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Club profile: Arch 9

Sheffield's latest house music hotspot

2016 Jan 23     
2 Bit Thugs

The former home of Gatecrasher is now packing in house fanatics young and old on a weekly basis

"There's nothing new under the sun," goes the old saying, and nowhere is that more true than in clubland, where this year's hot new joint is often simply ten years ago's hot new joint with a lick of paint and a new smoking area.

Such isn't quite the case when it comes to Arch 9 in Sheffield: the venue's been expanded and had a head-to-toe refit. But it does, nevertheless, occupy the space once known as The Arches, a Sheffield night-life institution that over the years has hosted everything from rock concerts and student nights to, in the late 90s, a new club night you might have heard of called Gatecrasher. In recent years the venue's been out of action, bar the occasional underground rave of dubious legality, but now it's back on the map thanks to Nick Hussey and business partner Spencer Fearn.

Nick has a long pedigree in house music. He first emerged on the scene in mid-90s Manchester during the glam/handbag era, plying his trade as a DJ at clubs like Holy City Zoo, Paradise Factory and Home, and remixing everyone from Awesome 3 and FPI Project to Jodeci and Living Joy. Since then he's continued to DJ all over the world, set up a production tutorials website and run clubs in Marbella and Dubai, as well as mastering and engineering for other people. He's also ghost-produced tracks for countless (ahem) 'rising stars', though diplomatically he's keeping his mouth shut as to who those rising stars might have been!

Most recently, he and Spencer started up a night called History at a former steelworks in Sheffield, putting on the likes of Todd Terry, Graeme Park, David Morales and Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez - which is where the idea for Arch 9 was born. "With History, it was great fun, we were getting crowds of 5,000 and a great atmosphere, but it was a lot of hard work for very little money, because the venue ran the bar and all we got was the door. We realised that, to make this work, we needed the bar and the door, and that meant our own venue. So we took out a ten-year lease on The Arches and completely refitted it."

The club's third arch has now been brought into play, and an upstairs bar/lounge/seating area added. "Being a DJ for so many years, and starting with a blank canvas, you can build it from a DJ's and clubber's perspective, rather than a brewery's," says Nick. Accordingly, the 550-capacity club now has a Funktion One soundsystem and a DJ booth kitted out with four linked Pioneer Nexus CD decks, a DJM-900 Nexus mixer, two 15-inch monitors for those playing off laptops and an 18-inch bassbin in the booth "which really makes a difference when you're DJing", and backed by a huge video wall.

The club opened in September, but the first few months didn't go too smoothly. Clean Bandit were due to play the opening, but cancelled due to illness; the following week was meant to play host to Steve Lawler's Viva Warriors, but the venue flooded. And when Arch 9 finally did open, a month later with Todd Terry, thieves broke in overnight and stole £10K's worth of booze. Yet Nick and Spencer persevered...

"By then we were in too deep not to!" laughs Nick now. "But also, we were getting such good feedback from the DJs. One of our very first nights, we had D.Ramirez, Detlef and Ricky Simmonds from Ministry Of Sound, and there were about 40 people there. But they all said they loved it anyway, and Dean was really supportive, he was like, 'Don't worry, once people see this club they'll love it, these are just teething problems.' And luckily it's gone that way."

Saturdays at Arch 9 feature two in-house promotions: the aforesaid History and, more regularly, Syncro, which focuses on more current DJs ("this week coming we've got Yousef and Cristoph, for instance"), while Fridays are available for guest promoters. Judge Jules's Judgement Tour rolls by in April and a long-running, well-respected northern club night will also be visiting soon, though Nick's sworn us to secrecy on that one. "We tried to do Fridays and Saturdays at first, but you end up just competing against yourself. So now we concentrate on Saturdays. Going forward we might do a student night on Thursdays, but we want to get the weekends locked down first".

And speaking of students, one thing Nick's happy about is the broad demographic the club attracts. "We get a real mix of ages," he says, "especially with house being so popular again. We get plenty of 18-25s, like any club, but there are also lots of people who stopped going out years ago, they got married, had kids, forged careers... and now the kids are growing up, they've got a bit more disposable income and they've found they can go clubbing again. Arch 9 suits them, because upstairs you've got booths, you can sit and talk and chill for a while, and then downstairs you've got this big warehouse where you can properly go for it. That's what I always felt was missing with something like Warehouse Project: there's nowhere to sit and rest for a bit, which can alienate an older crowd.

"I think with the UK house scene, we're at the stage now where it's almost like New York or Chicago in the 90s. Back then, if you went somewhere like Shelter you had the mix of veteran disco heads and young ravers, whereas here in the UK it was more segregated. But now, at Arch 9 and I'm sure there are others, you've got a mix of today's young house kids and the original late 80s/early 90s ravers all in one place. And I think it makes for a much better experience: everyone's talking to each other, the atmosphere's great and we haven't had a single 'incident' yet, which is brilliant. It's almost like the older ones showing the youngsters how to do clubbing properly!"

Upcoming events:

6 Feb: Dale Howard, SEFF, Pete Dorling, Neil Parkes

27 Feb: History with Graeme Park, Allister Whitehead, Nick Hussey, Booty

5 March: Purple Disco Machine, Anton Powers, Luke Solomon

12 March: Format B, Drew Moreland, Nick Hussey, Grant Lee, Mirko Di Florio

19 March: Made In Sheffield

26 March: Stonebridge, Jon Pleased Wimmin, Rob Tissera

2 April: Riva Starr, Dub Rocca, Leon Lour

30 April: Judgement Tour – Judge Jules

Look out, too, for the Syncro record label, coming soon!

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Arch 9 pic: Ashley Karrell / Clubaholic





Tags: Arch 9, Sheffield, The Arches, Gatecrasher, Nick Hussey, Todd Terry, D. Ramirez, History, Syncro