History & Culture

WHQ & Curtis Mayfield House open March 2003

The day has finally come

After all the struggles, we finally opened WHQ in Curtis Mayfield House on March 11th 2003. The first record played in the new World HQ was 'Here Comes the Sun' by Nina Simone.

Like Bees

We were buzzing, all of us, the whole WHQ crew. We knew for sure that the struggle to get here was (more or less) over & happy days lay ahead.

We were all super tight & bang down for bringing music, love & liberation to the city by the bucketload.

After hours on opening night, Mart was leading the Sisters & they were properly doing it for themselves.

The Right Direction

When we first opened, the idea had always been to call the downstairs room The Right Direction after Clara Ward's Northern Soul classic.

It has one of the best Soul lyrics of any record we own, real positivity preaching, a proper blueprint for life. So at first, we just kinda thought it might be nice to be perceived as two venues, with WHQ upstairs.

That naming idea didn't bite though, as we were just so rammed from day one & it was all about WHQ. So the separate name for downstairs never took off with people & we didn't hammer it home as we were just too busy to.

The only remaining reference to it in the Club.

The only references to the Right Direction name idea that remain today, are on the massive picture we still have up (above) in the downstairs Club & in the old flyer artwork below - so there's a little snippet of top trivia for ya.

A Nod to Our Musical Roots

Here's another trivia snippet...

We were in such a rush to get everything ready to open, we left the box office mural until the last minute. As we didn't have the long term plan for it (which you can see on the 'Design of WHQ' page) fully cooked yet, we banged out a nod to the Club's roots in the city's Gay scene as temporary fix, so we wouldn't have a bare wall in the box office.

Box office mural on opening night.

Wasn't long before the planned idea went up & covered it, but it felt nice to acknowledge our musical roots in this way for opening night. Really glad we found this snap as we only vaguely recalled doing that.

That's best thing about going so deep with this site, all the old photos come out, the memories flood right back & now they are here to stay.

City Centre Action Plan

At the time, the City Council were always banging on about their 'City Centre Action Plan,' so we sampled the phrase, to add novelty to our flyer & had it as our own.

Cheeky? tick. Effective..? tick, tick. Funny..? Yup, canny hilarious at the time.

Here is front & back of the first A6 flyer we did, which we released the day after opening night...

Front - We spent hours on the map face, it looks simple, but it takes ages to make something look this cute. A bomb for the Trent & a heart for the Club - skills.
Back - Had almost forgotten we used to use 'Goose pimples are our business' as a catchphrase - what a flippin' killer line..!

Next up is the opening night ticket. It had a picture of one of the first big images we ever put up in the new Club on it, of a beautiful Orangutan. You better believe it, the whole town wanted one of these little beauties...

Opening night invite, reading 'This ticket admits you & a friend to the first night of the new World Headquarters @ Curtis Mayfield House, Carliol Square. Tuesday 11th March 2003. Doors 10pm. We are your pals & this is your club.'
Front of the ticket to the opening night

We had a fabulous opening night, all our chums who went to the Old Club came & everyone loved it. We were all so happy & so proud. Within days the Toon went ballistic for the new Club, as word of mouth began to spread - We had done it.

Back of the opening night invite with the lyrics to Ain't No Stoppin Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead
Back of the ticket to opening night - Name that tune...!

The Media Gets a Blank

We didn’t invite any media bods along & didn’t do any media or advertising at all on the opening.

We declined interviews in the local press etc as we wanted to keep it on the Old Skool vibe – friends & friends of friends.

You're My Lobster graphic
Phoebe style.

So it was just like when we opened the Old Club in 1993, still with the same core values.

Only now it was ten years since the Old Club first opened & WHQ had now reached more people. That meant more friends & we were now a way bigger & more influential musical culture, than in the early days.

The very First Poster for the New Club

On a separate note, as we were updating the site we just clocked the hilarious inclusion of the phrase ‘Bomb Toilets’ as a sales pitch on the poster above…

Ha ha! Kinda tells you just how far we’d come..!

The rank upstairs & downstairs toilets back at the Old Club. The only thing 'bomb' about them, had been the fact they could have done with one dropping on them.

Still Hustling

Even with all the earlier Ape hustle, we were still 'hand to mouth' & owed the builders a massive amount of money on completion...

& plenty of them.

Luckily, now they had worked with us & knew us, so they were cool to wait a while. They knew we were good for it & we gave them the (very sizable) balance over the next few months after we were open.

This was a really exciting time for everyone on our scene & gave us all a massive lift.

We had made it to the new place by the skin of our teeth & had big plans.

It was time to get settled in...

'Three Little Birds' text with three birds coloured red, gold and green
Just like Bob said innit..?

Starting to settle in

At last we could branch out, work with organisations we wanted to support, up our visual game & have a really nicely laid out place to properly let things loose.

Ideas were coming out of our ears & we were buzzing..!

Lightbulb figure putting a plug in a socket
A Classic, visual depiction of the WHQ, 'do it yourself' way

We’d reflected our love of all things natural in previous publicity, but now we had a lot of wall space, we decided to get it up in lights…

This was our chance, to move many of the ideas we had only dreamed of into reality & large pictures of endangered, beautiful animals were the very first thing we displayed.

Poster of a leopard sitting in a tree
The original Leopard from downstairs bar...

It is always the right thing to do, to bring attention to & raise awareness about animal welfare & endangerment. We care, so we thought why not..? Soon we had some lovely images blown up massive & up on the walls. 

These are animals our Club has become synonymous with over time.

The original Orangutan image, which we blew up massive, hung downstairs & also used for our opening night ticket.

It took months for the actual gravity of the struggle we'd just been in to hit us, but by that point we were open, rammed every night & had the builders paid off.

Our 'Exodus' was complete & it was time to hear this iconic tune once again, in a new & different light...

You know what that sounds like..?

Justice x.

Curtis Mayfield House was finally open, we launched our website & it was all systems go for WHQ's racially harmonic groove..!!

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.