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Keep On Reachin’

by John Connolly

 

Can’t get that uber naf floor stomper out of my head. The Quadrant Park reunion night at Croxteth Super Club ‘Isis’ was a massive success. I was skeptical at first when they moved the reunion from the city centre venue to the Isis , which is in the heartland of one of the more colourful areas of the city. Not only is it more colourful, the area is currently experiencing a regeneration programme in the form of a massive turf war. There have been more shootings here in the past 6 months than in the whole city in the past four years. The children of the Croxteth think the police helicopter is a second moon, such is its ubiquitous presence.

 

Being a veteran of the Quadrant Park , I’d come to the conclusion that this venue was ideal! The old Quadrant Park , or the Quad (la), was located in less than salubrious surroundings. This only added to experience, particularly if you were an out of towner. Despite the supposed mood of the time and fantastic atmosphere many revellers brought to the place, getting to the Quad, getting in and then getting out unscathed were no mean feat. I’ll get to that in a moment but you can’t really talk about the Quad without touching on the club scene pre-Quad and mainly the one of cities biggest clubs, the State.

 

A History of Violence

 

A movement that was very much underground and select in early 1988, had blown up over 12 months. Although other clubs had played house, the State was very much at the forefront of the movement and by the summer of 88’ you needed to be there before nine just to stand a chance of getting in. I used to go the State pre house days and the place was a war zone. Going back to 1983 when I was teenage wannabe scall, the State used to hold a 13 to 16’s ‘disco’. The door staff would search you on the way in and you’d see plenty of lads getting knifes confiscated. The atmosphere inside was very hostile. Gangs from all the roughest areas of the city would pitch themselves in their own corners and scowl at each other while the likes of White Lines, Planet Rock and Egyptian Lover blasted out. The mood was ugly outside too, one night a girl in our group had her Benetton rugby shirt covered with spray paint. She retaliated and we ended up getting chased for a mile by a gang of scruffy meffs from Kenny. The kids disco didn’t last long.  

 

Around 86 I started going to the normal club nights. Great music but the layout and ambience mirrored the kids disco. I’d seen Zigue Zigue Sputnik get bottled off there, countless gang fights between Breck Road/Kirkdale, Granby Street/Dingle, Wavertree/Netherley and so on. It never put me off going but I’d swerve the place unless at least five tagged along, preferably with girls in tow. So when those magic little pills turned up on the scene, it caused quite a commotion. No doubt most big cities weren’t any different but I’m sure it was the lack of violence on a Saturday night that first attracted the police’s attention. Pretty soon the State started playing house music exclusively. I used to go Thursday, Friday, Saturday and later in 88’ the Daisy night on Monday. There was no violence, no scowling and although the same gangs stood in the same corners, you could walk around without fear of getting cold cocked or stabbed. Ecstasy was the happy love drug but this didn’t sit well with the police. First of all they made State close its doors on a Saturday at one o’clock, then in November 1989, they shut it down.  

 

As the saying goes, a light that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast. There were still a few places to go in the city but the police hounded them out. The biggest downer about this era was that the yellow E’s around at the time were gang busters. Instead of dancing away to Voodoo Ray in the luxuriant splendour of the State, an old ballroom decked with tile and marble, you’d find yourself in the Pivvy on Lodge Lane (a snooker club in Toxteth), listening to the DJ say ‘security to dance floor please’ over INXS. The party was well and truly over in Liverpool as the police and gangsters squeezed the fun out of our brave new world.  

 

Birth of the Quad

 

January 1990 saw the first dance night in Quadrant Park . The State DJ Mike Knowler was on the wheels of steel but the lack of decent tablets and the fact it was Thursday night made it a damp squib. Not for long though. Knowler and fellow DJ Andy Carroll had a good following from the State and they duly followed to the Quad. The crowd was pretty much all the State, Underground and various other places that that been forced to close in the city so the atmosphere was great.  Unfortunately, the wrong element had muscled its way on to the scene. Inevitably, where there is money involved, there will be that element. The Quad quickly became the playground for ravers but also a hotbed for mutants who weren’t into peace and love.  

 

Though full scale violence was not a feature of Quad, its dark shadow loomed in the wings and particularly near the toilets around club. There were easy pickings for the current crop of sawdust Caesars, they could operate with impunity in the club, so long as they didn’t upset the status quo by fleecing their own with snide E’s, MBS trips that were blotted with fresh air, 3rd rate coke bashed with speed, speed bashed with beechams or formula weed that was sponsored by Pirelli. The rise and rise of Quad was staggering, in scenes befitting an old David Cassidy concert, ravers from far and wide jostled and pushed their way to get in at 9 pm , the place was packed to rafters by 10:30 . The owner obviously knew the ropes and pretty soon an all night annex was opened. If the normal club was a jungle, the all nighter was feeding frenzy of sharks. Stories of rape and random violence were ample but the queue’s to get in didn’t abate. Indeed there was something very unique, strange and all together demented about the all nighter. You’d get hoards of coked up gangsters suited and booted with their molls standing along side sweaty ravers in tracksuits and t-shirts boogying along to Chic’s ‘Chic Cheer’.  

 

The party finished just as it got going for most. The Quad had one Christmas and New Year before the majority twigged that it was full idiots who wanted to rob you rather than hug you. It was good while it lasted and although the scene had been in full swing for nearly three years, the Quad certainly thrust it into the mainstream. Like all short lived phenomenon’s, people probably look back and think it was better than it actually was. Let’s face it, when the E’s are that good, and they were back then, you could have a good time in an empty room with Jim Reeves on.  

 

All Our Yesterdays

 

Anyway, the Quadrant Park reunion was moved to the Crocky Super club and with the club closing at 2:30, we decided to get up there early to soak up the atmosphere. We got into the club around 9:45 and place was bouncing. We got ourselves in a corner and danced the night away to some great tunes. There were no roaming gangs looking to sell you Bob Martins, just shiny happy people looking to sell you smiles. There was more of spirit that I first felt in the State all those years ago, exactly like it should be. There was an unseasonable blizzard when came out, someone had pinched my spec in the pre-booked taxis and I had to jump a special bus to town just to escape the snow drifts. I know the organisers have other nights planned and going on my experiences at this reunion, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, even if you never went the Quad first time around. 

 

 

 
 
   
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