Clubs: Leeding the way in club style

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Five years ago Leeds was bangin'. What it lacked in size, it made up for in clubbing variety and regularly attracted more travelling revellers than its high-profile northern neighbours, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. Then it all went pear-shaped.

For reasons which still aren't entirely clear, Leeds became the most notable victim of the clubbing recession. It effectively became a clubbing ghost town, resulting in the shocking demise of some of the UK's most famous promotions - Back 2 Basics and Up Yer Ronson.

The entire nocturnal culture has since changed in Leeds. Now it boasts a vibrant bar scene which wasn't there a few years ago, and is once more earning an impressive reputation for its night life. All of this makes it a good place to visit if you fancy a weekend away.

The Lava Lounge claims to be the sound of swinging Leeds - a tribute to 1960s kitsch. Sixties discotheque, funky soundtracks, Hammond organ grooves and French pop. If clubbing is all about escapism, then indulge at your leisure every Tuesday.

If you prefer your beats harder, visit Electronix at the Pleasure Rooms for a Sunday evening session. The further north you go in the UK, the more popular techno seems, but this gig offers something different.

They describe their sound as "electro technobass, futurefunk, beat-breaking hip hop and lowdown stompin' deep acid house grooves". Worth visiting if only to discover these new forms of dance music.

A weekender in Leeds will be wasted if you don't visit the best gig for miles around - Hard Times. Punters regularly travel from London for this garage night, to hear DJs who've flown in from New York, for example, to play at a club that's going from strength to strength.

"The musical policy of the club is unique," says co-founder Steven Raine. "If you want to listen to the US garage sound, then you have to listen to it at Hard Times. We've still got our old followers, but we're also seeing younger fans which is always encouraging."

While London is recognised as the first point of call for visiting DJs, Hard Times can claim to have attracted many of the world's finest spinners - Todd Terry, Dave Morales, C J Mackintosh and Lord G are a few who have performed and returned.

"The atmosphere is something that's been built up over the years. As a DJ you'll get an unbelievable response if you give the crowd what they want. It's all too easy to stick to a tried-and-tested formula, but we've always tried to be innovative and push forward."

When you absolutely, positively have to have the very best in US garage, accept no substitutes.

Hard Times: Saturdays at Nato, Boar Lane (01924 488220) 10pm-6am, pounds 10/pounds 12 concs

Lava Lounge: Tuesdays at the Underground, T&C Club, Cookridge Street (0113-280 0100) 10pm-2am, pounds 3/pounds 3.50 concs

Electronix: Sundays at The Pleasure Rooms (0113 293 4666) 4pm-very late, pounds 3/pounds 2.50 concs