Ahead of Wire’s 10th Anniversary weekend, we take a look at how the underground club has endeared itself to the Leeds faithful with a little help from those with experience on both sides of the decks.
Making the decent into the Wire basement is often an experience that brings you closer to complete strangers. While this is most certainly the case when squeezing together in order to be as close to the DJ booth as possible, a sense of community is never too distant, an aura that many clubs feel so empty without, despite being filled to capacity. Many aspects contribute to Wire being one of most loved spots in the centre of Leeds. From its intriguing cavernous design to housing some of the most forward thinking club nights in the north of the country, Wire has won the hearts of the many that regularly frequent its dance floor. Having been a purveyor of Leeds’ underground tastes for the best part of the last decade, Wire will celebrate its 10th anniversary over the course of the weekend of the 29th of January.
Wire has played host to a multitude of nights and brands residing in Leeds over the course of the last 10 years. From the likes of current occupants Butter Side Up, Jamz and One Night With to mono_cult, SubDub and Back To Basics, all of which have called the venue home from one time to another. Ensuring new sounds can be discovered in the club on a regular basis is no easy feat, and a responsibility that lies with Wire’s current bookings manager, Hamish Cole. Having first experienced Wire 8 years ago when a student in the city, the club had a lasting effect on the eventual bookings manager. “Wire has always been my favourite club in Leeds, even way before I started putting on events there. I was instantly drawn to how intimate the club is, along with the DJ booth being level with the crowd.”
Since taking on the job of bookings manager 2 years ago, Hamish has played an integral part in Wire accumulating its reputation which now sees the club play host to high profile bookings on a regular basis. However, this would have been an impossible achievement without the continuing efforts of the club’s managers Fay Brannigan, Tom Alcott and directors John Morelli and Steve Allison. One of the steps taken to allow Wire to reach its current status involved stopping the club’s weekly indie night on a Saturday, Straight up. “This meant we had space to put on more guest bookings on the weekends and offer them out to external promoters. I personally had the challenge of filing all the weekend dates with the right events. Now 2 years on from that we have huge headliners and guests playing at the club every week. We look at our past guests that have played over the years and it really is amazing how many artists from across the spectrum of electronic music have played in Wire.” The likes of Pearson Sound’s vinyl only Acetate and One Night With are example of Wire’s willingness to bring something new to the events schedule in Leeds. The brain child of both Hamish and Kyle McSparron, manager of sister club HiFi, One Night With invites one DJ or label showcase to play all night long allowing DJs to delve deep into their record collections. With previous guests including Roman Flugel, Osgut Ton’s Steffi and Nick Hoppner, Floating Points, Midand and Joy Orbison, regular outings for One Night With continue to add to Wire’s ever growing profile at the forefront of Leeds’ electronic music scene.
With cutting edge sounds regularly bounding around the club’s structure, Wire has grown into more than just another nightclub, instead exiting as an entity for creativity, something which Ben UFO understands better than most. Before the days of being one of the most recognisable names in the electronic music scene, Ben Thompson was another regular in the Wire basement. “I first started going to Wire in its previous incarnation – Thinktank – for the Momentum club nights. The first night I went to was either in 2004 or 2005, I remember Martyn and Flight being on the bill. It was already a good space then, but it was really when the club was refurbished and the Funktion 1 system was installed that it really came into its own I think.”
At this point the word Hessle was more closely related to a group of streets in Hyde Park, Leeds rather than a record label. From here Ben teamed up with a group of friends containing two thirds of the soon to be Hessle Audio, Pearson Sound and Pangaea, and together put on their own night at the club. Ruffage was born, a night which ran from 2006-2010 in Leeds. The night showcased emerging sounds from the dubstep scene and, according to Ben UFO, was a factor in proving the imputus to set up the Hessle Audio label. “At the time there were no nights dedicated to dubstep in town – so we decided to start one. We tried a few different venues but Wire was the only place we ever really felt was home. The music we gravitated towards worked best in a dark room with a good sound-system, so Wire was perfect.”
In the time Ruffage called Wire home, the likes of Mount Kimbie brought their live act to the dance floor, most notably due to a lack of stage, with a little known James Blake on vocals. Further bookings included Peverelist, Martyn, Brackles, Shackleton and Kode 9 who were all on hand to put the sound system through its paces. However, one particularly euphoric moment spent in the famous basement sticks out in memory for the Hessle Audio head. “My favourite night at the club was probably the final Ruffage. We booked Shackleton and Kode 9, who we still hugely looked up to through all the musical changes of the previous 4 years, and the whole crew DJed together for the rest of the night. We named our party after a track by Loefah, which speaks to our devotion to that sound when we started promoting, and the inevitable moment that record was played towards the end of the night, surrounded by friends, is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life!” With a shift in interests and a handful of other dubstep orientated nights residing in the city, Ruffage left Wire and Leeds with a host of great memories.
Another DJ and at one time Leeds resident that has had experiences on both sides of the Wire decks is Midland. Like Ben UFO, Midland was drawn to Wire because of the Momentum drum and bass nights that took place at the club, becoming a regular haunt for the Aus producer for 4 years. After lending a hand with Ruffage which involved flyering around the university campus and aiding in lugging the High Pressure Sound System down the stairs into the Wire Basement, Midland took a job working behind the bar at the club. This allowed for a unique insight into Wire both musically and logistically for Midland as well as providing memorable moments from the opposite side of the DJ booth. “There are too many to mention, but a few memories that stick out: Commix dropping their remix of Rufige Kru Is This Real at Momentum and the place going bananas. Martyn dropping his remix of Cosmin TRG’s Broken Heart at Ruffage and it getting something like 4 rewinds. Dixon dropping Âme’s Junggesellenmaschine during his first ever set for mono_cult and feeling like the roof was going to implode.”
In his time playing and working at the club, Midland has experienced first hand the bond that is formed between the DJ and those in attendance, a feeling which so many who have frequented the dance floor of Wire can relate to. “A memory that sticks out is Greg Wilson playing Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac during one of my shifts. I was going through a really tough time in my personal life and for those 4 minutes it totally transported me away”. Since then, Midland has come full circle; from working behind the bar till the early hours, Midland now goes to works behind the decks all night long, an experience which Wire was treated to in September of last year.
It is clear that the charms of Wire not only draw the same faces to its dance floor on a regular basis. With so many DJs returning to the club to play, providing a memorable experience for those in charge of record selection is a crucial element of what Wire is all about. With DJs always seemingly up for the occasion there it is no coincidence so many great memories have been shared in the club. Whether it be cramming up to the DJ booth to offer a hand with those sound tracking the party, or DJs going above and beyond and playing well into the early hours, Wire is a club that seems to bring out the best in those on both sides of the decks.
Photo courtesy of Justin Gardner