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What the 100 Club means to me.
In terms of the Northern Soul scene, the 100 Club is now the longest running allnighter, and is fast approaching it's 21st Birthday. It started before the end of Wigan Casino, but after I actually left the Northern scene for my break. So the allnighters had been running for over ten years when I actually attended my first one in 1991. Obviously Ady DJed, and I know Ian Clarke did as well, but for the life of me I can't remember any of the others.
Having said that, you can probably count on one hand the number of 100 Club allnighters that I have missed since then. I established myself in the corridor by the office, and every month you will find me set up selling tapes, magazines and records in the same place.
So why travel all the way down to London for an allnighter ? Simple really, the 100 Club is the premier allnighter in the country (hence the premier allnighter in the world !).
Initially growing out of the Rhythm and Soul nights that Ady ran with Randy Cozens in London, the sounds soon changed towards a more 'Northern' style, and then during the Stafford Top Of the World era, the 100 Club started to establish itself as a 'Newies venue'. Subsequent to the end of Stafford the 100 Club has been the only continuous Newies venue to date.
When I returned to the scene after a ten year break, I originally wanted to hear the familiar sounds that I knew, that soon changed, and I found myself looking for and listening to Stafford things, and the current new discoveries. That's why I still go down to the 100 Club. The regular DJ team of Ady, Butch, Mick Smith and Shifty, can, and do satisfy my desire for new sounds. Between them they can play virtually any rarity that you could care to name, they have also discovered so many big sounds between them that the list would be endless.
Add to that the addition of a guest each month, and the guest can be anyone who plays quality Soul music, and the musical direction is the business. Some months can be better than others, and occasionally you get a guest who totally mis-reads the night, and blows it big style.
Having DJ'ed there several times, I can understand the pressure that guests find themselves in. You are competing with the best DJs in the country and you want to make a good impression.........sometimes they play too safe, and other times they play total rubbish as an attempt to make an impression. The first time I DJed at the 100 Club I was paired up with my old mate Wilko, we did a spot together and then a separate one each, I can remember being more nervous before that first spot than I have ever been before when starting a spot, that's the pressure of being a 100 Club DJ.
I must have done ok because Ady has booked me on a regular basis since, and has even on occasion, rung me up on a Saturday morning and asked me to cover one of the regulars who can't make it. I've noticed on the last couple of occasions that he has also given me the hardest DJ spots as well. Let me explain, each DJ does two 45 minute spots, and the guest is usually slotted in for their first spot half way through the rota. The last couple of times I've DJed there I've been put on last on the rota. That means I'm following Ady Croasdell, Butch, Mick Smith, and Shifty. Not an easy prospect for someone who is supposed to be a guest ! Mind you the last time I DJed there Ady had lost the mains lead for the decks, and ended up borrowing the 100 Club's Kettle lead, so you can just imagine how close the decks were to the back wall ! You had to actually step over the lead to cue records up on the right hand deck.
The venue itself can be viewed two ways. You can view it as a small pokey underground club, with a crap dancefloor and dodgy toilets, or you can view it as a small pokey underground club with a special atmosphere created by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. I know which I prefer.
Which brings me neatly onto the people who attend, in some ways the most important people of all. The crowd at the 100 Club are far more mixed than at any other allnighter. There are regulars at the 100 who I never see anywhere else, there are Mods, young and old who faithfully attend every month, and then there are the travellers from the North, mostly 'battle scarred veterans' who will travel anywhere for good music. Whilst the 100 Club can be viewed as very insular and cliquey that soon changes once you get to know a few people, and I probably speak to more people at the 100 Club on a regular basis than I do most other allnighters.
One final word about Ady Croasdell, he's one of the nicest, most genuine people I know, he's also one of the most disorganised people I know. God knows how he's managed to run allnighters for 21 years, but he has, and many people including myself are very grateful !
So that's it really, the 100 Club is the business, say no more Guvner !