Put your rose-tinted specs down for a minute.
Not every night spent in a drinking and dancing establishment was fun. The eye-stinging cigarette smoke, the eye-watering prices for warm, watery lager, the failed pulling attempts, the sticky floors, the zealous bouncers, the dodgy element lurking in the shadows, the stomach-churning loos and the naff music played at volumes to prevent conversation.
Yet still, we managed to put all this aside and have some of the best times of our lives. It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with, so the adage goes.
Read more: 19 lost Yorkshire seaside nightclubs we loved from the 1960s to the 2000s
It was where you made friends, met a future partner and tried things you may not otherwise have experienced. Here is a collection of Yorkshire nightclubs and bars where we did all the above in our youth, whether it was the 1960s or the 2000s.
From the cool and edgy to the downright naff and tacky, you’ll have (mostly) good memories of these long-gone places.
We couldn’t write a piece on lost Yorkshire nightclubs and not include a few words about The Frontier such was its importance in the North’s clubbing scene. We’re not going to write extensively about it here because we’ve already done that but here are the basics.
It opened as Batley Variety Club in 1967 and achieved national fame putting on gigs for some of the world’s biggest stars including Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield. It was rebranded by The Frontier in the early 1980s and ran a variety of nights until its closure in 2016.
It is now a gym.
This colorful club – in the 1970s – opened on Hall Ings, in 1985. It was pretty flash with top lighting and sound rigs and a carvery which opened for lunch as well as tea. It became in the 1990s.
The building has long been demolished and the Broadway shopping center now stands on the site.
This club, on Manningham Lane, opened in the early 1960s as a Mecca Locarno when it appeared in the film Billy Liar in 1963. It featured in another film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too in 1987.
Over the years it has undergone several revamps and name changes including Dollars and Dimes , The Palace , Maestro’s , Penningtons and the Town and Country . Today it is The Majestic wedding venue.
Opened in 1987, this rock club in the Castle Blaney Buildings, on Barry Street, was the place to see this touring rock bands, especially extreme metal bands. Rio’s moved to Leeds in 2007 because of the difficulty in getting international touring groups to play in Bradford.
Then Renegadez, Tavern in the Town, Envy, now Glennys (named in memory of Envy owner and DJ Glenny Atkinson who died in 2020).
On the Promenade was a nightclub which in its 1980s heyday was Mountbattens, a huge leisure complex with a disco, theater, cinema and restaurant. The venue had a long entertainment history, beginning its life as Field’s Oriental Lounge in the 1890s.
The venue, later known as The Lounge, became a Mountbattens entertainment complex in 1982. The venue later became Libertys until it closed in 2010.
Cleopatra’s / Silver Sands
Not to be confused with a strip joint of the same name in Kirkgate. This Venn Street venue was the place to catch the world’s greatest reggae artists from Jamaica including Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, Owen Gray, Millie Small, John Holt and Frankie Paul.
The club began its life as the Empress Ballroom, then the New Theater and then in 1967, The West Indian Social Club catering for the town’s growing Black Caribbean community. It became Cleopatra’s in the 1970s and finally Silver Sands in the 1980s before it was demolished in 1992 to make way for a car park.
Heaven & Hell
This 1990s club in the former Cooperative Building on the end of New Street had separate heaven and hell-themed dance halls. The building is currently being converted into student flats.
This club, owned by brothers Johnny and Joe Marsden, was Huddersfield’s biggest and now famous nightclub. Johnny’s opened in the former Bulls Head pub in December 1969.
The club, on the Beast Market, took off when it was granted a 2am license and enjoyed success during the disco era of the 1970s and the electro era of the 1980s. Johnny’s continued into the 21st century until the brothers sold the club and several of their neighboring entertainment venues to London and Edinburgh Inns for a substantial sum in 2003.
The club later became Eden (see above), Black Dog, Yankee Lounge and Xanadu’s Niteklub.
If Leeds had a number one club it would have been Majesty. If you combined it with the downstairs bar called Jumpin Jacks, it held a whopping 3,310 revelers.
This former cinema, originally opened in 1922, boasted a once impressive dome. It too was a victim of the decline of the superclub and closed in 2006.
Today it’s Channel 4’s headquarters.
This live music venue on Swinegate was the place to see its cutting-edge music acts on the ascent. Huge acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay and Korn played there in their earlier days.
The three-room club, which opened in 1994 and closed in 2014, was also the venue for hip club nights.
Morley hardly sounds like the backdrop for a world clubbing capital but for approximately a decade it was just that. And this was thanks to one club, The Afterdark and its weekly dance music night, The Orbit.
The hardcore (a sped-up, aggressive version of house music) and techno night began in 1990 attracting the world’s greatest DJs and performers. And until its demise in 2003 it was considered the finest night of its kind attracting hardcore clubbers from across the UK and abroad. Read more about it here.
The Penthouse, above what was Lloyds Bank, was also the place to see future rock and pop stars in their early days. Between its opening night in 1969 and its closure in 1982, it played host to David Bowie, Derek and the Dominoes (featuring Eric Clapton), Roxy Music, Thin Lizzy, Sex Pistols, Ultravox, XTC and more.
Opened in 1960 by impresario Terry Thornton, this club occupies the top three floors of what is now Sheffield’s legendary live music venue The Leadmill.
It was the place to see the blues and rock ‘n’ roll acts on the ascent including locals Joe Cocker and Dave Berry plus out-of-town acts like The Kinks, Small Faces, The Walker Brothers, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Thornton famously turned down The Beatles in 1963 but his rival Peter Stringfellow (see below) had no problem accommodating what would become the biggest band ever.
Esquire closed in 1967.
This dark, cavern on West Street was (fittingly) popular with goths, punks and rockers. Opened in 1978, it hosted some of the biggest punk and new wave acts including Ramones, Undertones, New Order, Siouxsie and the Banshees and a fledgling U2 and Human League.
After a spell as a hip hop venue, it closed in 1991. The premises were demolished to make way for flats but The Limit has since been celebrated in reunion nights at various Sheffield venues.
One of club legend Peter Stringfellow’s first clubs, this former ballroom on Pitsmoor Road, Burngreave hosted just about every big 1960s rock act before they became world names.
Opened with his brother Geoffrey in 1964, Stringfellow put on Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner and Pink Floyd. The brothers ‘rivalry with Terry Thornton (see above) and their clubs’ respective crowds was well publicized.
King Mojo was the subject of noise complaints from neighbors and it closed in 1967 after magistrates denied the club a private entertainments license. The venue was demolished in 1982 and is now a block of townhouses.
Republic, in a converted warehouse on Matilda Street, was one of the most important British clubs of the 1990s.
In 1996, it became the location for the burgeoning Gatecrasher house and techno all-nighter. The event’s strict entry policy – people were turned away for little apparent reason – earned the night a cult following and (in theory) ensured a decent atmosphere for dedicated clubbers.
After refurbishment in 2003, the Republic was renamed Gatecrasher One as Gatecrasher became a global brand. In 2007, the club was destroyed by fire and never reopened. The Gatecrasher brand continues. There are now student flats on the site.
Wakefield’s Co-operative Unity Hall, built in 1902, was once the place to see this big bands on the ascent. The Human League, Toyah Wilcox, Squeeze and Ultravox were some of the artists to play it.
By the 2000s it was a buzz nightclub and bar which according to its own social media, had “six rooms and endless possibilitys [sic]Buzz closed around 2014.
The exterior of the hall, then looking rather rundown, has been restored and the units have been filled with bars (The Establishment and Lobby 1867), offices and shops.
The center of Wakefield’s party center was probably the city’s old picturehouse. Since it switched from a cinema to a nightclub, it’s been so many different bars and clubs it’s hard to keep track.
However, one incarnation people mention now often is Casanova’s and its sister club Rooftop Gardens (sometimes known as “Rooftops”)
Casanova’s was popular with teens as new pop acts would play it. It featured on The Hitman and Her with Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan in the 1980s.
Its a sister club, the Rooftop Gardens was meant to impress like many clubs of the 1980s. There was a dazzling lighting rig, neon lights aplenty and laser displays. A pint, on the other hand, would cost you 10p (about £ 3.20 today).
According to some, Casanova’s and Rooftops were popular with stag parties and football crews on away days. It could get a bit rough but those who remember it generally remember it fondly.
Around the late 1980s, it was remodeled and renamed Jumpin ‘Jacks. Since then it’s been Mustang Sally’s, Mustangs, Ikon, Quest and Kooky. Today it’s Club Nocturno, Wakefield’s biggest nightclub, which opened in 2019.