TagJumpin Jaks

A night out at Buzz Wakefield October 1997

Note – the current operators of Buzz Wakefield were in no way involved with this venue on the night of our visit.

A night out at Buzz Wakefield October 1997

We visited on a very cold Wednesday night. The streets were quiet, but those who were out were smartly dressed. As thought anticipating an over 25s night that had failed to materialise. Many went  up to the illuminated frontage of Jumpin Jaks, but the building as closed, as was Club Ikon.

There was very little traffic in the Westgate area, although police vehicles maintained a constant presence. Most licensed premises were also quiet, with any customers rushing in to avoid the intense cold.

Yates`s had notice of an application for an Entertainments Licence to allow them to use a J to allow music for dancing – something from history in licensing terms

The busiest pub in the area was the Foreshaw and Firkin. Customers were casually dressed, but the atmosphere was excellent.

The Exclusive Exchange Bar certainly lived up to its name. They had only had two customers up to 10pm. The barman told us that Buzz was the best place to go afterwards, although it was reputed to be very overcrowded on weekend nights. He had been going there for two and a half years, but he was bored with it, and now favoured Jumpin Jaks; especially the Sunday Comedy Nights.

We also visited A Taste of The Alternative, a very busy student bar; also Rumours, a feeder bar for the LA nightclub underneath, which was open until 1am. We then moved to Barristers, a Wetherspoon`s look-alike bar, which was also quiet. The staff told us that Buzz was becoming very rough and ready, but that Jumpin Jaks was “brilliant”.

A lone door supervisor stood at the entrance to Buzz. He had an unfriendly style, and ignored us as we entered. We paid our £1 admission fee, while some others signed the guest book and were admitted free.

It was a 70s night, with all the bar staff dressed in the sort of accentuated costumes that give the decade a false image. The DJ called himself Johnny Diamond, but there was little sparkle to his performance. He played a selection of the most boring and overplayed music of the era – which reinforced the negative comments we had experienced in the earlier bars.

Gradually the building began to fill with mature and well-dressed customers. Bar service was good, and all drinks were 50p before 11pm, which caused some people to hoard, but as most people did not arrive until 11.30 and later, the discount had little impact on the vast majority of those attending.

The toilets were dreadful, and with the complete absence of a cleaner. Cubicle doors were broken, locks were missing, tiles cracked and/or damaged, and damp patches on the ceiling.

When we spoke to some of the other customers it was apparent that most of them were from outside of the Wakefield area, and were either on business, or training courses. With Buzz being the only main stream late night club open, and the attraction of a 1970s night, they had decided to give it a “go”.

Locarno Boy Note – we had visited Buzz on an earlier weekend night, but did not take notes, although we remember a great section of differing music styles in different rooms, plus a friendly and switched on management team – who were highly regarded by the licencing authorities.

We were particularly impressed on that occasion by the 50s room, which was full of young people dancing to their “parents” music, although we suspected that if the parents did come along the young people would quickly scarper.


Image from localdatasearch.com


I visited – Time – Ikon and Jumpin Jaks Swansea on a Saturday night in June 1999

I visited – Time – Ikon and Jumpin Jaks Swansea on a Saturday night in June 1999 and found an interesting collection of diverse clubs in close proximity.

By 10pm there was a huge queue for Jumpin Jak`s. Manager Tony Fox greeted me and took me into a room resembling a nightclub manager`s paradise.

Wall to wall customers to die for. All smartly dressed, 25 plus, and smiling, laughing and dancing as though at one big friendly party.

Entertainment was from a lady who looked like Bette Midler and sang like Annie Lennox. She had the audience in the palm of her hand, and the atmosphere was electric. The room was huge, and looked as though it could accommodate 1500 people, and judging by the queue it could have been filled twice over. Support entertainment came from “dueling pianos” –

And the audience loved them too.

Tony showed me into Time, which is the smallest of the rooms, and with a clientele of around 22 to 25 years old. The music was diverse, but the room was popular. Hand stamps allowed customers to move freely into into Ikon, which was large, but not busy.

Swansea had allegedly suffered a huge drug, threats and protectionism problem during the previous year, whereby local door agencies had attempted, and sometimes succeeded in taking over some of the nightclubs and bars.

Consequently Tony had an army of thirty door staff, overseen by a smiling giant of a man called Eden.

Eden came from Birmingham, and knew Linkie Wilson who controlled the door at The Black Orchid Nottingham. In fact many of Eden`s staff travelled from Birmingham to Swansea each night.

They worked for a company called Leisure Security

The European Leisure club Uropa had almost lost its licence because of drug problems, and the police had allegedly stated that there wasn`t a decent door agency in the area. Consequently the front doors at Time, Ikon and Jumpin Jak`s looked heavy and sometimes uncompromising, but the interior of the premises felt relaxed and safe.

As for the other premises around?

No contest!

Swansea was the first Jumpin Jaks I ever saw. It was also the best I ever saw.

What an atmosphere!


Image from brillianttv.co.uk

No one ever cared more about his nightclub than Mike Knight at Nottingham Palais/Ritzy

No ever cared more about his nightclub than Mike Knight at Nottingham Ritzy.

Mike had nurtured and cared for the club for decades, initially as part of Mecca as the Palais and Ritzy, and finally under the stewardship of Luminar Leisure.

He also settled himself into local history as being one of the permanent personalities in the Nottingham entertainment world, and a capable pair of hands as far as safety, profits and reliability were concerned. In addition he has watched hundreds of thousands of dancers relaxing and enjoying the entertainment presented from his stage and DJ consuls.

We also hear that he was something of a dab hand on the old DJ decks himself.

Some days he could be a bit grumpy – especially with those he saw as being a threat to his business – and especially when the Black Orchid opened and he had to go into battle to keep his share of customers. But everyone respected him; and that remains.

What the Palais and Ritzy had in common was a genuine warmth of welcome for its eclectic mix of customers of all ages. Alongside music policies that suited everyone, which made the customers always come back for more. The Palais was the Palais, Ritzy was Ritzy. That was the order of things. They were always going to be there. And so was Mike…….But

When Jumpin Jacks came to Nottingham, everything changed.

Jumpin Jacks was a live entertainment led show bar, set on a rustic American Gold rush theme. Bar staff presented dance routines on stage, and much of the entertainment was provided by an up beat pianist.

“Just the thing for Ritzy customers”, suggested the Luminar old guard, “Ritzy can play more dance music – be more up to date.”

Consequently the Ritzy attendance dropped. On occasions it was possible to find six people dancing on the floor with a far away look on their faces, to beats and rhythms that were unfamiliar to the loyal customers who remained.

Clearly this was the end of Ritzy – and the overture to Oceana.

Mike resigned and now runs a successful training company, and is chairman of the Nottingham Pubwatch.

He also epitomises the spirit of the industry.

Mike Knight – Survivor!

The man who really cares.


Image from www.dreamtargets.com

Notes on a visit to Lincoln Jumpin Jaks – Ritzy and Pulse – July 1999

The following post comes from notes taken on a visit to Lincoln Jumpin Jaks – Ritzy and Pulse – July 1999, at the time when the Rank nightclubs were up for disposal. Rank had previously taken over the Mecca Dancing estate.

Of course the eventual outcome was that Luminar took over the whole of the Rank estate, with this venue currently (2012) being one of the Lincoln  success stories, under the management of Paul Aloo.

I understand that the club was originally a Cinderella Rockerfellas, under the Mecca Dancing banner. Mecca took over Stringfellows highly successful Leeds venue and rolled out the brand.

Now back to the visit –

Manager Mehmet Bekir explained that Barracuda was the main problem venue in the city, but there was general concern at the large number of bars within the central area. Mehmet was not particularly affable, which seemed contrary to the needs of a small city nightclub. However, his disco rooms successfully traded 6 nights per week, although things did not look so good in Jumpin Jaks. Despite this being the smallest of the brand it traded badly.

Mehmet had previously managed The Venue in Bedford, and was concerned incase another club were to open in the city.

Legends (Luminar) was his main opposition nightclub, which I had visited earlier and found to be very busy prior to 10pm. Then the subject of a mass exodus when the £1 drinks policy ended. Leaving mountains of uncollected bottles and glasses on the tables.

Goodness knows what Mehmet would have made of the current situation –

With Ritzy, Tokyos, Lola Li and Home all fighting it out for pole position in the city.


Images from Ritzy website

Excitement, Originality and pure Showmanship; a Lesson in Nightclub Management

One my most exciting club visits was to the Ikon/Diva/Jumpin Jaks complex in Southampton.

Rank Leisure was up for sale. The industry had entered a dismal period, seemingly bereft of ideas. It was late and I was tired. So I only went out for a quick beer.

Or so I thought!

The second I entered the main room I was wide awake.

It was a dance night. The room was full; not only of people, but also colour, excitement, originality and pure showmanship; a lesson in nightclub management.

The entertainment team certainly knew their stuff. Everyone was dancing, with the lighting perfectly synchronised to the music.

Then a quick black out after which only a raised area on the dance floor was flooded with white light, illuminating a podium filled with dancers wearing a spectacular assortment of silver costumes. Another blackout and back to the dance floor scene.

After a while; another quick blackout after which two spotlights flashed across the room to illuminate a two acrobatic dancers way up high to my left.

Back to the dance floor scene, then another blackout, and this time a sound cut out as another podium was flooded with white light. This time illuminating a second podium full of musicians in gold outfits who kept the excitement pounding via a mass of percussion instruments.

Back to the dance floor scene and the introduction of ultra violet lighting as a flock of huge spectacular blue birds and butterflies flew high above the dance floor, choreographed by stilt walkers intermingling with the dancers.

This was not only a night for the customers, it was also an exercise in presentation and showmanship for entertainers and management.

I spoke with one of the junior management who explained that the only cost was the two “high level” acrobatic dancers. Those wearing the gold and silver outfits were admitted free, and the bluebirds and butterflies were created by art students as projects at the local college.

After this I visited Jumping Jacks.

I think you know what I discovered.

It was packed full of people, atmosphere and showmanship.

Last customer out of the building?

You bet!

Image from acpassion.net

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