Clubland's night of the century goes into a spin as revellers refuse to pay record entrance prices

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The Independent Online
THE MUCH-HYPED millennium parties at Britain's "superclubs" are suffering poor ticket sales and possible cancellations because of the high price of tickets. With entry fees ranging from pounds 60 to pounds 110, many clubbers are choosing to stay at home.

This summer saw club promoters frenziedly booking the DJs expected to pull in the crowds. The top 10 DJs, including Pete Tong and Carl Cox, are expected to earn between pounds 100,000 and pounds 300,000 for the evening's work.

Geoff Oaks, of the north of England dance club brand, Renaissance, said: "The DJs forced the price at the start of the summer when there was a rush by clubs to book them. If people are staying at home it is because of the price of an evening out.

He said: "Ticket sales across the board are not doing well. If anyone else tells you different they are lying. "

Another leading club promoter in the south of England said: "Club promoters are wetting themselves. Ticket sales are poor and some people are standing to lose a lot of money."

BBC Radio 1 has organised a 24-hour global party to be broadcast live from many of Britain's clubs.

Pete Tong, who will be broadcasting live on Radio 1 on Friday, has said: "It's going to be the biggest club night in history. DJs are reaching rock star status and the money's not bad either.

"None of them will reveal their true earnings but I think it's safe to say there will be a few bulging banks accounts come New Year's Day."

The select few DJs will fly across the country to play two-hour sets in up to four different locations. DJs are charging 10 to 20 times their normal fees. Geoff Oaks, of Renaissance, said: "Ticket prices have been dictated by production costs and not the promoters trying to make money. If the DJs are worth the money we paid for, then we wouldn't be sat here cancelling gigs."

Many club owners have cut prices or cancelled events rather than risk sums in excess of a million pounds. The club Golden has halved the price and capacity of its Manchester gig, originally pounds 80.

Renaissance cancelled the gig at the 4,500-capacity Trentham Gardens in Sheffield, the largest of three events it had planned and moved the booked DJs to the smaller, 1,400-capacity, Nottingham event because fewer than 1000 tickets had been sold.

Home, the new megaclub on Leicester Square, has been granted a licence to stay open until 8am, but won't comment on ticket sales.

Events featuring rock and pop artists as well as the traditional dance DJs (Cream in Liverpool and Gatecrasher in Sheffield) are seen to be doing better than DJ-only gigs. ButCream's flagship event at Liverpool Pier for 30,000 people, at pounds 75 a head, has suffered a setback after Christmas storms seriously damaged the enormous marquee that was to provide cover for the partygoers.

Still, Cream, also holding three "Party of the Century" events at pounds 99 a ticket around the country, maintain their line-ups will remain as scheduled and prices will not be altered. James Barton, the director of Cream, would not reveal how many tickets had been sold but claimed to be on target.

"The good gigs are selling and the bad ones are not," he said. "We have no need to reduce prices." Gatecrasher is expecting to make pounds 2.5m by charging 25,000 people pounds 100 a head for their night at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium.

The Ministry of Sound is charging pounds 100 for its party in London. They have also organised events in Fiji, Australia, South Africa, Kuala Lumpur and across Europe. Brandon Block's Godskitchen will be charging between pounds 100 and pounds 160 for tickets at gigs in Birmingham and Manchester.

Only the Basics club in Leeds seems immune from the millennium profit motive. They are hosting a free party at the Mint Club.

Research by James Davis

HOW BRITAIN'S PREMIER DANCE VENUES ARE HOPING TO DRAW THE CROWDS

MINISTRY OF SOUND

A party at the club's London base will feature the American DJ David Morales (right) and CJ Mackintosh. The charge for an expected 2,000 people is pounds 100 a head. Events are also being held in Fiji, Australia, South Africa, Kuala Lumpur and Europe.

RENAISSANCE

Had to cancel the 4,500 capacity Trentham Gardens gig in Sheffield and switch DJs to the Nottingham event because fewer than 1,000 tickets had sold. Nottingham: Capacity 1,400. London: The Cross, 700 capacity at pounds 75 a head.

CREAM

Liverpool Pier Head venue can accommodate 30,000 people at pounds 75 per head. DJs include Pete Tong (left), Fatboy Slim, Sasha, Paul Oakenfold (right) and Seb Fontaine. Their huge temporary structure has been damaged in the Christmas storms and is being repaired.

Liverpool Cream's normal club venue has 3,100 capacity at pounds 99 per head. DJs include Tong, Fontaine and Fatboy Slim.

GATECRASHER

The Sheffield club expects to charge 25,000 people pounds 100 a head for a night at the Don Valley Stadium, where they are erecting the "world's largest portable structure". Attractions include Chemical Brothers, Judge Jules (right), Paul Oakenfold, Sasha.

GOLDEN

Golden has halved the price and capacity of its gigs, originally pounds 80. DJs include Brandon Block and Alex P.

Manchester: Capacity 2,000, at pounds 39 per head. Stoke-on-Trent: Capacity 1,150, at pounds 39 per head.

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