Clubs: Highlights


@ empire

Large venues rarely receive much acclaim from punters with regard to decor - this particular Teeside venue bucks the trend. Holding a monster 1,200 (that's the "official" capacity) this is one of the regions biggest venues and boasts an interior that can only be described as spectacular.

The converted Victorian theatre now hosts the sort of revelry that would make its architects blush. A wide range of party animals, mostly young and energetic, but always creatively dressed to match the aesthetic trappings.

Sugar Shack has been going for longer than I can remember and maintains its legendary status by attracting the best house DJs from around the UK.

Despite the size of the place there's only one dancefloor which makes for an all-in rave type of experience. Start off at the edge of the throng and you'll happily find your self being drawn into a sea of writhing bodies. Great night out but needs a later licence.

Fridays, Corporation Road, Middlesbrough TS1 (01642 252553) 9pm-2.30am pounds 8 members/pounds 10 others.


@ the music factory

As the city council issue more late licenses, Sheffield is fast becoming a 24-hour haven for insomniacs. Everyone knows about the two heavyweights, Gatecrashers and Leadmills, but a little clubbing exploration is often rewarded.

Many Sheffield bars provide interesting alternatives to mainstream clubs like Nysushi, which offers house and bass-driven loops alongside PlayStations, noodle bar and Japanese photo slicker machine.

From the look of the relaxed and trendy crowd that turns up every week they may have created the perfect alternative club in a city traditionally dominated by outsized gigs.

Saturdays, London Road, Sheffield S1 (0114 267 1869) 10pm-3am pounds 6/pounds 8.


@ dog star

South of the Thames, the multi-floored Dog Star is probably Brixton's best known venue, always rammed with cosmopolitan revellers who come for the relaxed vibe and varied DJ sets - and it's all for free. This summer sees a new programme of events. Tweakin' is new for Monday nights and sees Tony Rossano chart a journey through the soul-rock-funk spectrum of deep house with Kenny Hawkes. Forgery continues on Tuesdays with Patrick Forge and Richard Welch delivering deep mellow tunes fused with jazz, disco and drum 'n' bass. No dress code, no attitude.

Mon/Tue, 389 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 (0171-738 6532) 9pm- 2am.

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