Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Le Phonographique

Within a fortnight of seeing the Sisters for the first time, I had become a regular at Le Phonographique,the now legendary club of that era credited these days with being the Northern outpost of gothdom.
At the time, it was the main option for those seeking a club playing an alternative music, and free admission and cheap drinks for students on a Monday night out seemed too good a deal to miss. Initially, a night out there would not seem too promising,a non-descript doorway in a bland 70s shopping centre leading directly to a flight of stairs down to a small, airless dungeon, with the cloakroom and till at the bottom of the stairs, the toilets and bar away to the left, the dancefloor, DJ booth and plush seating away to the right, with mirrored pillars dividing up the relatively small space. Back in Autumn 1982 it seemed to attract a motley crew who had come for the music and the vibe,  with a barely changing set list, featuring Bowie's Queen Bitch, the Velvets' Venus in Furs, Killing Joke's Pssyche,  Virgin Prunes' Baby Turns Blue, and most of the recorded output of Theatre of Hate/Spear of Destiny. By 1983, the Meteors' Wreckin' Crew and Violent Femmes' Add It Up and Gone Daddy Gone would be added to the mix, but even by mid-October '82 both Alice and in particular  Floorshow filled the dancefloor more than any of the others, and it was clear that the Sisters were onto something. Within a few months any club night, chart, indie, metal or whatever, would be playing both sides of the breakthrough single early in the evening or risk having the DJ beseiged with requests.
As for Le Phono, I kept going for the next few years, but never witnessed any of the lively shenanigans alleged to have happened back then, and the club came to an end in 1992, struggling on as Bar Phono for another decade and now boarded up. Back in Autumn '82, Si Denbigh and Ben Gunn were regular visitors, but sitings of the other Sisters there were rare.But for me, like for most patrons, the music was the real attraction.

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