12 months ago, had you asked any weekend warrior, student promoter or world-class DJ on the state of the club scene in the UK you would have been met with pride and optimism. To paraphrase an old Etonian, the nighttime industry in this country was truly world beating, standing as perhaps the last of our indigenous economies that young people could feel truly invested in, and one that contributed roughly £66bn a year to the UK economy.
But more than money, club spaces have provided a unique opportunity for the formation of youth culture in this country for over 30 years. They are spaces that foster hedonistic escapism while nurturing an inclusive politics communicated implicitly through shared experience and explicitly through social activism that has become such a central part of our culture.
Fast-forward to the present day and the community in the UK has been shaken to the core by the pandemic. Decimated by the government’s flat-out refusal to provide support to struggling venues, with now only a very small percentage receiving the support necessary to weather the storm, many of our cherished local spaces are on the verge of collapse, leaving community run initiatives to plug the gaps in many of the major cities.
Rhythm Rug is one such group, hoping to raise some much needed capital to support the scene in Newcastle. Focusing on the city’s best-known venue, World Headquarters, the team have produced a heartfelt mini-doc that highlights the value of the space to the local scene, in the words of club-goers, promoters, DJs and the affable and charismatic owner Tommy Caulker.
The film is a love letter to a space that, in the worlds of resident DJ Slanty “[is] one of the few places in Newcastle where people can come and be educated on an alternative level” and one that provides an important platform for young people in Newcastle to build their own culture.
“We really want to bring people together… if you’re a young person and you want to put a night on but no one will take you seriously, I will take you seriously… I want young people to have somewhere to grow and [World Headquarters] can facilitate that growth.” – Tommy Caulker