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Mike Knowler

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Quadrant Park


Mike Knowler first played at Quadrant Park on Thursday 21st December 1989, by which time he had been DJing for more than twenty years! This was to be the Christmas Dance for the students at the Hugh Baird College in Bootle, where Mike was an established Electronics Lecturer. The Student’s Union had asked Mike Knowler to be their DJ as a direct result of his residency at the State Ballroom, but Mike had suggested using Quadrant Park as the venue for the college dance, due to the fact that the State Ballroom was most likely to have closed before Christmas. In fact, the State closed on 11th November 1989 due to pressure from the Police and the licensing authorities
But to backtrack……..

Quadrant Park, known locally simply as The Quad opened its doors back in the mid 1980’s, and was situated at number One, Derby Road in Bootle. The discotheque part of the venture was of typical 1980’s design, and very similar to many other clubs in the area such as Mr Smith’s in Warrington and Angels in Burnley. The music policy was strictly commercial ‘Sharon & Tracy” disco music, and early resident DJ’s included Charlie C and Nikki Dee. At first the club was highly successful, but attendance fell sharply in 1988/89 when other, newer, clubs such as FALLOWS opened up quite close by. The snooker hall was unique, in that it was run as a private members club with a 24 hour entertainment licence. This meant that, not only could members play snooker 24 hours a day, but background music could be played to provide entertainment. The snooker club was very popular because many local (and not so local) snooker fans had to work variable shift patterns.

Mike took up his residency at Quadrant Park on Thursday 11th. January 1990, as a direct result of his appearance at the Hugh Baird College Christmas Dance;
so back in the days when Mancunians were partying their socks off to Mike Pickering and Graeme Park at Manchester’s The Hacienda, in Liverpool a super clubbing phenomenon was being born inside a club in deepest Bootle. But for the first few weeks it was Thursday nights only then, at the beginning of March 1990, Mike Knowler became the resident DJ for all three of the main nights at Quadrant Park: Thursday, Friday & Saturday. At this time, Andy Carroll was brought in to DJ on Monday’s, and also to share Saturday nights at the Quad. In December 1990, when the All Nighters started, DJ’s James Barton & John Kelly joined the team. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Put simply, a loophole seemed to exist in the 24 hour snooker club entertainment licence that allowed it to be switched to create a fully legal all night rave. The Quad club and function rooms (and the snooker hall) were all contained within the front half of a very large warehouse building. The rear half of the ware house was simply open space with a roof over it, and was used at the weekends for car boot sales.
However, once all of the legal hurdles had been cleared the rear half of the warehouse was rebuilt as The Pavilion Nightclub: a fully legal all night rave with a capacity of over 5000 people. The “All Nighter” as the audience called it was strictly members only. It ran for a total of 40 Saturday nights from November 1990 to July 1991. Unfortunately, the Police eventually got the 24 hour licence revoked because they had proof that non members were being admitted.
I imagine that the Police would have been against the venture from the start and will have immediately have been looking for ways to close it down.

Consequently, during August and September of 1991 the original Quad night club peaked with regular attendances of over 2500 people on a Saturday night; probably more than the entertainment licence had actually permitted. This ‘overcrowding’ was obviously a risk taken by the club’s owner and management team for the sake of greed. Moreover, the door charge (tax) went up to £10.00. The State had lost its own licence in November 1989 for precisely the same reason: gross overcrowding. Unfortunately, for the owner of the Quad, two brand new House venues opened up in the Liverpool City centre during September 1991: these were the 051 and the Academy respectively. Two ex-Quad DJs were resident at the 051 (Namely Andy Carroll and James Barton). Moreover, the admission charge at both of these venues was only £5.00. half of what punters were being expected to pay at the Quad. The result was the inevitable vast reduction in attendance at the Quad: and by the end of November 1991 it was clear that the Quad phenomenon was over. Mike Knowler played at the Quad for the final time on Tuesday 24th December 1991 (Christmas Eve). Mike reckons that the attendance could have been no more than three to four hundred people which resulted in the inside of the club being very cold. Mike recalls that, at the end of the night, when he went to get paid, the usual double money at Christmas convention wasn’t adhered to; and Mike received only the money that he would normally get for a Tuesday night. Mike told Mr Spencer that if he wasn’t paid correctly he would never work for him again. Mr Spencer stood his ground, miffed that the evening had gone badly. Mike didn’t get his double time for playing on Christmas Eve, and never crossed the threshold at the Quad again. The dream had faded.

Sadly, in spite of a highly successful New Year’s Eve event the Quad closed its doors at the beginning of January 1992. The House scene had moved elsewhere.



The Official Quadrant Park Reunion

The year was 1990. The City: Liverpool. The hottest club in town was Quadrant Park. Mike Knowler, Andy Carroll, John Kelly and James Barton were the DJs. This is the review of the official Quadrant Park reunion that took place on 11 March 2006 at Club Isis in Liverpool. It is estimated that around 2400 clubbers were in attendance. Quite by chance, Club Isis is an almost identical venue to the original Quad in terms of size, design and layout, having been designed by the same team of designers. And for the 2000 plus Quad dedicatees who attended it was like a journey back in time. Large-scale video screens projected video footage and still images that were taken at the time when the Quad was in its heyday. Air horns and glow sticks were clearly in evidence. And the sound system pumped out the classic House Anthems that had made Quadrant Park the number one club in the country!

Back in the days when Mancunians were partying their socks off to Mike Pickering and Graeme Park at Manchester's The Hacienda, here in Liverpool a superclubbing phenomenon was being born inside a club in deepest Bootle. This club, known locally as "The Quad", opened its door in 1986, and included an all-night member’s only snooker club. The original music policy had been 'strictly commercial' "Sharon and Tracy dance round your handbags disco music" and, naturally, the dress code didn't allow for street fashions such as sportswear, jeans or trainers. However, the life span of such venues is rarely more than 3 years, and by late 1989 the Quad was 'tired and exhausted''. But then, everything changed on Thursday 21 December 1989, when Mike Knowler introduced House Music to the Quad as part of the Christmas Dance he was DJing for the local Hugh Baird College. As a result of this student night, Mike Knowler was offered a Thursday night residency to play House Music and Techno at the Quad. Within months the club was transformed into the Northwest's major Rave Venue. But it wasn't until November 1990 when owner Jim Spencer opened the Pavilion Warehouse at the rear of the club, to create the UK's first legal all-night Raves, that the Quad began its journey into notoriety. By a clever legal wrangle the all-night snooker licence became an all night Rave licence. This made Quadrant Park the UK's first "Super Club", as the All-Nighter had a capacity of 5000.

Over a two year period from January 1990 until January 1992 some of the biggest DJs in House Music would play on 'the wheels of steel' in the Quad: Sasha, Nipper, Laurent Garnier, Mike Pickering John Da Silva, Derrick May, Frankie Bones, Fabio and Grooverider, Steve Proctor and Trevor Fung; as well as residents Mike Knowler, Andy Carroll, John Kelly and James Barton. In addition, live acts such as NJoi, Shades of Rhythm, Kklass, LFO and Katherine E all graced the stage of the all-nighter. The official reunion managed to successfully recreate all of the disparate elements that made the original club and All-Nighter so special. Gary Jay, from Wrexham, played the 'warm up set', from 9:00pm until 10:30pm featuring mostly US import underground House Music. NJoi played a live set at 12:30am. And prior to this DJs Andy Carroll and Mike Knowler 'Rocked the House' with some of the best known Anthems from 1990 and 1991. John Kelly played a fine set from 1:00am until 2:00am. Then for the last thirty minutes Mike, John and Andy took to the 'wheels of steel' together, taking it in turns to play a couple of tunes each. The final record of the night was "All Join Hands" by Ce Ce Rogers followed by Mike Knowler's quirky use of a Frank Zappa concert farewell: "It's been lovely working for you this evening, goodnight boys and girls, goodnight". This brought the house down as it did way back in 1990. The obligatory encore was "You've Got the Love" by the Source featuring Candi Statton. At 3:00am we all left the club to find that there was a blizzard raging, with three inches of snow on the ground, and no Taxi's to be had!




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