The row over London nightlife unfolds no longer behind stage doors, but on front pages. It appears evident that any Night Mayor will have a nightmare (an apt if obvious pun) to deal with, one that may likely leave them a less than reverent figure. The music scene in the city is sacred ground, hallowed ground built on and over - more often repurposed than renovated. The figures are endless: a third of venues closed in a decade, as many or more at risk from civil nuisance legislation, rates soaring. It is in fact difficult to see the elements other than the economic in the furore - perhaps fairly.

To see behind one stage door and from the eyes of one such institution affected, promoter for Village Underground Jorge Andres Nieto imbues why there should be credit due for his venue and others. One could celebrate how in a climate resting finally on finance, the city has managed to champion all manner of music, from controversial edge to calculated centre. Here Village Underground gives a fine example, a schedule across years featuring from the first the likes of the Pixies, or Vice parties long before that brand found its own in the Old Blue Last; shows like Daedalus from the Soundcrash crew, still bringing acts the likes of Matthew Herbert and Lapalux into the city today. Suffice to say there is strength in its surprises. Jorge calls shots behind signature night Superstition, in its defiant first year, knowing full well how pursestrings often strum louder than heartstrings in the city.

"Now after almost ten years we have developed a very specific, curated program," Jorge explains, sitting backstage as the small team flit around. "We have an ethos in what we do, we like to take risks, on many levels; not simply hype shows, sell out shows, but artists we believe in and relationships we have worked on for a while." Resolutely speaking on this ethos, there is no shy avoidance of the fact that chart bookings and corporate events didn't sneak onto the schedule, in fact they "fund everything else we do on our creative side." What can't be ignored is that without a budget there is a deafening buffer between creative scene-shaping and reactive money-making. It is a welcome wonder that in a city where every bar has its own resident and superclubs class out the rest, the middle ground still aspires to inspire, to promote from and not strictly for profit.

Village Underground places itself in the mid-market without being middle of the road, which in London is a road best kept wide: "There is a lot of different people and objectives in the scene. It is not a bad thing to have spaces for big crowds and names, music needs superstars as it also needs counterculture, to find its balance." Objectives, in a way, dilute the scene, as could be concluded from the steady rise of sponsored nights and brand banalities in music culture - the less academic versions of the RBMA abound. Finance trumps freedom, with the risk being to prevent a whole spectrum of starting points for young and new listeners. That said, however much "some say this is shit or whatever, sometimes it was those [mainstream] shows as a kid you went to that inspired you to go on to produce, or promote, or changed your tastes!" With bigger venues safe in their bank balance though, avoiding a top down scene will require depositing more into the grassroots.

Of the night around us as Jorge veers between clearly heartfelt topics, Superstition is so too his creative child. The night was conceived only a year before, from the wish to "to give a home to a lot of people in a way. It is a place where people come to celebrate, to come together, beyond just this space and time. Like a church, just for a few hours." Something of a musical missionary, Village Underground's promoter hails from Columbia, "a very religious country. I would live and die for music, working every day with music. I was never a good DJ or musician! Superstition has a lot of elements of church going to it, a little bit of my own vision of the world: quite dark." That darkness on the night Dawn of Midi headlined a show, supported by succinct, sensitized sets by Douglas Dare and Rival Consoles, was accentuated by a candlelit ambience: "I feel like technology has taken hold of music, with artists wanting their big show with the most lights and lasers, which are themselves the show and a little distracting... we just wanted to bring it back to the bone, to find out the parameters and innovate. So, people do not come out for another senseless night, where they do not have their mind changed or think."

With the backdrop of growing calamity for city nightlife, for culture even, the extreme challenge facing venues unchecked will surely end leaving audiences unchallenged. This is not to say that Village Underground is responsible solely for any cause celebre in its relatively short time, but as part of the myriad middle, no longer so diverse, it serves a serious point. Superstition for Jorge comes from seeing that "the electronic music world is full of superstitions. There are a lot of barriers in the club world. Some say that they only listen to house, or straight up Berghain techno, or indie bands, but I feel that is a lie!" A stage is expensive, riskier when given to the craft of promoting that calls on emerging talent, on diverging opinion. Jorge recounts from his own memory how "we became close with Erased Tapes, we did the first show with Kiasmos, which took off completely while we didn't know how that would go. We introduced them to Tale of Us and Life and Death, and now we are going to run their second show at Electric Brixton with just two days ago their collaboration on a remix out." Curation in turn sculpts the scene it enshrines.

Unfortunately, where some scenes survive on gimmickry, such as the student; or exclusivity, such as is the norm abroad; London clubbing - no less propounded by Village Underground itself - finds itself in perpetual showdown. If it isn't the tendency toward exponentially bigger and better lineups, it is the exploiting by established brands in the Battle of the Bass Bins, something of a war of attrition. However, banding together rather than pushing borders seems to be unavoidable: "We have to compete, you connect with some and not others, but we are all in the same position with hotels, flats - the Bussey Building! We are just about to set up our first night with Fabric; you see that no matter your intentions we are all under threat, the same threat, regardless of the nature of the business."

There is hope in the hysteria, so long as crowds see the chance to save and perhaps even craft a better music community from the present climate. First moves include a motion to put culture before property in civil law, something Ministry of Sound has been cut by, cancelling curfews and restrictions in favour of developers. As the movement picks up pace over the months, Jorge rounds off his night with a plea that resonates with the Music Venue Trust, and hopefully with every average trustee (us) the city over: "The city is at risk of just being a soulless shell. The economic interests trample culture, while music rebels against those forces. Now, there is so much more to fight, we are suffocated. All of these fancy buildings and flats will cater for no-one... nowhere to get together and be inspired. This fantastic capital will lose its culture. It will lose its capital."