OUT ON THE FLOOR: Popklubb | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Our latest feature takes a look at established club nights across the region to get to the bottom of what makes them tick. In this instalment, Lee Fisher talks to Billy from Newcastle-based indie-pop night Popklubb to see what makes the night tick. Special thanks to David Kendrick for providing the photographs, including for our banner image!

1. What’s the music policy?

Originally, we started the club as we wanted somewhere you could go along to dance to our favourite bands, the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Our love of the Glaswegian music scene, bands like Orange Juice, The Pastels and Teenage Fanclub, as well as the 80s independent scene, was very much to the fore. We also had a soft spot for Swedish indie-pop, the latter scene which faded away in subsequent years. We have evolved to play a mix of contemporary and classic indie-pop, girl groups from across the decades, post-punk, and a wee bit of Northern Soul, all of which complement each other in musical style.

2. Where does it happen?

The Retreat at St. Dominics Social Club on Crawhall Road opposite The Tanners Arms, Ouseburn.

3. Is there a manifesto or idea behind the club?

From the beginning, the social aspect of the night was just as important to us as the music policy, hence we chose an old social club with lots of seating and cheap drinks as a venue, rather than a more formal club setting.

We also have a strong, inclusive DIY ethos, putting on our own gigs regularly within the city, designing our own posters, and asking regulars to be guest DJs for the night.

4. Who runs it?

There’s three of us been doing it from the start: Billy, David and Louise, all united in our love of the music, with special mention to another local, DIY promoter, Michael Clunkie, for his invaluable help over recent years.

5. How long has it been running?

Since 2006. We’re now in our ninth year!


We like to think people come to Popklubb to hear music they might not hear anywhere else and are, first and foremost, united in their love of that music

6. Is there an average age range?

No, not really. We attract a healthy cross-section of ages across the board. We like to think people come to Popklubb to hear music they might not hear anywhere else and are, first and foremost, united in their love of that music. Age is irrelevant.

Given the setting, and social emphasis, I don’t think our regulars regard the experience as “clubbing,” as such, so people in their forties are just as comfortable hitting the dancefloor as students, and I think that lack of age-awareness contributes to a relaxing, feel-good atmosphere.

7. Could you describe your average clubgoer?

Warm, musically discerning types who love to socialise and dance.

8. Name the three songs most like to fill the dancefloor?

Over the years Camera Obscura’s Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken and Belle and Sebastian’s Boy With The Arab Strap spring to mind, and people can never hear enough of Pulp’s Babies.

9. And three current favourites?

Alvvays’ Archie, Marry Me is made for the dancefloor. Martha’s 1979, Passing in the Hallway is a great DIY, sugar-rush of a tune from their excellent debut album on Fortuna Pop. Holiday Hymn, one of many brilliant northern-soul inspired tracks from Vic Godard & The Subway Sect’s recently re-recorded “lost” album, 1979 Now! a collection of tunes cited as subsequently highly influential to many of our favourite independent bands, including the mighty Orange Juice, who actually went on to cover this particular track.

10. What’s your favourite moment in the club’s history?

I think getting indie-pop-loving football pundit and ex Everton legend Pat Nevin along to guest DJ the first time round has to rank as our favourite moment. He’s such a down-to-earth, passionate music fan, even to the point of wandering around the club beforehand, asking our regulars what they’d like to hear. Perversely, I think he was traveling to Madrid the following day to do the punditry for the El Classico. Getting Camera Obscura-singer Tracy-Anne Campbell to agree to guest DJ for our fifth birthday was a close second, given the night’s origins.

11. When’s the next one?

Saturday 17th January; it’s a Belle and Sebastian Special.

12In one sentence, tell us why we should come.

You’ll be able to dance to music you’re not likely to hear elsewhere in a warm, sociable atmosphere, and make new friends along the way.

Popklubb indiepop social, Retreat @ St.Dominics, Crawhall Rod (opp The Tanner’s Arms), Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, 8pm-1am, £3.50. For news of our latest events join our pop klubbers group on Facebook.

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