Another one bites the dust.
News of the demolition of the Hurst Street superdub that began as the Locarno and ended as the Electric means more of Birmingham’s heritage is to be lost.
The venue will be knocked down as part of a redevelopment of Smallbrook Queensway.
It hosted dancers and drinkers through half a century of music tastes, witnessing and welcoming the arrival of acid house at the end of the 80s.
Club owners and promoters brought the raves in from the fields to revive Birmingham’s nightlife scene with a brand new pulse: House music.
And with new all-night opening hours, we could party till sunrise and beyond.
But what’s happened to all those places today? Are they still there? Or have they all been redeveloped into something else altogether?
Bobby Browns in Gas Street was a favourite with celebrities and party-goers throughout the 80s and 90s.
It was George Best’s favourite Birmingham nightspot – and Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Chris Evans, Mick Hucknall, Clive Owen and Ulrika Jonsson all enjoyed nights there. The club closed in 2003.
In 2008 there were moves to revive it for a more mature crowd but featuring its original DJ, Darren Bernstein aka Bernie.
Darren said: “The best aspect of Bobby Browns was always the crowd who were friendly, glamorous and like a big family. And there always seemed to be someone from the TV, theatre or film world popping in to say hello.”
Birmingham’s Mr Nightlife Chris Benbrook, the owner of Bobby Browns, died of cancer in 2007.
The venue became Mode , a bar and lounge offering occasional party nights – but we reported earlier this year that was set for a comeback.
The Dome first opened on October 16, 1985 – in the home of former nightspot The Night Out , which had closed in 1983.
It was billed as the most spectacular discotheque in the world and had a capacity of 1,725 people initially, increasing to 2,495 later on.
The owners later gave it a £2 million refit and it was reinvented for 90s clubland as Dome II , reopening on March 31, 1994. It was then even bigger, with a capacity of 2,850.
That incarnation of the club ran until 2003. In September 2009, the O2 Academy moved into the building.
Digbeth Institute relaunched as The Sanctuary nightclub in 1998, and hosted club nights such as Sundissential and House of God.
House of God promised “quality music, mind-blowing production and a healthy dose of irreverent naughtiness to produce one of the original no-nonsense hedonistic party nights.”
The Sanctuary was also the original home of the Godskitchen trance music event.
Eventually, the Godskitchen organisers wanted their own venue and in 2000, they opened the superclub CODE in Digbeth’s Heath Mill Lane. As well as the Godskitchen nights, it hosted other events including Babooshka and Polysexual .
The Sanctuary became the HMV Institute in 2010 and then the O2 Institute in 2015.
The O2 Institute has three main rooms: a 2,000-capacity main auditorium called The Institute, a downstairs room which holds up to 600 people called O2 Institute Birmingham2 (formerly The Library) and a 300-capacity upstairs room O2 Institute Birmingham3 (formerly The Temple).
The Q Club
Based in Central Hall – a former Methodist church in Corporation Street – The Q Club launched in 1991 as an ideal place for a night of hands-in-the-air devotion to dance music.
It became Brum’s temple to techno.
At one time there were House of God all-nighters in the venue.
Some of the incredible club nights there included the “techno and beyond” event Atomic Jam , which started in 1995.
Atomic Jam relocated to The Sanctuary when The Q Club closed, then returned when its original home was reopened as The Q Club Complex. The venue looks virtually the same from outside but the massive interior space has been turned into four different dance venues.
When The Sanctuary closed its doors, House of God needed a new house. And it found one at Subway City, a gay/mixed dance club under the railways arches in Livery Street. This venue had previously been a gay club called The Jug (which ran from 1980 to 1995).
Not exactly the most attractive setting, but the rave scene had been spawned in shabby surroundings – and it was the music that mattered most. Once those uplifting anthems were pounding, it didn’t matter where you were.
Subway City went on to become the Tunnel Club .
In 2014, Birmingham’s rock-themed nightspot Edwards No 8 – originally in John Bright Street – relaunched at the Tunnel with Eddie’s Rocks, an event held there every Saturday.
For more stylish clubbing, there was Miss Moneypenny’s , initially a night at Bond’s club in Hampton Street.
With a tagline of The World’s Most Glamorous Clubbing Brand, organisers made sure of that with a tough door policy and a smart dress code.
The name of the nightspot had inspired the title of the event, borrowed from the James Bond character who is secretary to M. Miss Moneypenny’s also held weekly club nights at The Q Club.
Bond’s was revamped into the HQ club but the entire building has now been demolished. Today there’s just overgrown wasteland that’s anything but glamorous.
In 2001, Miss Moneypenny’s left Bonds. It held two one-off parties at Subway City and staged its 8th birthday bash at Liberty’s on the Hagley Road. Then it returned to Liberty’s for the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the end of 2001.
In January 2002, Miss Moneypenny’s decided to make Liberty’s its new home in Birmingham, launching regular weekly nights there.
It was the ideal location. The nightspot, in an imposing Edwardian building with a white exterior, had always been a place for poseurs.
The club closed in 2007 and found a new lease of life as Akbar’s, an upmarket Indian restaurant.
Tin Tins in Smallbrook Queensway was another popular club.
It opened in 1990 in a building that was once a restaurant called The Pride of India and is said to have been among the first clubs in the city with an extended licence that meant it could hold after-hours dance events.
At first a gay club – whose special guest performers included a then-unknown Take That – it broadened its clientele into a more mixed crowd with an all-night rave event called Hype .
The fondly-remembered club has even been said to have been the inspiration for dance music duo Tin Tin Out and their 1995 chart hit Always (Something There To Remind Me).
Whether that’s true or not, there’s nothing there to remind us now. The club was knocked down as part of the Bullring redevelopment and Debenhams stands on the spot today.
Another Digbeth venue was Medicine Bar at the Custard Factory.
Focusing on hip-hop and drum’n’bass, it later became the Factory Club and in 2011, it was reinvented as 78 Bar Grill Club.
Then it became live music venue Alfie Birds & The Oobleck, which announced its immediate closure in March 2016 .
Before Birmingham had a Gatecrasher, the city centre nightspot was called The Works .
Events held there included Sundissential as well as club nights by the Gatecrasher brand, which had not taken over the venue at that point.
The Works was refitted and relaunched as Gatecrasher in 2008. But the Broad Street venue closed in 2015 and reopened as Pryzm .
Another much-loved venue in Broad Street was Bakers . Revellers got themselves in party mood at Stoodi Bakers pre-club bar.
Bakers’ sign declared it A Dance Club For The Millennium but that grand vision proved to be far more fleeting.
It’s been reduced to nothing but happy, hazy 90s nostalgia, with the site now a car park that’s part of the Park Regis Hotel development.
Initially this nightspot in Hurst Street was the Locarno ballroom when it opened in 1961. At the start of the 80s it became the Powerhouse, initially a jazz-funk venue and later playing all the sounds of the 80s from New Wave to acid house. It became Ritzy in 1990.
It was reborn as Pulse in 1996 and was another club to host Sundissential nights during the dance music heyday.
After that it became Zanzibar in 1999 and Oceana from 2007 to 2010. Attempts to reopen it as Wonderworld were rejected in September 2013 but it went on to become the Electric nightclub a year later.
The club shut down in August 2015 following a stabbing and double shooting on the dancefloor.
Brum’s club crowd will also recall Amnesia at The Hummingbird and some great house music nights at Snobs and The Steering Wheel, among the many other nightspots in the city’s bustling scene.
Events at The Steering Wheel included S.L.A.G. – that actually stood for ‘straight, lesbian and gay’ and was another mixed crowd club night where the music mattered more than any other preferences. Today, it’s Bambu, an exotic wine bar with a Moroccan garden.
And former Broad Street club The Church – which hosted Ministry of Sound nights – has become Top Of The Pops-inspired dance venue Popworld.
Clubs may come and go but some manage to relocate, reinvent and reappear in some form. Even if they don’t, we still have the memories.
Among the more recent changes, Jewellery Quarter techno club TRMNL – in a Victorian factory in Vyse Street – was forced to close in 2009 . But in 2012, it re-emerged at the LAB11 music venue in Digbeth and is still holding nights there today.
And 60s-themed club event Sensateria made a comeback at Boxxed in Digbeth .
Somehow the music never dies.
Source : BirminghamMail