Words by Marigold Warner
For those of us that experienced the weekly ritual of Quids In every Monday at Halo, the news of its closure last year was disappointing – regardless of whether we found it enjoyable or excruciating.
Such a stately and convenient venue going to waste seemed like a real shame. Little did we know, until last weekend this converted church had been barely reaching its full potential for as long as it has been standing.
The news of its reopening had more than a few people in doubt. It was hard to reimagine the vomit-reeking, over-capacitated, rowdy club as anything other than the student mating ground that it had earnt its reputation of.
Those who may have judged Dave Beer as a veteran of a past era couldn’t have been more wrong. With the help of Aaron Meller from Tokyo Industries and Peter Hook of New Order, Beer scraped up the remnants of the stagnating club culture in Leeds and gave it a much needed £200,000 revamp.
Back to Basics completely changed the game on Saturday night, transforming what was a decaying architectural gem into a venue that is worthy of the stellar line-ups that will grace its grounds in the coming months.
(Back To Basics co-founder and Church Creative Director, Dave Beer opening proceedings)
On arrival the queue stretched almost to the top of Woodhouse street, with a crowd most likely unaware and under-prepared for the debauchery that was to take place under the spire that night.
Any sense of being in Halo disappeared within the first five minutes of entering Church. Drag queens wearing blinking lights and extravagantly dressed performers pranced seductively around the stage, with booming house music and a spectacle of lights flashing over an already packed out club.
The heavy duty L-Acoustics sound and mesmerising projection mapping set against the beautiful gothic foundations and stained glass windows created a peculiar aesthetic juxtaposition – forming a truly immersive and stunning and audio visual experience that you will struggle to find anywhere else in the city.
Headlining the night was Crosstown Rebels founder Damian Lazarus. Renowned for his enigmatic character and shadowy musical story-telling, he was the perfect man to cast the spell and bring back Basics bigger than ever.
Following residents Dave Beer and James Holoryd, Damian Lazarus started his set eerily with tracks like‘Womb’ by Adriatique, working his way through cryptic beats and fleeting melodies to a much anticipated spin of ‘Sacred Dance of the Demon’, proving him to be the true-storyteller that he is.
(Basics resident Ralph Lawson)
The crowd was heaving by this point, spilling onto every surface of the multi-layered arrangement. Damian Lazarus’ getup of a long white coat and matching hat, along with the eccentric dancers circling around him shaped the glow of a true hedonistic paradise.
Closing the night was the man accountable for spinning the first ever record at Basics. Ralph Lawson wrapped it up how he knows best, dropping more recent favourites like Jonas Rathman’s remix of ‘Complex’, and ending on a personal favourite, and Basics classic, Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s ‘Hi-Tech Jazz’.
While Basics may have stuck around for the last 25 years, it is undeniable that club culture in the UK is plummeting. The ethos of partying has very much altered since 1991, when Beer and co-founder Alistair Cooke first occupied the top floor of gay club The Music Factory. With the decline of venues that are culturally uplifting, it is hopeful to see a place like Church rise out of the ashes.
Christened as a club by the people, for the people, Church has already asserted itself as easily the best venue in Leeds. Alongside, Back to Basics has finally built themselves the home they deserve, and resurrected their status as the best and longest running clubnight in the UK.
Words by Marigold Warner
Photos courtesy of Church