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memories of growing up in a one club town

As we release the video for Real Lies' new single One Club Town, we asked our friends and family to share their memories of the clubs that defined their youths.

by i-D Staff
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05 February 2016, 12:05pm

"Clubbin' in Kent! LOL..... sums it all up. AMADEUS, RAMMA JAMMA! I didn't have to travel outside of Medway.... Rochester's Amadeus was voted the UK's best one room nightclub by Zoo or Nuts. DJ Luck and MC Neat played at least once a month. There was a bus service that ran along the A2, stopped at each pub and picked everyone up at 10 and again at 11. Then dropped you back at 2:30am. It was perfect if you didn't drive or weren't old enough to. If you went often enough you'd even be allowed in the VIP section. Foam parties and garage was the vibe.... I'm sure there were times (years) when I went 3 nights a week." Liam Hodges, designer

"Growing up in Kent was teenage purgatory. By the time I was 17 my elder brother and sister had both moved back to London and I was all too aware that I lived in a town where fuck all happened except fights on a Friday. I was rubbish at fighting. When my mate Chris got his driving license, weekends became a million times better. We'd cobble together money for puff, speed and pills and drive up to London banging lungs all the way. We tried a few different clubs, mostly searching out techno. After a few misfires we found ourselves in the 414 on Cold Harbour Lane. It had a soundtrack of stoopid high speed acid techno that we'd never heard before (or have since tbh) and was full of hardened ravers, smashed students, the occasional Brixton celebrity, mental old acid casualties and (to my yokel Kentish eyes) impossibly beautiful punkish techno girls. We started travelling to the 414 whenever we could, bringing up our mates, converting Canterbury lads who'd previously spent their weekends battering strangers down The Biz to come and spend that energy going nuts to acid techno. I truly loved it in there. The music had a mad energy and everyone in the place seemed to be on the same tip, a complete refutation of the worries of life. After a golden period, Ketamine took over the scene - in reality this was probably only 18 months after we first started going. The music turned into a nasty dirge and we all wanted to listen to drum n bass now anyway. It was great while it lasted." Ian McQuaid, journalist, DJ and promoter

"The Tunbridge Wells Forum went through phases. When I was growing up it was a really buzzing place and there'd always be massive wars outside cause everyone would go down outside the Forum drinking on a Friday night. It was a chavs vs. grungers sort of thing. I watched so many fistfights. We've got a song called Girl Fight and I think it's clever cause if you've ever seen a girl fight it just makes you think of your one, and the one I remember is in Tunbridge Wells. I saw these two girls on the Green outside kicking the shit out of each other. One girl literally had the other girl by the head and was repeatedly kneeing and kicking her in the face while she was throwing her around the grass. Tunbridge Wells girl fights mate!" Isaac, musician in Slaves

"I used to be really into clubbing. In the early noughties we were just on the tail end of the super club and Stoke-on-Trent had a few really iconic clubs in it's heyday. Shelley's in the 90s and later the Void in Hanley (Stoke is made of five towns) The Void didn't just attract the misfits from Stoke, people travelled from all over the country to go there and it was full of weird and wonderfully loved up people looking like nothing I had ever seen before. It was a musical diamond in a city that had been on its arse since the loss of of its ceramic industrial heart. The Void was our escape from a harsh mass unemployed reality. Long live the Void!" Matthew Miller, designer

"My first experience of a night club was De Niro's in Newmarket. On the way we used to drink warm tins in the back of my older brother's best mate's red Seat Ibiza and listen to Nicky Blackmarket on his six disc CD changer. I would go straight to the bar and sink pints in order to speak to girls and enter the frenetic nature of the dance floor. I was always tall so could see myself in the mirror above everyones heads, dancing like a dickhead to Now 36. The more pints I had the easier it became. The clubs gone but nothing's changed. John Holt, LAW Magazine

"I grew up in quite an idyllic Yorkshire village surrounded by fields, hay bales, and cows. The streets were safe, and the air was clean. The village is called Drax, which I realise sounds like a Transylvanian washing detergent, but this only added to its majestic charm, and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

When I reached that pubescent peak of needing to explore more than drinking cider in a park, and desperately trying to get a girl's number that I couldn't afford to text because I'd spent all my money on that damn cider. My glorious answer came by way of Selby, the nearest town to me, and the home of Jems, one of Yorkshires most glorious nightlife extravaganzas, read: the only place that we knew of that 'let in' under age people. By the summer of Year 10, word had spread like wildfire and me and my buddies were desperate to see this beautiful mecca.

As I approached the queue for the first time, I was terrified. Trying to look like I knew exactly what was happening and used to this whole procedure, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and started to play snake. Regretfully the bouncer saw this and immediately asked my age, but the beauty of being the only black person in a 30 mile radius is that the race card will always come up trumps, and flippant remarks such as black not cracking, or 'is it because I'm black' can get you unspeakably far.

Whilst one of my mates was necking some 40 year old bird, I found the girl I fancied, and yesssss we kissed. It was an awful experience, as it transpired she had promptly been sick down the side of a sticky sofa 5 minutes before. That smell of teenage perfume, vomit, chewing gum and Blue WKD is something that still haunts me to this day. Suffice to say I did not return to Jems." Agi Mdumulla, designer, Agi & Sam

"I grew up in the epicentre of the midlands - Lincoln. Apart from Sugarcubes or 'Cubes' the local heavy metal and goth club, the only real good club night with non dickheads was moda at a place called The Cell. It was a tiny two floor bar and double dance floor place with a tiny balcony upstairs. It was always rammed and brought a lot of DJs you'd never expect to see (mostly wonky house DJs from London). Somehow, at 16, I was mates with the big Samoan bouncer and one of the bar staff so got in all the time and got hammered. My best experience was also my worst, I won't elaborate as my mum will probably read this." James Jacob, producer

I remember going to my first Northern Soul all nighter at The Carleton Club in Morecambe when I was about 16. It sounds strange now but it was just before the advent of Youtube and so, whereas in 2016 you might watch videos of one before you went, I had literally no idea how people danced to the stuff. When first I saw the talcum powder coming out and these big, working class men floating across the floor, I couldn't believe it. The Carlton's gone now - officially making Morecambe a No Club Town - but Chippy, the World Northern Soul Dancing Champion, still lives there. You can see him pirouetting up and down the promenade everyday at about half past six, headphones on, forever keeping the faith. Matthew, Morecambe

"I'm not from a one club town, I'm from a town which once upon time probably had too many clubs, now almost every place I ever had a vaguely defining moment doesn't exist any more. From Madame JoJo's to Astoria 2 and our beloved Peoples most recently. I had my fair share of good times as a teenager but for the most part I felt like an outsider. After the initial buzz of getting in without too much hassle in regards to being underage it would quickly descend into a sense of loneliness, I spent the majority of my time in the smoking area looking at my phone. I wasn't in with the in crowd. This all changed at Peoples Club. There was no in crowd, just a crowd. People without inhibitions, Just having a good time. It felt like a rebirth, made me fall back in love with town I had become jaded with. I'll look back on those two years and probably the best of my life." Joseph Bradbury, musician, The Rhythm Method

I grew up in a small town in Essex called Bradwell, next to Braintree (where The Prodigy are from FYI), because that's where my dad's job was. For my 16th birthday I thought it would be hilarious to invite all my best friends from school to stay the weekend there to celebrate my birthday and the glorious end of GCSEs.

The theme was 'superheroes' and the plan was to burn all of our schoolwork on a bonfire in the field opposite the house and then get pissed. It all went to plan; we put on our awesome costumes, lugged all of our books and papers to the field and set the bitch alight and ceremoniously dance around it in a culty circle...

As the sky grew darker, our spirits grew brighter and very insensible ideas started to brew between us. We'd seen a flyer for a karaoke night at the town hall down the road and, after a slurred debate, decided it would be only be rude not to join the party. We sucked the box o' sour grape down and swigged all the K ciders and Red Stripes. We were ready to sing. "Go hard or... go hard" was our motto, and we were determined to stay true to it and ourselves. We marched on.

Knock, knock, knock. We have arrived. OMG GUYS they're singing Atomic Kitten, I fuuuuhkinggg luuuuhv this song oh ma guh..."

"Are you girls from around here?" someone asked. We had arrived. The mic was ours now. We didn't even need the lyrics on the screen, we made up our own better lyrics. 

"We love you Braintree!" My friends screamed at the end of the performance.

"This is Bradwell." (I knew that)

We shamefully showed ourselves to the exit. Forgetting the town hall door was no longer a functioning door, we attempted (relentlessly) to open it, making an embarrassingly loud echo through the hall from rattling the old heavy door handle. We were eventually pointed to the actual exit on the side of the building and dragged ourselves all the way back down the road to the house, where we patted ourselves on the back and drank the rest of whatever we had... Until I wet myself and had to be taken to bed by my dad. Sweet 16. Lily Newmark, Model

"My 'one club town' was Shoobz a night/club in the middle of Selhurst and East Croydon (nuff said). In 2006, it was my first and only time goin to this dingy night, it was the beginning of dubstep, and although the nightclub was in the outskirts of London it actually spawned the first dubsteppers, Benga and Scream passed through there. I loved this night but it was also survival of the fittest!" Georgia, Musician

"Monday night EDM HOUSE AND TRAP. £7 entry before 11, £10 after. Ladies get in for free. Dress code: no bubble shoes" read the poster for what might potentially be one of the best or worse nights of my life....

Room One is home to a strict playlist of cheesy pop tunes like the Macarena and Stacey's Mom, Room Two is where you'll find house remixes of all your favourite Beyonce songs and Room Three, the loneliest room of this club, the Drum 'n' Bass room, usually full of sweaty emos dancing to Netsky. Not many girls here.

As you stand sipping your pink VK and looking across the room, your attention is drawn to to the slightly overweight, slightly too old to be here type of man in an Arsenal football shirt and what look like Clarks school shoes, getting a little bit too lairy to the sounds of I Get Knocked Down by Chummbawumma. You wouldn't find this in London, This is small town clubbing, this is my one club town." Issy Martin, London

"In a millennium Nantwich has gone from salt mine to battleground to home of Greg's nightclub. Nantwich's big brother is Crewe, a post-industrial wasteland turned call centre capital. Instead of Nantwich's coffee shops and jazz festivals, Crewe, one-time teenage pregnancy capital of the EU, has a Bargain Booze distribution centre and a JD sports. The two towns overlap, the one thing they share is the solitary nightclub. Greg's has been the stage of generations of the South Cheshire youths' hay days.

At the height of my patronage it was Sean Paul upstairs and the Kooks downstairs. It's wasn't about the music, there was no scene. It was the only place, it was everyone's. For us lot, a gaggle of 18 year old lads it was about trying to pull girls. There was always more lads than girls, which always caused a bit of bother on the dancefloor and made pulling more difficult.

Once so desperate to get in, a couple of my mates spent a night in the cells for jumping over barbed wire and scaling a pub roof. By the time we were 19 we still went but we moaned relentlessly about how shit it was. The methedrone explosion of 2010 was quite big for Greg's. Instead of asking us "what the fuck are you wearing" the Henley's clad chavs wanted to know how we were and what we were up to.

I can't remember the last time I went in, lives change and people move on. It doesn't even open on a Friday night anymore. The kids need to dance, we didn't give a fuck on the dance floor. I hope it's there for generations to come. Long live Greg's!"
Jordan, Crewe