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The Future of UK Nightlife: Is it Dying or Evolving?

The Future of UK Nightlife: Is it Dying or Evolving?

5 February 2024

Gregory Devine

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Person waiting outside a pub in manchester
Photo by Tak-Kei Wong on Unsplash

With nightclub chain PRYZM closing down most of its venues, is this the beginning of the end for the UK’s night scene or is this simply a new era?

Last year I genuinely believed that UK Nightlife for most UK cities was close to dying and there was certainly some truth to that. Many venues were either downsizing or closing down completely due to high rent, lack of income and lack of staff. Whilst this is still the case, I’ve noticed a trend of many new venues opening up and being successful in addition to smaller clubs expanding.

The lockdowns were brutal for nightclubs up and down the country. There was no way for these places to generate income but there was still expensive rent to pay. These clubs are in prime city centre locations and tend to be large plots too so understandably the rent isn’t cheap. Many larger venues were forced to close down and whilst some have returned many haven’t. Take one of Sheffield’s largest clubs CODE. It used to be packed out most nights but after not making money for a prolonged period they had no choice but to close. Whilst they’ve returned on the odd night for Halloween or freshers there’s been no sign of a permanent return.

I don’t believe this is due to a lack of customers. If anything I’ve noticed nights out becoming busier than previously, I believe that those going on a night out are looking for something different than the previous generation may have enjoyed. The big clubs playing cheesy pop hits just aren’t appealing to people anymore. People don’t tend to enjoy staying in one venue, they want to “crawl” between different smaller venues, each with their charms and quirks for a collective night out. I’ve noticed a lot of these smaller venues having started opening more nights of the week and many have even expanded. The smaller clubs also allow for promoters to rent the club out to put on their nights making the promotion the main event rather than the venue. It means the clubs don’t have to cater to a specific genre, they can just focus on creating a nice venue and then rent the club out to promote the theme of the night accordingly.

A busy London Pub
Photo by Gonzalo Sanchez on Unsplash

A great example of this is one of Newcastle’s most popular clubs TupTup Palace. It's by no means the biggest club in the city by size but probably is by popularity. The club opens every night apart from Mondays, every event is busy including Sundays. With each night being slightly different you’ll find some people will prefer a Wednesday to a Tuesday. This is perfect for TupTup as whilst they won’t have the same people attending each night they will have the same weekly visitors. Having that loyal customer base who will most likely attend their favourite night every week means the club is constantly getting heads through the door, selling tickets and drinks which leads to the most important thing; turning a profit.

friends on a night out in the UK

Does this mean large clubs can’t exist anymore? Far from it, they’ve just had to evolve. There must now be a greater selling point than a “large club that plays pop music”. This is where raves come in. I don’t mean raves like in the 90s. These are organised nights where a lineup of popular DJs will each perform a set. The draw for the customer comes in a similar way to how a concert works. This is one of a few chances you will get to see your favourite artist so lots of people will want tickets to this one chance they have to see their favourite DJ in the city.

The Warehouse Project in Manchester is a great example of this. They use the huge old train shed at Depot Mayfield to create events with incredibly popular DJs. The line-ups will be different every weekend with different genres catered to. One night may be Drum and Bass with the next being Techno. Both are incredibly popular but don’t tend to be liked by the same people. When compared to how large clubs would have used an unknown DJ to play cheesy pop, these are well-renowned DJs with massive followings of fans desperate to see their sets. This gets people through the door, buying tickets and drinks which of course leads to profit.

Whilst many clubs have sadly closed their doors this, at least in my opinion, is due to them not evolving with the times. The UK night scene is still very much alive and active just not in the way it once was.

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