin is funded by the government because of the power of the nightlife lobby, and the tourist income. There's also real institutions of support and subsidy for artists. Berlin doesn't have a finance or media industry; the city's industry is nightlife. They pay staff well, and everyone gets something out of it, but the city needs its nightlife and vice versa."

When I pushed her on Berlin nightlife's notorious exclusivity, she initially shut me down... spectacularly; "Social status is irrelevant. If you're a plumber you can get into Berghain; it doesn't matter."

However, she then moved into what had been circling my head since my conversation with Fra Soler a few hours earlier. As an active proponent of DIY music - indeed, she's written previously that "DIY culture is forever tied to economic disparity," - dance music's ostracising sedation is a space where she's exceptionally literate. She advanced that "The techno world is working class, but the new techno got rid of that edge. The sound has been whitewashed, particularly by influences from the Detroit scene. It's more suitable for straight white men. It's a commodification of that old school culture to entertain tourists. It's neoliberalism eroding that culture."

Perhaps the parameters of exclusivity have been redefined. It might no longer be limited to the raving hardcore - as immortalised in the ethereal mythos of Berlin decadence - but experientially tailored to those capable of spending the most; averaging 16 euros, Berghain's relatively affordable entry isn't really an issue, but the customer demographic spending 200 euros once inside will invariably arrest the accountant's attention more than that which spends five. A plumber might be a traditionally working class vocation, but it's one of the best paid. If your best-paying customers prefer "accessible" and "risk-free" (Anastasia's terminology) music, then that's what you'll play.

Back to Britain

Inversely, I was curious for a British take. I asked Lily Mercer, DJ for Apple's Beats1 and Rinse FM as well as editor-in-chief of Viper Magazine, on whether British nightlife - London especially - has become atomised, and she became visibly impassioned; "Imagine Alexander McQueen as a working class kid experimenting in the current climate. He'd be disabled by how expensive nightlife is."

Although she didn't explicitly comment on the idea of a dance-tourism hierarchy corresponding to that of Spain and Berlin manifesting in London, she shifted naturally towards railing against its implications; "Even Visions [an iconic Dalston club] has a guestlist now. That's Berlin levels of exclusivity. If you work in retail, you simply can't go to Fabric every week; it's ridiculous if the average Londoner can't afford to go to Fabric, then why did we bother to save it?"

This isn't only economic but political and - speaking in facetious polemic - anthropological. Through an abstract, perhaps idealistic, lens, the inaccessibility of hedonism is a form of arrested development. If young people are unable to explore and express themselves through the idiosyncratic singularity of hedonistic experiences, is their personal growth stunted?

This is tied into the modern duopoly of the "transactional" academic climate, and the manufacturing of the punctilious 'young working professional'. I maintain that these have repressed hedonistic compulsion, and the compulsion's propagation through a prevalent and inclusive nightlife.

Academia

Since tuition fees were first introduced in 1998, and duly raised to £9000 in 2012 (my matriculating year; I was one of the lucky maiden recipients of Nick Clegg's tractability), the value of a degree has become more tangibly commoditised. With an ample pricetag, the purpose of higher-education becomes contorted; emphasis has been torn away from individual development, intellectual stimulation, and formative experiences; towards fabricating both a pretext for and gateway to white-collar employment.

Aly Gilani, founder of indie label First World Records and senior figure at Bandcamp, asserts that "university is traditionally the home of experimentation, but in the 90s you didn't need a job, weren't constantly stressing about financial pressures. Uni has become a transactional experience, driven by financial responsibility both during your time there and in preparation for after."

After graduation, you enter the embryonic years of your career. In my final year at university I, like many in such a position, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I just knew I had to get any job, whatever job will take me, regardless of the conditions, expectations, or payscale. Graduate scheme specifications and industry prospectuses gradually coalesced into a broth of platitudes around "rapid internal career development", "professional but relaxed work environments", and "healthy work/life balances". Two weeks after I graduated I began working in the London private sector where I was initiated into 24/7 email culture with furtive immediacy. I had push notifications enabled for work emails on my civilian phone before lunchtime my first day. 12 hour working days were quickly normalised, as was skyping US clients at 11pm, or meeting candidates for coffees or beers at weekends. The message rang clear; if you want to get ahead, the forward slash in work/life must vanish. It's carrot & stick, dressed up in a Savile Row suit. Mine is just a cursory sample in a common pattern among millennials, and certainly doesn't approach the most severe cases.

It's about achieving perennial excellence and perfectionism - and a very particular, conservative definition of excellence and perfection - around the clock. Indeed, the clean-eating and fitness-craze cultures people justifiably attribute to hedonism's decline are surely symptomatic of the razor-edged self-improvement lifestyle which the modern work/life malleability perpetuates. Working hard at school to get good grades to afford entry to a good university where you work harder to get a good degree to get a good job where you work even harder to climb the ladder. When do we have the time, space, or agency, to authentically surpass our boundaries outside this calcified framework?

The rigour and taciturnity of the process; from school to college/university to work - perhaps punctuated by a circumscribed gap year, itself in some a cases a premeditated and thus artificial grasp at self-discovery - is inhibiting. It's difficult to compile physical data on the subject, but judging by ostensibly every young person I've ever interacted with, we've fostered a pervasive pathology of aimlessness and disaffection. Almost none of us feel completely secure or settled in our careers or cities, or even friendships and relationships. At face value, we lead conventionally fulfilling lives, yet we intuitively feel we're missing out on so much. To be both crude and very, very saccharine; few of us have any intelligible idea who or what or where we are or want to be.

Now, obviously the ubiquity of social media - where our friends invariably appear to lead more interesting lives than our own - is instrumental in exciting this plug-in self-consciousness, as is the natural restlessness of youth which has agitated our ancestral 20-somethings for millennia. Likewise, I know many people my age who couldn't be more satisfied with their position and direction; so my hypothesis is inevitably a generalisation.

But it's a fallacy to claim that young adulthood hasn't been fastidiously codified in line with the predilections of an insipid, droning 'civil' society that fetishises work and dismisses with utter enmity character and experience which doesn't compatibly subscribe. We're stranded and stagnant, yearning for something more substantive and unique. Ours is a culturally dislocated generation, an identity-absent generation, a lost generation.

It'd be tremendously disingenuous of me to claim an absence of cultural swing. However, the swing itself is evidently multifaceted, often internally incongruous, and palpably overlaps with the observations I've already made.

Technology, gentrification, globalisation, and commercialisation

Firstly, there are largely trivial but not ignorable shifts. People meet and hook up through dating apps rather than shadowy corners or irradiated dancefloors because of convenience. The looming omnipresence of social media determines steady anxiety levels over our public representation, where our meticulously hewn online avatar could shatter from a damningly compromising Facebook tag; and the stress over losing control over that persona isn't worth an indulgent night out. A Heineken study found that 36% of millennials admitted they had suffered from "social shaming" because of drunk representations online; with 59% citing loss of control as the central incentive for limiting alcohol consumption. I'd rebut that reticence towards losing control and the threat of social shaming - alternatively through the antiquity of oral gossiping - has always been a vital prop of moderation, but perhaps is now more pronounced via social media's inexorability.

These transformations matter, but I'd argue only fractionally in a composite, interlacing model.

The cultural issues that were most frequently raised by those I spoke to were - predictably - gentrification, globalisation, and commercialisation; but when I asked for elaboration or specificity, they found it difficult to explicate. This perfunctory vernacular of 'ions' has long been imprecise, so inferring substantive content from individual conversations was challenging; but cumulatively they become somewhat axiomatic.

Maya Jane Coles, the talented headliner of Boiler Room's subsequent DJ night, observed that "I've been touring six years, but I grew up in North-West London, and went to warehouse parties in East London; those times were really formative for me, I learnt techno and house. When I go back, it just seems so commercialised now. Young people ten years ago were exposed to less commercial music, and the city officials were less focussed on shutting down venues. That doesn't help things; clubs are a safe space for these kids to experiment. They're going to experiment, that's for sure, but where they do it is important. Fewer clubs means fewer safe spaces."

Lily Mercer co-signs Maya's corporatisation line, but argues that this has partially infected the disposition of the young; "I feel sponsorship has killed it. Ten years ago young people were dancing and taking drugs in a safe space in Fabric. Instead, people go to Puma release shows, instead of underground clubs they go to commercially sponsored events to stare at trainers. People won't experiment without the presentation of it on social media. It's about presentation over experience, taking ket through an Instagram filter."

I find the latter point an interesting counterargument to the conventional wisdom that people are less inclined to experiment because of social media's proliferation and isn't something I'd considered previously. It makes sense I think, to an extent. While - assumedly - most people are concerned about the destabilisation of their personal brand through media circulating online of them paralytic; for some, it's a very reinforcement of that brand.

Aly Gilani, however, dissents against the commercialisation concord; "There are a variety of big problems, but gentrification has always happened. Cool venues and cool areas are still getting closed, and will always close. The biggest issue is that we have a government that doesn't give a shit. Sadiq Khan and Amy Lamé [London's night czar elected last Autumn] might change things, but there's no guarantee."

Lily also passingly mentioned London's newest nightlife posting; describing the night czar as a "corporate party planning job." Evidently, constructive and participative change from Lamé and her team will be requisite to overcome such pervasive cynicism.

Politicisation and Festivals

While we're shifting 'ions' to politicisation; Mirik Milan, the 'Night Mayor of Amsterdam' (a non-for-profit foundation dedicated to synergising local government, small businesses, and residents), implicates the rise of far right illiberalism across Europe, and particularly in Netherlands, as maiming hedonism's central value system of inclusivity and creativity, especially towards LGBTQ people; "The Dutch political climate has been affected; if politicians speak negatively about the LGBTQ community it will trickle down. People have yet to feel completely safe, and it's getting worse. Everyone who goes out is influenced by the public space. Transvestites said that ten years earlier it was easier to walk in drag without feeling afraid, and they now feel anxious even in the time between the taxi and the front door." Just because Wilders was soundly beaten on March 15th doesn't make his ideological movement any less dangerous. Mirik was emphatic in highlighting the impact of systemic prejudice in subverting the utopian ideal of nightlife as for "open-minded people coming together, for forward-thinking people in a safe place."

Perhaps the most interesting take I hadn't previously considered is the ever-blossoming popularity of festivals; and how a festival's nature as a fixed event has antagonised and partly conquered the more ephemeral and spontaneous personality of clubbing. The rise of boutique festivals which provide overlapping rivalry with the more hardcore rave nightclubs is a particularly hostile development; Mirik claims that such festivals "are fierce competition for nightclubs, especially in Amsterdam; where many boutique festivals are popular. In a boutique festival, you have 2000 people that used to be at a warehouse rave. The line between nightclubs and festivals has been blurred. They're [young ravers] spoiled by the variety of festivals, so they only focus on a few big events a year, [we] need to crossroad festivals into club culture."

When I asked why electronic festivals have prevailed over clubbing, Mirik elaborated; "Clubs used to be the place for experiments. People go to festivals to magnify the club experience. I think this is a cultural change. Rather than going out on a night longer, festivals have become the more hedonistic option; clubs are too short, people can party for 12 hours, or for the full weekend, at festivals."

Georgia Taglietti commented on the division, that "People don't club because of transportation and convenience. Festivals are a 360-degree experience - food, nature, music - it's all-pervasive. With globalisation and the internet, people have tasted so many experiences, they become picky. Festivals just work better for some people."

Enthrallingly, she called out the discrepancy in equating the physical practice of festivals to clubbing. "If you want an intensive audio-visual experience, you go to a club, there's nothing like that. It's experiential, you can't compare a festival to a club. I'm a big festival supporter, but when Goldie played Fabric two years ago; I'm still emotional thinking about it. I was 49, and I danced like I was 29. That experience can't be transferred to a festival."

She continued; "You can't explain the thrill of clubbing, that new perception of life[...] Clubs need to have their own cultural conservationism. We need a place that debates and disrupts, and [a place where] we can speak about what clubs mean to people. The club has its purpose; to release all this tension, and doubt, and anxiety. It's a club of people, that's why it's called a club."

Streaming

Tangentially but intriguingly, Georgia asserts the influence of organisations like Boiler Room employing streaming services; "People don't want to go out because music is so accessible through the internet that they can party in their rooms." She expands by self-posing the rhetorical question; "With streaming platforms, why are clubs still needed? Because clubs are an offline experience, euphoria in a real world. DJs just aren't as good if you aren't vibing with them."

Livestreaming DJ sets through these services, such as Boiler Room TV, fascinates me as a modern dynamic in hedonistic discourse. While it depresses commercial nightlife, for young people it's a liberating vehicle to explore a world which not otherwise be affordable or accessible; and speaking personally I'm an ardent advocate of their universality. Equally, Georgia makes a salient point. As democratic as it is conceptually, in practice it'll never be as blissfully feral as the "euphoria in a real world."

Hedonism and the Future

Returning to the redefined models of higher education and work, there's a discernible correlation between amplified academic and workplace pressures, and cultural transitions. With less exposure to hedonism during the latter school years and at university, people who didn't participate and experiment during that foundational period ordinarily won't sample that world once professional work is the dictating pillar of their lives. Moderation is the new norm; the traditional excess of hedonism assessed externally is, in some expanding circles of millennials, returning to the taboo of the 60s. Being coy, I guess social conservatism is bi-generationally cyclical?

It's true that the work hard/play hard epithet still holds water. After a difficult week, many folk continue to turn to dissolute excess as a release. But with the burgeoning perpetuity of work life, more people than before are too exhausted to party all weekend, every weekend. They'd rather spend more of their free time and disposable income unwinding through less licentious, arduous pursuits. This once more transects the clean eating and hyper-fitness lifestyle. It submits fulfilment and satisfaction without the adverse side effects of hedonism; and frequently without parallel monetary cost.

As I've recognised, there are myriad legitimate comments made on a changing, increasingly pluralistic cultural landscape, but a few ring hollow to me. Some of the more popular responses to a polygonal Guardian survey performed last year described clubbing as "too impersonal" and creating "anxiety"; two characteristics I'd argue are historically innate. People who view clubbing with apprehension in 2017 would generally hold the same stock twenty years ago, though there'll always be exceptions.

Further, to be candid, I value the survey result that 131 out of 196 respondents prefer a night in to be a) misrepresentative; as a paying Guardian member it pains me to say it, but I don't consider your quintessential clubber to be a habitual Guardian commenter, and b) the line of questioning as too binary; just because you prefer a night in, doesn't mean you don't enjoy a night out.

In fact, I view any broad study of hedonistic culture to be problematic, including my own. Hedonism is too intrinsically diasporic to confine to sweeping analysis, no matter how balanced or thorough. If I've learnt anything from researching this piece, it's that comprehensive economic, social, anthropological, and cultural change, shapeshifts the paradigm virtually immeasurably.

But what of the future? Inquiry is all well and good, but constructive prescription is better. Is hedonism's demise immutable?

"God no," says Aly, "hedonism will always find a way. Look at the DIY space in Bermondsey and elsewhere; these things will always happen because of community and collaborative efforts. Even in a difficult political and financial climate, we have cool cultures looking to make a moment of it."

Maya seems equally upbeat about the active zeal for hedonism, and also dance music's visceral creativity; "Good nightlife does still exist, though not a lot of it is mainstream. It's difficult to find classic underground venues, but there's still a lot going on, it's just changed. When you're 18, you see dance music differently. When I speak to young people, they're as enthusiastic as ever."

This positive take on creative innovation is a perspective shared by Anastazja; "The avant-garde is currently at its most diverse, there's people at the forefront taking risks, and speaking about issues that are important, and young people are responding."

Additionally, Mirik is optimistic about the business aspect: "I'd argue nightlife is in a better position than at any time in our history; we have Die Clubcommission in Berlin, as well as better relations with officials in Sydney and Amsterdam. We've never been as organised as we are now. We're always lobbying and pushing our significance, and we're very diverse. We are a cultural movement, but we also create jobs, influence society, and building business. Ten years ago it was impossible that the Mayor of London would stand proudly outside a club." Let the record state that I googled feverishly and in vain for photos of Ken Livingstone clubbing.

When I asked him what productive change we could potentially mobilise, he paused thoughtfully, before purporting "The way forward for the nightlife scene, is speaking out, and changing and owning the narrative; showing proudly our economic and cultural impact. We in Amsterdam recently commissioned an economic impact assessment, showing the money that it [nightlife] brings in. But we shouldn't subsidise it commercially, but rather invest the money in diverse and innovative initiatives for young people. Creative kids need a safe place to experiment."

It's heartening to hear everyone so sanguine. But what troubles me; how do we subsidise DIY nightlife if it's to retain its necessarily organic practice, and do so with a resultant emphasis on accessibility? When does supporting the DIY scene invalidate the DIY?

There's the most delicate of balances between sufficiently emancipating hedonism as a democratic right and pacifying it through employing commercial benefactors. And if we fail to regulate that balance; well, I guess we return to those buzzwords gentrification, commercialisation and globalisation, episodically. But since commercial and bureaucratic authorities have confirmed a certain degree of hegemony over European and UK nightlife - as indicated by the growing affiliations between local councils, international businesses, and nightclubs - is this balance even viable?

In an almost throwaway comment, DJ Fra articulated the paradox quite beautifully; "It's strange; electronic music is now part of the establishment, but it's still also a statement, an art;" and still, I'd like to add myself, an authentic outlet for release and self-discovery.

Madrid and Final Thoughts

The cumulative impression I've nurtured from my time in Madrid, in Amsterdam last November, and across my aggregate interactions as your benignly disaffected young person; isn't a youth codified by intransigent conceits of wellness and propriety, but a community too financially inhibited and politically disparate to chase hedonistic excess detached from material responsibilities. In a permeation of work fetishism, identity dislocation, wage stagnation, and cultural pluralism (the latter being by no means unfavourable), those of us still compelled by hedonism subsist as we can.

Yes, there are seismic structural changes in the way we consume our free time which has partially abridged hedonism's predominance; but I maintain that our collective hedonistic itch lingers, unmoved by even the most immaculately snapped avocado toast. Rather, its access has been systemically curbed; which by turns means that it can convalesce.

I was not witness to an autopsy in a Madrid morgue. While there was mourning for the halcyon past, it was a concentrated hub of passion, imagination, and forward-thinking. With Boiler Room TV spearheading the democratising of dance music's foremost phenomena, and local governments beginning to appreciate the cultural and economic importance of nightlife, perhaps the chief anxiety in the short-term is aligning the divergent interests of businesses and ostracised hedonists. Resurrecting nightlife as a growth industry while emancipating its accessibility for young people of any socio-economic background will be tremendously difficult, and I'm still wilted by doubts, but ultimately I found the positivity which saturated the Forum infectious.

The party isn't over, it's regrouping at the off-license.

To check out more information on the True Music Forum and to listen to some of the panels referenced above back, head over to truemusic.boilerroom.tv.