28. The Comic Deal for World Headquarters
The Hobos Hustle
We were now totally convinced, from all our crazy experiences, that with total control of every aspect of a Club, including door security, we could make it work.
It was time to raise the game…
At the Trent & in all our many Club nights, we had a great reputation for delivering the crowds & paying all our bills on time.
We were well known by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries as good operators who knew their niches & played a straight game.
On the basis of this, we now opened negotiations with first Scottish & Newcastle & then all the local breweries, to see if one of them would front us the money we needed to buy our own Nightclub.
We wanted to create a Club that was totally run by us. One that people could genuinely believe in, feel part of & never feel let down by.
Not one with a regional perspective – but a global one.
We looked around for potential sites & settled on a place called ‘Hobos Club’ (now demolished) on Bath Lane. We also pitched Chris from Viz Comic, as the comics insane success meant he now had a few quid.
Chris offered to invest £30K & on the back of that offer we went back to all the big Breweries, to see if we could move things forward & maybe raise more loot from them.
Raising 30k through Chris was a really great head start & it made Scottish & Newcastle Brewery, who we had the Trent lease with prick their ears up.
This was good, though they weren’t at all keen to fund our planned move on Hobos.
An Afrikan Surprise
They had lost a lot of money they’d put into the Afrika Club & it turned out they were just that week, about to foreclose on Afrika & repossess the building.
Out of the blue during the Hobo’s discussions, they offered to sell us Afrika Club…
We were on great terms with all the Brewery guys, they drank in the Trent & they knew all our history, about Edinburgh & all that caper & more importantly, they knew that with Afrika, we had the experience to run it.
They also knew we could deliver the crowds & hoped we could recoup them some of the money they had lost in there, first time around.
Sensing they were desperate for us to take it, we pressed the hustle button, negotiated & got them to front us all the money for the freehold, so we didn’t need to take up the kind offer of investment from Chris Viz.
This was a massive risk for us, as the city’s Clubland doors were still predominantly run in a shady fashion & a great many of them were dominated by drugs & nonsense.
We were taking a big chance & every single penny of money we could hustle to borrow, was tied up by the cash we loaned off S&N to buy Afrika.
We’d never loaned this much loot before & didn’t dwell on it, but we knew if we couldn’t hack it & it all went tits up, we were gonna be homeless…
We weighed it all up, to work out what we needed. We knew we had the self belief, belief in our music & belief in our ideas & principals to do this. Surely by now we also had the experience..?
So sod the risk – We went for it & did the deal, buying the freehold for Club Afrika outright.
A City Bleats…
We knew this was at last our chance, to bring everything we’d worked for all these years together. The previous owners went nuts & tried to oppose our booze licence as they were so irate the rug had been pulled out from under them by the Brewery & they’d been closed down.
Once again, like the Rockshots hustles all those years ago, it seemed overnight to many people in Newcastle, that we had taken somewhere over & pushed other people out.
This time, it was totally different though. The fact it hadn’t actually gone down like that at all, was irrelevant, that was the public perception in certain quarters & once again the grapevine buzzed.
We were still doing Rockshots at the time & to some (really daft, haven’t thought this thing through properly kinda) people, it must have seemed like we were taking over the city.
It didn’t help our look that Shindig was really taking off in Afrika just as it was repossessed, but we couldn’t help that & we couldn’t have stopped that.
The circumstances of the repossession were something we couldn’t control, that was between the Club’s original owners & the Brewery finance department. It had been sanctioned long before we ever walked in their boardroom that afternoon to talk Hobos.
The way we felt was honestly – we knew that this was Newcastle & in Newcastle, people were always gonna bleat on…
Well people could bleat on all they wanted. This had come out of the blue, it was our big break into a scene we could finally control, we had worked our whole lives for this moment & more importantly…
We felt we had earned this opportunity 100%.