Tequila is back – but does anyone care?

The real question here isn’t whether Tequila should have been allowed to reopen – it’s whether anyone should care, argues Bobby Palmer.


Despite its best intentions, ‘Qualite’ seems to have nothing more than seven letters in common with the old Tequila.

With a new name, new management and a new venue, it makes one wonder what link, if any, it has to the fallen colossus of Leeds nightlife.

 Although the night had built itself a legendary status since opening in 1993, it looked like the end for Tequila last October when it was embroiled in a scandal over a now infamous online video, in which students joked about rape during a night called ‘FRESHERS VIOLATION’. A campaign to close the night ensued, with over 100 students turning up to protest. Following a damning police report, Mezz was forced to close and Tequila was left out in the cold.

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 That is, until now – The Faversham announced it will be adopting the night under its new name. Whilst this is not the first time that Tequila has tried to reopen in a new venue, the brand was met with considerably less success during their eventually non-existent tenure at Halo last December. It may seem like a slight rebranding has saved them, but Qualite’s problems are far from over.

Regardless of what Matt Winterbottom, Managing Director of Voodoo Events, says about “The old crowd from Tequila” being “Decent and well-behaved”, the fact of the matter is that Qualite is never going to escape its association with Tequila’s mistakes. Councillor Neil Walshaw has already openly voiced his disappointment, and has promised that he and his colleagues will be watching Qualite and The Faversham very closely, saying that they “will not tolerate the use of rape culture or other misogynistic materials in any way.”

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Those who enjoyed Tequila in its heyday did so for its rebelliousness and lack of conformity, and the night had many staunch supporters even in the face of the rape joke scandal which eventually led to its closure. The night’s reopening is clearly aimed at these die-hard fans, and it is this strategy which could prove to be their undoing.

Tequila’s core value always seemed to be its refusal to toe the line, yet Qualite is more like a child that has been grounded by disapproving parents. Even the initial advertising, censored black-and-white models with their hands over their mouths, is nothing more than a watered-down version of their previous controversial advertising campaigns (one of which ended with the night’s Newcastle counterpart being axed).

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What punters are left with is a squeaky-clean, PC version of Tequila which is well aware that one foot out of line will result in closure; a far-cry from the free-pouring den of debauchery that die-hard fans used to know and love. Although the night is sure to attract a huge crowd, one can’t help but think that the masses may be a little disappointed.

After all, with so little in common with their old incarnation, it makes one wonder why they even bothered to return – although, if the events of last year proved anything, Tequila is not one to easily admit defeat.