We explore some of the most nostalgic 90’s nightclubs which were based up North’ from Burnley to Leeds.
The North of England became a hot bed in the late 80’s and early 90’s for new and older established nightclubs adapting to the sounds of Acid House. Originally associated with Northern Soul, new wave and disco with places like Wigan and Blackpool in Lancashire and of course Manchester, the old clubs became the home to a new generation of ravers and sounds. The London clubs always seem to get the spotlight whenever we talk about UK night culture and the rave scene, so we thought we would throw a spotlight on the North, and look at some of the most nostalgic Northern nightclubs of the 90’s.
Some of the Northern 90’s nightclubs have been completely forgotten about and have become ‘religious rave relics’ of their era. For those who danced their till 6am in the morning on high purity E’s of the time will probably never experience anything the same again. Local nightclubs for local revellers with resident DJ’s coming from all across the lands with new white labels’, B sides and classic Chicago sounds. What is interesting is how the house scene predominately spread across the North West and West Yorkshire putting working class towns on the ‘house music’ radar.
Nightclubs like Angels in Burnley, a market town in Lancashire, that couldn’t be further away from the likes of New York and Chicago if it tried. High levels of unemployment have always been a problem in the area not to mention the notorious ‘Suicide Squad’. The club saw a plethora of house legends through its doors from the likes of Carl Cox, Pete Tong and Judge Jules and formed part of a multi-story car park. The club also became the breeding ground for Paul Taylor’s ‘Retro’ label, a night that every Northern ‘night clubber’ knows only too well.
The Leadmill in Sheffield, which is still open today, was an old flour mill that caught onto the Acid House vibe from the late 80’s on wards. The Warehouse in Leeds which is also still open today played home to the likes of Sasha and LFO as well as becoming a hub for the West Yorkshire cities burgeoning night culture.
Obviously anything nightclub, 90’s and northern orientated would have to have Manchester’s Hacienda mentioned. Arguably the most pioneering club of Acid House for the UK with DJ legends such as Graeme Park, Mike Pickering and Greg Wilson. We caught up with Graeme Park to query his thoughts on why there were so many good Northern nightclubs in the 90’s and the notable differences between the London clubs of the era.
“There were less clubs and less DJs in that period than there are now. Pubs and bars used to close at 11pm and people needed somewhere to go afterwards. The Haçienda in Manchester had created a demand for house music in the UK and due to its popularity, other clubs in the North were quick to cater for the thousands of people who wanted to hear house music. In those days, the only way to hear the tunes were to go to a club and hear specific DJs play them. People also used to travel to clubs unlike today when every town and city centre has scores of clubs and late night bars with DJs. People now have access to everything and they don’t travel.”
“The Haçienda was the first club in the UK to champion and play house music along with The Garage in Nottingham. The Leadmill was close behind. London was slow to catch on but when it did in late 1988, the North/South divide was ended.”
“I was very lucky to have four massive weekly nights from the late 1980s up until the early 1990s. Wednesdays at The Leadmill in Sheffield, Thursdays at The Fan Club in Leicester, Fridays at The Haçienda in Manchester and Saturdays at The Garage in Nottingham were all massive nights and people used to travel from all over the North and beyond to visit. Due to the fact that I was spoken for on those nights, I regularly got booked to play Sundays and sometimes even Mondays and Tuesdays in places like Blackburn, Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield. You just couldn’t do that today.”
As the way we communicate has dramatically changed, the way we now interact with music has done so also. Back in the 90’s nightclubs there weren’t faces lit up with social media feeds, not too afraid to actually dance in case you don’t look cool enough, it didn’t fucking matter. Every care and worry went out of the window, and with that so did the ego’s. 90’s nightclub culture was all about the music, it didn’t matter who you were or your social status because every body came together to connect on an almost spiritual level. As electronic music evolves it is still the original ‘house’ night culture everyone is yearning for regardless of new genre’s or sounds.