When night falls – out come the party people

Darlington has recently become known as a small, crumbling, market town. Some say it died years ago, but when night falls – out come the party people. Out comes the party atmosphere with a town full of vibrant bars and clubs. Enough to take anyone’s fancy. Rumour has it that Darlington`s Skinnergate strip has more pubs and nightlife in one street than any other town in the UK.

Aspire Bar - Darlington

Aspire Bar - Darlington

Of late there have been three different nightclubs in the town, each with its share of success and controversy.

“Inside Out” is the only nightclub currently open in Darlington, with three rooms playing mainly dance and RnB music, and is quite popular with young adults. We enjoy this club, but the rooms are cramped, with one often dangerously overcrowded.

There was an incident in the past where a guy died following an altercation with bouncers however we found this club to be safe, and the bouncers have always appeared relaxed and friendly towards customers.

“Mish Mash” club is currently closed and has had more owners than I can remember. It was previously known as Cactus Jacks, then controversial gentleman`s club, The Lounge and Purple Zebra – where saucy dancers were all the rage.

Despite the controversy this club was always full of life; whether it was the dancers, the rodeo bull, or the sports bar with pool table – either way the club had an exciting vibe and everyone had fun. A strict code of conduct was in force. Maybe this is what made the venue a partial success; however the club always ended in closure, then by a new owner.

Escapade was the lower class club which was always subject to criticism and controversy, and will always have a dark cloud over its history. The management of this club were far too lenient, which lead to the death of Andrew Gibson following a club assault, by an underage boy who had been allowed entry into the club. This caused its closure around a year ago.

Escapade Darlington - Currently Closed

The club was always popular and had 3 rooms playing a range of music. Its lenient policy often left the club wide open to underage drinking, and the cheap drinks offers often lead to blue WKD sick splattered on the floors. The numerous fights seemed to be a weekly occurrence here.

Despite the violence and management leniency, the place had character. There were regular theme nights and tribute acts, all helping create a popular meeting place.

The club is soon to reopen under new management.

Wonder if any lessons have been learnt?


Aspire image courtesy declan Ecapade image courtesy markh737 via flikr

Attractions at the North East Bailey Clubs from December 1966

I wonder how many of the attractions at the North East Bailey clubs from December 1966 are still remembered today.

The Cavendish Newcastle, Contessa Middlesbrough, La Bamba Darlington, Wetheralls Sunderland, Marimba Middlesbrough, Tito`s Stockton, La Dolce Vita Newcastle and Latino South Shields listed the following artists in their December advertising –

Lance Percival   –   David and Jonathan   –   The Paul Andrews Show   –   The Four Pennies   –   Dickie Arnold and Dottie   –   Virginia Lee   –   Jack Hammer   –   Malcolm Mitchel   –   Gordon Peters   –   The Denis Lotis Show   –   Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee   –   Paul Andrews   –   X`Caliburs   –   Acker Bilk   –   Wee Willy Harris   –   Valerie Masters   –   Virginia Lee   –   New Vaudeville Band   –   John Bouchier   –   Millicent Martin   and 1964 Miss World Ann Sidney

Each act was a club-filler, many of which were television and recording stars of the day

And just in case you thought that audiences were prudish – we have added an image of Dickie Arnold and Dottie ……….       at the point where she walks away from the guitar …………

And of course the guitar (sorry lute) comes apart ……………………..

Just in case you wondered.


Dickie and Dottie image from myspace  – Four Pennies from





By that time I had a great black eye as well.

My first night in Darlington as General Manger in Lucinda’s which later became the Mardi Gas. As normal when I took over a new unit, just went around and introduced myself to the staff one by one as I came across them but keep a low profile, just watch to see how the club operates. It was about 11.30 pm and its fairly busy, stood watching the dance floor, feeling the atmosphere, the lighting, the sound, the music as you do!!!

Then a fights breaks out in front of me between two girls, should have know better, girls fighting. No radios in those days, so natually you jump in. First night not a good idea, This girl grabs my hair and just wouldn’t let go, then to top it all, a doorman came up behind me grabbed me by the waist, lifted me up, and the girl still had hold of my hair.

The doorman who’s name I won’t mention then just pulled and pulls me, my hair was left in the girls hands. He then carried me outside the club and dumps me on the pavement!!!!

The look on his face when I turned around I still see clearly now, I think he went into shock. I didn’t say a word! I just looked at him and walked back into the club.

The head doorman Ted came up to me and asked if I was ok, I didn’t reply just put my hand to my head and gave him a handful of my hair that had been pulled out, and the next time he came around to me I did the same, but didn’t say a word. The doorman who threw me out of my own club came up to me and I gave him my hair!!!

At the end of the night I bought them a drink and we had a laugh even by that time I had a great black eye as well.

My regional manager rang me the next day to ask how the night had gone.

I said, “Yes a really good night, got a black eye, hair loss of about 20 % and thrown out by my own doorman – so who can complain about that.”

But what a team of doorstaff I had from then on, respect!!!


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