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I Was There: 6 Classic Club Nights

The club nights that created musical movements, spawned sartorial styles and defined generations.

The club nights that created musical movements, spawned sartorial styles and defined generations have become rooted in place.

Though typically short-lived, these classic institutions of unbridled hedonism have left a lasting effect. Were you there? Tell us about it in the comments.

1. The Roxy, Covent Garden, London

The original Roxy was located on Neal Street in Covent Garden and was there at the beginning of the punk scene.  Initially a gay bar, it was taken over by Andrew Czezowski and Susan Carrington in 1977 and in the first (and only) four months of its existence, it played host to almost all of the greats of punk, including the Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Buzzcocks. The venue opened on New Year’s Day with a performance by the Clash.

2. Henry’s Blueshouse at The Crown, Birmingham

By Warner Bros. Records (Billboard, page 7, 18 July 1970) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Black Sabbath (Billboard, page 7, 18 July 1970) By Warner Bros. Records via Wikimedia Commons
Local label manager Jim Simpson’s weekly clubnight played host to performances from (pre-Led Zeppelin) Robert Plant, and Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson (later member of Humble Pie). In 1968, a young band going by the name of Earth played their first gig at The Crown. Simpson was impressed, and took them on – they soon changed their name to Black Sabbath and went on to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

The Crown, Digbeth, Birmingham © Copyright P L Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The Crown, Digbeth, Birmingham © P L Chadwick

3. Blitz at the Blitz Bar, Covent Garden, London

Yes. Thats me working in the cloakroom at the Marquee Club Wardour Street in the evening after working on the Kings Rd. selling clothes all day to the likes of Duran Duran, Spandau Ba
Image courtesy of Debra Guterres (Debra Kdabra 1980s) ‘That’s me working in the cloakroom at the Marquee Club, Wardour Street in the evening after working on the Kings Rd. selling clothes all day to the likes of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet’

Where getting past the doorman was a feat of creativity in itself and the cloakroom attendant was a young Boy George. A small nightclub scene in London saw the dawn of the New Romantics, sometimes called the Blitz Kids, in response to a tired London Punk scene and need for escapism amidst rising unemployment rates. Club host and frontman of new wave synth pop group Visage, Steve Strange welcomed a young crowd of poseurs each Tuesday into his ‘private party’. Bands that can be in some way traced back to the small dance floor include Spandau Ballet, Culture Club and Bananarama.

4. G-A-Y at The Astoria, London

The London Astoria, the former home of G-A-Y via Wikipedia

This iconic venue was most recently home to G-A-Y, a long-running LGBTQ club night where pop music ruled the decks. Originally built as a cinema, The Astoria was converted to theatre use in the 1970s and reopened as a night club and live music venue in the mid-80s. It closed in 2009 and was subsequently demolished to make way for the Crossrail project.

5. The Hacienda, Manchester

Bez from band Happy Mondays (2007) via Wikipedia

The legendary Hacienda in Manchester was home to the ‘mad for it’ Manchester scene of the 1980s and 90s. Opened on 21 May 1982, the venue hosted an eclectic range of bands; The Smiths performed three times in 1983, Madonna played her first UK gig there in 1984 and as part of their act, German industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten drilled into the stage walls. In 1986, it became one of the first British clubs to start playing house music. The club closed its doors to ravers in 1997. The former warehouse was demolished in 2002 and the site developed for flats that bear the notorious venue’s name.

6. Plastic People, Shoreditch, London

Founded by Ade Fakile, Plastic People was a tiny underground club in Shoreditch, east London that music journalist Dan Hancox called ‘unarguably London’s best club’.  Despite being able to hold no more than 200 people in the atmospheric, cave-like and almost pitch black room it  hosted seminal dance acts from across the world.  Detroit based DJ Theo Parrish had a long celebrated residency.  In its final years (the club shut in 2015) it was best known for the ground-breaking, bass-focused club night FWD. The spiritual home of dubstep, it also gave a platform to emerging grime artists like Skepta, Boy Better Know and JME.

Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments.

Further reading:

3 comments on “I Was There: 6 Classic Club Nights

  1. Darrolynn

    What about the iconic Twisted Wheel in Manchester. I spent many happy Saturday nights there in the early 1960. Dancing to the likes of Spencer Davies ( with a fourteen year old Stevie Winwood) Julie Driscoll, Bryan Auger Trinity, Long John Baldry, and many more.

  2. Reblogged this on Jörgen Hartogs.

  3. Between the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, the Malvern Winter Gardens in Worcestershire was a major regional venue for rock, punk and prog rock. Malvern-based charity Rock Around the Hills is currently working on a heritage project to celebrate the story of MWG through oral history interviews, an on-line community archive and an exhibition. We are still applying for funding at the moment, but meanwhile you might like to check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Rock-Around-the-Hills-1664051650535657/

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