“ Friday nights at The Empire. „
When me and my girlfriend met just over two years ago (ahhh) one of our shared passions was clubbing, and when I asked her where she usually went clubbing, being a North Yorkshire lass, she replied ‘sugar shack’. It was the first proper club she had been to and I think it holds a special place in her heart, as all our first clubs do. So, ever since we started going out we’d been saying that we should really get ourselves up the A19 to Middlesborough and visit one of Mixmags ‘big nights’, an honour they only dish out to the cream of clubland, well, that’s what they say anyway. Eventually, two years after we met we finally got round to making the effort, and here’s the tale.. After placing ourselves on the guestlist during the day we set off to Middlesborough at about 8.30 hoping to get there for about 10, an hour after it’s opening time of 9. Following a brief detour round the city centre we finally found a good parking space on one of the streets surrounding the club, and after covering up all our valuables (it was Middlesborough after all) we made the short walk to the club. The first thing that we noticed was the large queue that we were expecting was non – existent and we waltzed straight in, there was no search (pity, I was looking forward to being manhandled by a large man, I mean, um..) and after paying our hard earned tenners we entered into the club. As you go in through the main door you are thrust into a bar area, there is a cloakroom (not that anyone ever wears coats in the north) to the right and the toilets are also located here. The Empire used to be a theatre and still contains many of it’s original features, so I guess this used to be the foyer where people gathered before and after the shows back in the old days before fun was invented. There are then two ways into the main room, located either side of the long bar, (where the drinks where about average for a club, £3 for
a smirnoff ice and £1.50 for a bottle of water) these place you either side of the dancefloor. The main room is pretty much symmetrical with limited seating areas to each side of the large waltzing area. The DJ is placed right at the front of the multi level dancefloor so they can really interact with the crowd, something that I think is very important in a good club. The décor was a bit bright for my liking, the designers having gone for a traditional theatre look, or what they might imagine it as anyway, and in my humble opinion they haven’t done a very good job, however, nevermind, you don’t go to a club to look at the walls, you can do that at home, and as long as there’s a somewhere to get down and many repetitive beats I’m going to be happy. Surrounding the main room there is a huge balcony, that, unfortunately was not open when we attended, this was due to the major building work that they had been doing on it to make a whole new room with an all new booming sound system which was due to open the week after, gutted? Not arf. No matter, we still had the downstairs and this was more than enough to send even the most seasoned of all clubbers wild with delight. Great. The dancefloor was massive and one of the darkest I’ve seen in many a moon, the ample use of the smoke machine helped contribute to this and the lights stabbing through the gloom made for one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve experienced, add to this the Northener’s hospitality and you’ve got one of the friendliest clubs around. Nice one. The reason that we chose the week we did to make the journey was because the gatecrasher supremo Scott Bond was due to be gracing the decks, along with another Gatecrasher favourite, Oli Faulkener, a night not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree. When we arrived the resident DJ was playing some progressive house, which I was loving but the others in my group were left wanting somethi
ng with a bit more pace about it, this soon changed at 11 when old Bondy took to the hallowed wheels of steel, he immediately upped the tempo and the crowd reaction was magnificent, they wanted some banging trance and that was whet they were going to get, the music carried on this rather good fashion til 12.30 when Scott had to hand over control of the dancefloor to Oli, who slowed it down gradually, taking it in a more progressive direction without losing any of the crowd along the way. I’ve got to say that it was some of the best music I’ve heard in a club for a very long time, the 2 closing time came all too soon and no-one wanted to leave, so they gave us a cheeky 20 minutes extra which still didn’t satisfy us, but what can you do? After one of the best nights out in a long time we left vowing to return as soon as we could. The music selection at Sugarshack varies from week to week, for example the week after we went it was hard house god Fergie on the decks, and the week after that was master of funk Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero on the subliminal tour. This wide range of DJ’s shows that the promoters are not afraid to experiment with new things and manage to cater for most of the club going public. This may be down to the owner of the Empire being as mad as march hare who is also in the trade of making hats, he’s even running for Mayor of Middlesborough. Crazy. The only bad thing about the constantly changing music style is that you have to find out who’s on for a particular week, you can’t just show up and expect the same trance as you heard the week before, but never mind, it’s not that bad, now, where’s that flyer.. INFORMATION: It’s a tenner to get in but this can rise to £15 for the big names, which you’ll need tickets for, these can be purchased from ticket master of course. The dress code is pretty smart so don’t go along in your best gym shoes cos you
won’t get in, and leave your jeans at home as well, it’s a club, make an effort. The opening times are 9-2, but these are sometimes extended for specials. If you live in the Middlesborough area you can catch a live broadcast from the club every Friday on tfm 96.6. The club is situated in Middlesborough town centre and a map is available on the web site, which we didn’t find very helpful at all but if we found it you should be able to. If you want any more info then the website is www.theempire.co.uk, so what you waiting for? It’s Friday soon.