Big beats and bigger parties.
Quadrant Park, “The Quad” or “The Quaddie” – however you affectionately denoted the building in Bootle, we’re guessing many of you spent many a night here. Some nights to remember and some nights you can’t remember. Quadrant Park was a nightclub that opened during the late 1980s to the early 1990s and was one of the most important in the UK at the time. During its stint it was known to attract a number of international guest DJs and the main styles of music played were Italo house, rave and acid house and many refer to it as Liverpool’s first super club. It welcomed people from all over the world unified by their love of rave and their defiance to go home. If just for one more song…
The nightclub was located on Derby Road, north of the city of Liverpool, in a converted warehouse. The building was originally an Owen Owen’s warehouse, which was purchased by steel magnate James Spencer in the late 1980s to convert into a nightclub and snooker hall. A “Heritage Market” was opened shortly after to make use of the large unused lower floor space at the rear. Originally opened in the late 1980s as a snooker hall and mainstream nightclub, there was also a market in the downstairs warehouse area, and the upstairs contained a small social club (the Harlequin Suite) which could be hired out for social occasions. After the Sunday market trade had moved to a nearby dock warehouse (Stanley Market), Quadrant Park started holding all night raves in the then-vacant space.
photo by Mark McNulty
Acid house was Britain’s biggest youth revolution since the 60s, and its legacy has changed the country’s cultural landscape forever. A quarter of a century on, its impact can be felt in everything from fashion to film, to interior design. It redefined our notion of a night out. Strangers and soul mates, black and white, straights and gays, north and south, football hooligans and doctors, students and scallies – whatever your background an acid house party was a huge leveller, and that has just as much lasting effect on some as the new music, or drugs.
A loop-hole in a Sefton council licensing law enabled Quadrant Park to be the only legal all-night rave in the UK as the venue did not sell alcohol. Quadrant Park’s main period of activity began in early January 1990 with a capacity of 2,400, Quadrant Park began focusing on house music in early 1990. The club was dubbed “The Quad” and in October 1990 it opened the Pavilion, the first weekly legal all-nighter in Britain. Pavilion was put on in the basement below the main club. Some party goers would travel long distances to get to the venue; from London, Glasgow, Birmingham and even as far away as Aberdeen. Famously known as a city who go out on a Monday and couldn’t care less about the Tuesday morning, it was testament to the stature of party Liverpool can throw.
Near the end of 1990, the club obtained a licence to stay open to six o’clock. That’s right, as most people were sipping coffee just about to start the day, hundreds of people were wide awake (not from Kenco) and apart of the raveolution that swept the UK. The club survived until 31 December 1991, despite considerable and persistent licensing issues and unfavourable media attention in newspapers. Quadrant Park closed voluntarily that night, following an incident of robbery and a stabbing. The building has since been demolished and has been replaced with a waste recycling centre. The club was featured in an exhibition as part of the European Capital of Culture in July 2008 of which Liverpool was the host city.
On New Year’s Eve in 1991 as many were making resolutions, Quadrant Park’s doors closed for good. Acid house had become part of the nation’s psyche and soon became just a distant memory to many. A fuzzy, hazy memory with grainy polaroid pictures and swinging jaws. It has been said that raving is as English as fish ’n’ chips and it’s a sentiment many would agree with. The doors of Quadrant Park’s may not ever open again but their legacy will live on. So this goes to the ravers that now wear a suit to work, the all-nighters that are now mothers and fathers and the revellers of the night that never stopped dancing. We may have ventured down different paths since the good old days, we may not catch up as much as we should but for one moment in time, we were going through this crazy thing called life together. And it was one hell of a ride.