It’s a quarter to two in the morning. I’m searching for a pocket of space, crammed into a corner with perhaps a hundred other people. A high heel stabs on my toe, I lose rhythm momentarily and my feet cling to the floor. But then, just as they always do, The Strokes start playing, my energy returns to boundless levels again and I resume jumping up and down. I must be at Snobs.
Last month, Birmingham’s longest running nightclub moved from its original home on Paradise Circus after 41 years. Inside the old venue, the wall of faces, tiled dance floor and vintage furniture were hallmarks of what was for many lovers of a more alternative scene, a nightlife sensation.
David Southam has been a promoter and DJ here for over two decades. He’s seen Liam Gallagher, The Limousines and England footballer Gareth Barry come through the doors. Even a once little-known band called The Killers once tried to get their CD played through the speaker system.
‘It’s a great brand; everyone knows what they’re going to get when they come to Snobs’, he grins proudly as he gives me an exclusive tour of the all new venue, recently up and running a few blocks away on the corner of Hurst Street and Smallbrook Queensway.
Snobs had been part of the city’s first ever pre-cast concrete building. Fourteen months ago, extensive plans to renovate the seven storey site into a hotel and apartment complex raised issues over noise levels and vibrations. These ultimately put paid to hopes that the club could continue at its old base, even with soundproofing measures in place, as surrounding tenants vacated and scaffolding enveloped the queues outside the double door entrance.
Southam and the management team were always confident that bringing across the iconic name – not to mention parts of the decor along with them – would provide a strong bait to lure adoring customers back following the completion of the move.
Two weeks in, the £1.5 million, four tier refurbished venue, formerly home to Vudu Lounge, has has enjoyed overwhelmingly positive feedback. Some Birmingham students I spoke to expressed mixed feelings over having to adjust to the nightclub’s larger size, but wall of faces lover Anna Lim was delighted to find that ‘it definitely feels like Snobs’.
Complete with a daytime bar showing football which will also soon be offering food, the option will be available for the most ardent Snobs fans to use the breakfasts served there as a hangover pick-up from the night before.
If this thought needed some time to get one’s head around, perhaps the biggest eyebrow raiser has been the link up with student club organisers Vodbull UK, as Snobs replaces Risa as the home of their popular Thursday night session.
Southam was quick to allay fears that the venues’ image would suffer any sort of damage because of the deal, highlighting the importance of offsetting the greater hire costs of a bigger space. He also explained how the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights on which he takes charge of the decks were marketed separately and would remain intrinsically loyal to the Snobs identity.
Meanwhile upstairs, next to the top floor open air balcony – too nice to be merely a smoking area – columns of freshly cast faces stare back at me as they patiently await their turn to be glazed. It is soon time for David and I to part ways, as he prepares for another frantic evening of midweek downtime for students and local music enthusiasts.
Someone should get on the phone to Brandon Flowers and his entourage and tell them that Snobs has moved.