The Drum and Bass Arena, Sheffield Republic

The weekend began with a friend and I inadvertently stealing an Indian takeaway. This has nothing whatsoever to do with The Republic, and is probably best ignored in the context of this review.

I seem to spend an obnoxious amount of time in The Republic. Not that the time actually spent there is obnoxious, but I’m drawn, as if by a magnet, to this particular Sheffield club with alarming regularity. One minute I’m sitting in Oscar’s quietly having a pint, the next I’m rolling about The Republic, completely off my tits, staring into mirrors saying "Dude, look at the size of my eyes". I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Gods of Drum and Bass. The Republic is to Drum and Bass what the Minster is to Christianity; forget Gatecrasher, The Republic hosts a variety of phat nights such as Drum and Bass Arena and NY Sushi, which provide the discerning clubber with completely secular satisfaction.

The main dance floor is downstairs, facing a raised alter-like stage where the high priests spin their black magic. Of course not all of them connect with the parishioners. Grooverider’s arrogant set proceeded as if the audience wasn’t there, and sure enough, by the time he’d finished, most of them weren’t. It was up to DJ Fresh (Bad Company) to mainline the crowd back into a gurning frenzy, cranking up the action with ridiculously rousing re-winds aided by the undoubted vocal talents of the MCs.

However, The Republic is not a good club for the spatially confused; it seems to have been designed by a mad person, with a penchant for dead ends, interconnecting walkways which don’t go where you expect them to, and whoever thought of swapping the toilets round upstairs was obviously a bit of a joker. The long, narrow dancefloor can make you feel like your part of a huge dancing queue, presumably making some bizarre, Guinness Book of records attempt at the ‘longest queue of people dancing to drum and bass ever recorded’. In my opinion they are probably in with a chance, although Noris McWhirter was no where to be seen so at present it remains unofficial.

The Republic makes absolutely no effort to be a ‘nice’ club. It’s dirty, smelly, and pugnacious, and drinks beer out of bottles then throws them on the floor. If it were a city, it would be Leeds at 3.00 in the morning on a Friday night. However, this rough and ready attitude suits the raw energy of the nights that it plays host to. What you see is what you get, and I like what I see, even if it is a bit blurred.

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