History & Culture

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…

We were certain we could do it, by holding the same line we'd held for years.

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.

Back in those days, regional Breweries had tonnes of clout. S&N was one of the city's biggest employers & loaned leisure businesses loot to develop - as long as you agreed to sell only their brands of firewater, tipple & grog.

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.

Gotta get all those young Toon minds expanded.

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.

Reading Viz comic
Kid's always been a bit of a looker.

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.

Comic Strip
30K was a somewhat disproportionate amount for simply appearing in a couple of mad comic strips.

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.

Gotta multiply this lot by 50 - then imagine the old tenners.

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.

Friends drinking
Chris, Tommy & Bobby, years later in 2014.

Risky Business

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.

Club Afrika
A Woodland Glade, pictured earlier - it too, appears to be run in a 'shady fashion,' though nowhere near as potentially life threatening.

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…

Homeless person begging
Which would have doubtless, required some fairly major hustle adaptions.

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.

Here we go again.

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.

Nuts and bolts
Nuts, but strangely, not a bolt in sight - even though they had forgotten to put one on the stable door.

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.

Grapes on vine
May look all quiet now... But back then it made one hell of a racket.

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.

Our chums Scott & Scooby - the original, Old-Skool Shindig Crew & pal. Pictured way, way back in those early days.

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…

& bleat they did - some were even hopping mad.

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. 

Justice Statue

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