The comic deal for WHQ
The Hobos Hustle
We were now totally convinced, from all our crazy wealth of experience, that with total control of every aspect of a Club, including door security, we could make it work, make it good & make it matter. 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 (& liked) 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 with an expansive, inclusive, 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 comic's 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
S&N 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 dropped a bombshell & offered to sell us the Afrika Club building instead.
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 totally 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 from 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 & their building repossessed.
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 with daft rumours.
We were still doing Rockshots at the time & to some (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 had been really taking off in Afrika just as it was repossessed. They were popular lads, who just like us, were simply trying their best to get their scene going.
But we couldn’t help that & the debts of Afrika were nothing to do with any of the DJs who'd played there, as all any of us (from whichever crew) had ever done was generate the place money.
So the circumstances of the repossession were something we couldn’t control & had no part in. That was totally between the Club’s original owners & the Brewery's finance department. It had been sanctioned long before we ever walked in their boardroom that afternoon, to pitch them for loot to buy Hobos.
But as we had previous 'form' from the original Rockshots takedowns & it was obvious that we must have known in advance it was going down, we got slated by the grapevine anyway.
Ho hum - the way we felt was honestly... We knew that this was Newcastle & in Newcastle back then - people were always gonna bleat on…
Well people could bleat on all they liked. This had come out of the blue, totally unexpectedly & it was our one big chance to finally build a scene we could control.
We had dreamed about & worked our whole lives for this moment. More importantly we felt we had 100% earned this golden opportunity.