Clubs: One-night stands: Promoters don't always make a killing. Mark Timmis hears the agony and the ecstasy behind the UK's wildest nights out

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Until the early Eighties nightclubs were thought of as Travolta-style discotheques run by greedy old men on the make for easy tourist money.

This was all to change in the early Eighties with the concept of one- nighters and outside promoters. Sean McClusky, undisputed King of Clubland, explains the role of promoters. 'I design the overall direction of the night - the style of music, the DJs, the theme, additional decor and the crowd. The club owner is left with the bar and usually security.' The split of door and bar takings are open to negotiation, and few directly involved are willing to talk about the specific details.

So why have these promoters been so successful? McClusky again: 'I put the full force of my vitality and creativity into building a night. The paintings, statues, gyroscopes and brain machines are a physical manifestation of my vision.' He says this without a trace of irony.

Nikki Holloway organised this summer's Dance Europe weekender. 'We took everyone on day trips to EuroDisney. How much more fun can you provide?' Imagination and ambition appear to be key ingredients in successful promoting. And you've got to be ready to take a financial fall. 'I've done parties that made pounds 30,000, but I've done some that have lost pounds 40,000. I'm comfortable, but no more than that.'

The Who's Who of promoting reads like a list of Britain's Prime Ministers. Only one woman ranks high, but she is a giant. Shelly Boswell, creator of positivity, happy vibes and general goodwill has been promoting at the Gardening Club since 1988. 'Club for Life is about being into the same vibe, the same buzz, getting off on the same thing. It's about creativity and procreation.' So what is her secret for success? Boswell maintains that the doorman who can identify clubbers with positive vibes is worth his weight in gold. Unfortunately her first doorman, who is trained in the ancient art of eye reading, has left for Tibet where he is recharging his psychic batteries under the auspices of his guru.

Charlie Chester, a founding member of the Perks of Living Society, agrees. Ali Jobe, his doorman, is all important. 'He's a mate with the crowd and he builds good rapport.' Anyone who has been hassled by aggressive bouncers will testify on Chester's behalf.

Last summer was a disaster for the majority of large-scale raves. The consensus of opinion is that the high prices of these events, together with a stagnation in the all-important creativity process and continual interference by the authorities, have combined to all but kill off such events.

So where does it go from here? Bob Dog, a key figure behind the seminal Club Dog and Mega Dog, believes that 'nights will move back indoors, back into the club environment. There will be a crossover between gig goers and club goers. Live bands will become an essential element of a night out.' To a certain extent this is already happening. Nights such as Narrenschiff at the Electric Ballroom include five-minute theatre, poetry, dance, interactive art, 3-D light shows and underground funk and hip hop. Club Dog itself has always featured live bands. Plus ca change. . .


Labrynth at Bagley's Film Studios. Monthly foray to this authentic warehouse venue. Added attractions include a firework display, fire-eating, -breathing and -jugglers and a huge line-up of hardcore DJs. 6 Nov 9pm-6am, York Way, Kings Cross, London (081-524 7347)

Club for Life at Gardening Club. This month's theme is Animal Farm. Expect the usual way-out decor, giant papier mache sperm, pig stys for DJ booths and solid, vibrant tunes. Life force and positivity are the ingredients. 6 Nov 11pm-6am. 4 Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2


Southport Dance Music Weekender at Pontins Holiday Centre. A notch weekend away. Facilities include all the usual holiday camp extras with legal 24-hour radio and TV stations. 5-7 Nov (091-389 0317)

Club Megadog at Manchester Academy. Mad, interactive, live dance event featuring many surprises. One of the biggest, user-friendly psychedelic nights out featuring decor by the Micro Dogs of Heaven. 6 Nov 8pm-2am

Dreaming a Dream at Wigan Pier. The third anniversary with E-Lustrious on stage. 5 Nov 9pm-2am


Amnesia House at The Edge. Subtitled 'The History of Amnesia House', you can expect a retro glance over the harder edge of dance music from the likes of Fabio and Grooverider with a selection of MCs and others in the Lower Arena. BPMs are guaranteed to hit the thousands. 6 Nov 9pm-8am, Lower Ford Street, Coventry

Chuff Chuff presents Miss Moneypennys at Bonds. Interviewed in More] about their genitalia, the Chuff Chuffs are not a shy bunch. Could this explain their popularity? 6 Nov, Hampton St, Hockley, Birmingham (021-236 5503)

Raindance at Denby Leisure Centre. First in a series of all-nighters with two rooms of hardcore and garage. Essential energy environment with a bar selling psychoactive drinks, a brain machine and an ambient atmosphere. 5 Nov 10pm-7am, Bletchley, Milton Keynes


Storm Reunion at The Pier. Carl Cox and Seduction with fruit stalls, arcades, deck chairs and donkeys. 5 Nov 10pm-6am, Sea Front, Hastings, East Sussex


Pure Special at The Barrowlands. If you find the Psychick Warriors ov Gaia or Ege Bam Yasi confusing, the Sonic Womb is where you should head. 6 Nov 7pm-2am, 244 Gallowgate, Glasgow (041-552 4601)


Libido at Circus Circus. Farley Jackmaster Funk (the Godfather of House) tops the bill for the latest offering from Bliss Promotions. Erotic exposure of fashion clubwear by Propaganda clothing will prove to be a high point. 6 Nov 8.30pm-2am, Banbridge, Ireland (0831 478056)

Additional research by James Robertson

(Photograph omitted)