Looking Back At Liverpool Nightlife
Take a stroll down memory lane with us as we look back at some of the most iconic nightclubs in Liverpool’s history, from the 051 to The Picket and more!
The club scene in Liverpool has changed considerably over the last 20 years, with traditional clubs having made way to event spaces hosting all manner of nights across the city now every weekend.
Back when I started going out to town back in the early 00’s, it was a case of hit the bars first, then head off to a night club to queue up nervously hoping you’d make the cut and be allowed in by the humungous doormen. The dress code was so formal you had to look as through you were off to a job interview at the local solicitors; a collared shirt (big oversized Harry Hill collar and cuffs were in fashion) & the same keks you’d worn for your Saturday job or school with a pristine crease down the centre and a pair of buffed-up Base loafers. Anything else and you’d be ushered out the line, being told ‘sorry lad, not tonight’.
These days, if you dressed like that you’d be thrown some sharp looks from all directions. A Bizzy or a wool.
Almost everywhere kicked out at 2am in unison. Chaos would ensue as a people would frantically scramble for afterhours places to carry on drinking, or elbow their way through the crowds to get ahead a head start to waive down that taxi in the distance. Police vans everywhere. Ripped Armani shirts. Stepping round remnants of fallen kebabs. Girls crying as they’d necked too many Aftershocks after last orders. Don’t let anyone tell you things are worse now in town than they used to be, it’s a misty-eyed myth. Every weekend was carnage at letting out time.
That said, I will put my nostalgic glasses back on for a minute and declare that the music was better (it must have been – they’re still rehashing the same sh*t now), and I am glad I got to spend many a night in some of the legendary clubs watching world class DJs around the city. It still makes me sad that Cream has gone.
Anyway, with news of the legendary 051 reopening imminently, we decided to take a quick look back at some of the famous nightclubs in Liverpool from that era…
051: As noted in the intro’, the 051 is due to reopen very soon thanks to local DJ, Lee Butler, who was an ever present at the club in its heyday. Named after the local area code, the resident DJs unashamedly hammered out Scouse House anthems every Friday and Saturday night until the early hours. I fondly remember the local radio adverts for the club, taking great delight in shouting to everyone to basically not bother turning up as it would already a lockout.
Newz Bar. Opened in 2000 – Situated on Water St in New Zealand House (see what they did with the name..), Newz bar was the place for all the celebrities, wannabe’s and gonnabe’s to be seen. There was seemingly always a story in the papers involving a footballer or Brookside cast member leaving here looking worst for wear. Tragically, it’s now a Hooters.
Barcelona Bar: Located on Berry St at the top end of town, the decedent Barcelona was a real nightlife hotspot in the early 2000s. Following its closure, it subsequently became the home for the relocated Quiggins shopping arcade, before more recently reopening as a bar and venue.
Cream at Nation: Back in 1992, James Barton’s iconic club brand started in a basement of a warehouse on Wood Street. At the forefront of the rise of the rave and dance music culture, it moved to its long standing home at Nation in Wolstenholme Square and quickly became known for its iconic events and DJ lineup. The Cream branding and events are now synonymous with the dance music scene across the world, with it’s now world famous annual Creamfields music festival hosted in the North West, along with events all over Europe and beyond.
The Crazy House: Located at the bottom of Wood St, this was just 3 floors of carnage. Ground floor was pure goth, heavy metal gear with people full of face paint, piercings and leather, known as the K1. 2nd floor (K2) was your indie music and the top floor (K3) was pop and dance. Although it was notoriously dark and dingy, the two for one’s on the cheap alco-pops meant you’d see plenty of multi-coloured sick.
Garlands: Opening in 1993, the now legendary gay club played some of the best funky house around. Also holding nights in Ibiza, Garlands was always packed to the rafters despite the notoriously picky (and intimidating bouncers). “Been in here before, lad?…”. Known for its ridiculously flamboyant events, the tagline ‘Garlands made me do it’ summed up the party vibe for this place perfectly. A fire in 2002 meant a change in venue to the also legendary State, just round the corner, which as a side note was where the music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” was filmed.
Honourable mention for The Quad, The Buzz, The Conti’, The Paradox. The State & of course, The Grafton. All famous Liverpool nightlife hotspots in their time….
Missed any off? Let me know!…