30. World Headquarters takes off
The first tune ever played in World HQ was Galaxy by War…
‘Take me to your crazy space – I’m sick & tired of the rat race’.
It’s a really far-out groove & kinda summed our attitude up 1oo%.
We were used to working in & running the Trent, but this was different. We’d finally made it from the days of crazy beach parties, to the promised land of legitimate actual nightclub ownership.
For the very first time, we really did have total control of every single aspect of a Nightclub, from the door security, to the tunes & knew we’d the knowledge to make it all work.
It felt great, so we knuckled on down & never looked back. We were now ready to offer Newcastle night life a proper lasting musical alternative, to the homogeneous desert it had been for us, when we were growing up as kids.
It isn’t really possible to describe how good it felt to be in control of our own destinies at last.
No more ‘turn it down’, no more ‘finish on the dot’, no more ‘bloody violence’ & no more shit doormen!
Possibly due to our underground party background, it seems the cops had a hard on for us from the off & the opening night they sent the Police Special Patrol Group down with riot shields etc. to raid / visit the Club.
We don’t know if they thought it would be full of gangsters, or if they just wanted to give us a retrospective slap for the Beach Party days, but it was well comical…
Twenty or so riot clad officers, carrying batons & shields, bursting into a tiny little Club with just 36 people in it, all close friends, happily dancing around to ‘Harvest for the World, by the Isley Brothers…
Now was that meant to be a potential raid, or was it just a friendly visit..? Either way it was like something out of a Carry On film.
They obviously had no idea what this all meant to us & just how good & different (to everywhere else they had to police at the time) we aimed to make it. We always wanted to be the coolest, the safest & the best.
It was initially only on one floor, upstairs, capacity 180, as that was all we had the money to open. After that first night when 36 people came, they went & told their friends & it began to grow…
Just like that & we were off. We remember being overjoyed two weeks later, when 136 people turned up.
A week later it reached capacity & it pretty much stayed that way, right up until the day it was flattened a decade later.
Within 18 months we had quit Rockshots & stopped working at all other Clubs too for a while, to focus solely on WHQ. We kept the Trent though, but that was almost running itself by then.
It was so, so good to finally have our own place & we just knew this was the start for something really great for our entire crew.
As time went by we were inspired, saved up our pennies & in 1997 we spent them all on opening up the ground floor of WHQ, converting the old Afrika restaurant floor into more really nice Club space.
World HQ originally only held 180 people upstairs, but now we had converted the downstairs to ‘The Muhammad Ali Cafe,’ we got the capacity up to 280.
Just as we did that, as if by magic – the Ali movie ‘When We Were Kings’ came out & we were smack on point…
We rocked that Club for ten glorious years & kept quality black music alive in Newcastle.
Now for the first time, we were able to financially support things outside of music, that we felt were good for the City.
So we sponsored the visit of the Anne Frank exhibition & also traveled abroad at the Council’s invitation, representing Newcastle at an International Conference (see History page 33).
It was around this time we first coined the phrase ‘Racially Harmonic’ in our publicity for the Club & we had never been so focused.
We also started to hire out midweek to other people & to learn how to work with new promoters & use our experience to help realise the type of events they were into.
This led to us hosting nights like Curves, Moonbase & Triky Disco, giving loads of young, new promoters that first foot in the door, that we’d had to fight so hard for, back in the day.
The Old Club was such a special place & in the 10 years we were there, we really did up the level of diversity that was available in the City.
It was an exciting time as genres like Drum & Bass first appeared & Funk & Soul shone brightly.
Everyone reading this who ever went there is smiling now… It really was like one great big, never ending, beautiful dream. It was pure nuts.
We had a really cool, diverse, international, crowd & we stuck to our guns & kept all the roughnecks out.
Many important racial, political & social landmarks went down during the time we spent there…
The Anti Apartheid movement in South Africa gained pace & we supported it through the music we championed.
Nelson Mandela was finally freed after all those long years & on the night of the first free South African election, we celebrated big time. Really happy days.
Frau Thatcher was booted out by her own traitors & Labour came to power. How we danced..!
There were really sad times too, like the tragic death of young Stephen Lawrence.
When that happened, in the shocking aftermath we made certain, that we always had copies of the Macpherson report behind the bar to share with anyone who wished to read it.
The Police were totally called out & from that point on, everyone, not just us, realised how racist they were (as standard) to Black people & their families.
The good times far outweighed the bad though & we made the best of them both. We played for 8 hours at the amazing Millennium party too, so this was both an era defining time & an era defining little Club.
Everyone shared in it & artists like Jamiroquai & Moby would pop in when they were in town. It was the most amazing musical scene & tremendous little, far reaching Club.
Powershow by Fela Kuti, was just one, of the many big, uplifting anthems we rocked with down there (& still rock today) & we all shared in that little house…