16. Club Afrika opens 1989
Somewhere new to play
Club Afrika opened in the Autumn of 1989.
The first record played here was played by us & it was Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’.
We did the music there from the very start. We were just back from Scotland & it was great to finally have weekend Club nights to play, where you weren’t in a realistic, mortal danger, of being stamped to (near) death, disembowelled & then hung.
Afrika was really small, had a really terrible layout for a Club space & was initially intended to be a Club catering for the city’s African community, with an African restaurant on the ground floor.
It was on the same site as the old WHQ eventually came to be, on Marlborough Crescent. This was years & years before the area of Times Square as you know it now, existed.
There was no development there, no Centre for Life or any of that.
This is back when it was a really run down area, on the edge of the Gay scene & its highlight was a derelict bus station & not much else.
As the the rest of the city was now headed smack on course for the impending early 90’s House music & drug frenzy, Afrika was a nice counterpoint to all that & was an immediate success.
The insane layout meets the uplifting groove
This was despite that fact it was a hard place to work due to to rubbish layout. It was on the first floor & the bar was stuck over in a corner, at the edge of the room.
The Dj booth & dance floor were at the top of the entrance stairs, so once you got the crowd rocking, no one could get to the bar.
It wasn’t the best plan for a Club & is the only Club layout we have ever worked in, that had no features we could integrate, into the eventual design of the World HQ you know today.
Everywhere else we ever worked has had design ideas we could work in there – not Afrika.
It had crazy 70’s style flashing disco lights too, that whirred, buzzed & creaked to absolute buggery if you ever tried to turn them on – so you never did.
Playing here gave us a chance to turn away from the madness, of that rapidly emerging House scene for a moment. We used that chance to spin Old Skool Black music again, this time with weekend slots. At first the crowd was very nice & mixed.
We played the Friday & Saturdays for a long while & it was really, really good.
Some of the Housey crowd from Rockers followed us down, but mainly it was a Soulful, Funky, Disco & Afro groove that we represented there.