Church Leeds – Gone but not forgotten

There was a strange mood on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds over the Late May Bank Holiday weekend.

A strange mix of elation and sadness, the city said it’s goodbyes to Church; the hugely popular nightclub housed inside a, well, you guessed it, a church.

The history of Church

Church was the brainchild of nightclub and music supremo’s Dave Beer (Back to Basics), Aaron Mellor (Tokyo Industries) and Peter Hook (New Order).

The church had previously been home to another club, Halo, which was known as a student hangout, complete with ‘sticky carpets and alcopops’. When the trio created Church, their aim was to tear up the blueprint of nightclubs and take club nights back to their underground routes.

Church opened in 2016 and has been a popular staple of Leeds nightlife ever since.

Why has Church closed?

The official reason for the closure was that the ‘university {Leeds University} are taking back the lease’. Why they’ve made that decision is unclear at this stage.

For those who don’t know the geography of the area, the church is located right next to the university, on a key road taking people in and out of the city centre. From both a strategic and financial point of view, the building will have considerable value.

There are some suggestions in the media that the university is unhappy at the level of anti-social behaviour at the church on weekends, but that appears to be hearsay. The Church attracts no more anti-social behaviour than any other major venue in the city.

Out with a bang

Church wasn’t going out without a party, and what a party it was.

Featuring sets from Octane One, Kelly Lee Owens, DJ Seinfeld and the queen of techno herself, Nin Kraviz, the weekend was one of Church’s best, and the fans who flocked through the doors surely went home wishing the venue wasn’t closing.

Luckily for fans of Church’s Back to Basics nights, there are plans to move to another venue at some stage.

Leasing and licensing

Funnily enough, this isn’t the only example we’ve seen recently of landholders withdrawing leases, or in some situations, raising rent so much that they may as well withdraw the lease.

For now, we thought it’d be an ideal time to talk about the NTIA and other similar local and national trade bodies.

As we see more and more lease holders pressured out of venues, now is the ideal time to stop trying to fight through alone and instead, join together with the wider community.

Organisations like the NTIA were created to help venues fight against unfair pressures. NDML work alongside the NTIA, BARBIE Bristol and Best Bar None because we share the goal of ensuring venues survive and thrive.

If you want to join the NTIA, or share ideas with other venues in the industry, you can head to one of their social events.

For now, let’s be positive about the impact that venues like Church have had on the industry.