Miss clubbing? Here’s a look at the evolution of Brighton’s nightlife
Bring back the ice rink in PRYZM
It’s been almost a year since the nightlife scene we know and love was cruelly taken from us. Cramming into the photobooth at Patterns or getting stuck to the floor of Volks feels like all but a distant, pre-pandemic memory, and with no certainty over when venues will reopen, the future of Brighton’s clubbing experience feels a little bleak.
So, instead of dwelling on the gloomy present, we decided to look back at the rich history of the city’s favourite clubs, to see how our regular stomping grounds became the ones we love today. We give you, the evolution of Brighton’s clubs.
The Arch has been alive and kicking on King’s Road since the 80’s, but has had a variety of names. Much-loved club The Zap moved permanently to the Kings Road Arches in 1984, marketing itself as a ‘club for artists, run by artists who understand performers and their needs.’. With a national reputation for new and alternative music such as acid house, techno and US garage, and its license to remain open past 2 am, The Zap drew people in from Brighton and beyond. The Wednesday club night Club Shame was described as ‘the blueprint of gay clubbing in the nineties’ and many renowned artists and musicians would perform there over the years until its closure in 2005.
The King’s Road venue then reopened as The Union, but returned to its old branding after just three months, operating as The Zap for another three years until 2008. Afterwards, the club was sold to new owners who renamed it Digital. From 2008 until 2014, Digital was host to a variety of names including Grimes and Chvrches, and in 2013, new club ‘Bermuda Triangle‘ opened in the second room.
2014 saw another rebranding in attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing music scene, becoming Coliseum – described as ‘something for everyone’ and fitted with a brand new interior. However, the new venture didn’t last too long, with The Arch taking over the building in 2015, bringing with it a new sound and lighting system in order to attract big names, just like The Zap had done back in the day.
West Street’s PRYZM originated as Top Rank Suite in 1965 – a chain of venues that sprung up as part of post-war development plans. In its early days it was home to live jazz music, and later went on to host artists such as Joy Division, Culture Club and Annie Lennox. From 1966 to 1971, it also featured a bowling alley and ice rink.
Top Rank Suite was coupled with nearby clubs The New Regent (now Walkabout) and Jenkinsons/Coasters (now a Costa Coffee), which were host to Pink Floyd, The Who and AC/DC in their heyday.
In 1972 the building was rebranded as Kingswest, splitting into multiple bars and a cinema (which would eventually become the Odeon). Moving with the times, it became nightclub The Event in 1990, and The Event II after refurbishment six years later. Before the height of their fame, Take That performed at The Event in 1990.
In 2007, The Event II was replaced by Oceana in a six million pound development, which saw the creation of three separate rooms: The Deep Bar, New York Disco and Reykjavik Icehouse. The three-room experience was carried over when the club became PRYZM in 2011.
Patterns opened in the 1980’s under the title The Escape Club, where it hosted artists including The Stone Roses, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. It became Audio in 2004, where it continued to attract big names such as The Vaccines and Catfish and the Bottlemen until its closure in 2015. Following a 4 million pound investment by Mothership Group, the venue became the Patterns we know and love today.
This beloved venue dates back to the 1860’s when the building housed the White Horse Hotel, before it was sold to become a swimming pool, followed by a cinema. From 1930 to the 1990’s, it traded under the names the Savoy, ABC and the Cannon and Virgin. In the years following, The Haunt opened and became a bustling club and concert venue, hosting major names such as Jorja Smith and Foster the People. The Haunt closed its doors in August 2019, making way for Chalk, which opened in the larger space two doors down, increasing capacity from 350 to 850 people.
Brighton’s club scene has evidently changed a great deal in the past few decades, and these are just a few of the many venues which have come to dominate the city’s nightlife. As we reach almost a full year spent without a boogie on the seafront, and memories of our favourite nightclubs become increasingly hazy, remember that better times are to come.