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Insomniacz...
The Corporation,
Sheffield.

yes, no, yes, no? No! Yes!!.. er... no... er...
Insomniacz is/was an after-hours club (i.e. starting on Sunday mornings at 4am running through to noon plus). Its success initially came from its location - being a short walk from Gatecrasher at The Republic, which ran weekly on Saturdays until 6am - and it being one of the few after-hours, straight clubs outside of London. However, it also built up a following of its own, with some people coming there especially for the club and not going elsewhere beforehand.

The music policy has been to play bouncy hard house and hard trance, bangin' it out from start through to finish. There's no subtlety here, with the young "up-for-it" crowd requiring the continued stimulation of bangin' tunes throughout the night.

As a club, Insoms has faced a number of crises and transitions. There was a split between the club's promoters, with one spending some time away from Sheffield, leaving Tom to run the show, then coming back and trying unsuccessfully to set up his own competing night.

After building the club's attendance to packed proportions at Club Uropa, (with a capacity of 700) and regularly generating long queues and turning people away, Tom moved the club to The Corporation, a larger club, (capacity 1,200 I think - maybe more?) but a risky move as this venue was further from Gatecrasher. By this time though the club had already won a MixMag award and was drawing custom from far and wide. There were few alternatives throughout the North of England, and people came from Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and points in between.

The success of the club led it to be able to charge higher prices and hire top-line hard house guests like Andy Farley and the club's stalwart resident was the excellent Paul Glazby, himself a Sheffield local. Along with the club's success Paul's reputation also grew, both as DJ and producer.

After some wobbly weeks at The Corporation the club seemed to be settling down successfully in its new home, which offered two dance floors, (as against Uropa's one), much more chill-out space, and good ventilation, (poor ventilation often being a problem at Uropa).

In spite of the two dance floors, the music policy remained the same and the two rooms often seemed to be competing with each other as the DJs in each played similar music, (and on some nights, the same tracks).

However, throughout, the club developed a reputation as a Ket hole. I was surprised to see people sitting in the snack bar at The Corporation, snorting lines of white powder from the tables there, something I'd never seen done so openly anywhere else.

At the height of Insomniacz success, Tom started another night, called 101, at The Adelphi, a somewhat run-down venue with a mediocre sound system in Sheffield, running on Saturdays prior to Insoms and also playing hard house. The Adelphi was somewhat remote from the rest of Sheffield's night life. The potential for synergies also seemed under-exploited by the two clubs having similar music policies - potentially offering customers 15 hours of hard house at two venues from 10pm Saturday to 1pm the following Sunday afternoon.

During this time, Gatecrasher (well known for playing trance) seemed to be hardening its music policy somewhat, playing hard house DJs towards the end of the night.

My knowledge of Insoms gets a bit obscure at this point as I had stopped travelling up North, needing to concentrate on my own club in Birmingham. The 101 seemed to have faded away and, for reasons unknown to me, Insomniacz suddenly moved from The Corporation to the National Centre for Popular Music, a venue again close to Gatecrasher and the station.

The NCPM - a museum for pop music - had been a government funded and Sheffield City Council supported flop which left an unusually designed vacant building in the city centre. Insoms moved in there for some weeks to a mixed reaction from its clubbers, (though I got the impression that the majority liked it; I never went so I can't tell you anything about it) and celebrated its second birthday at NCPM in September 2001.

However, pressure from the City Council forced the club to move again and Tom took it back to Club Uropa. However in March 2002, he sent an angry and frustrated e-mail to the club's members, claiming that the police had blocked the granting of a license for Club Uropa to open late. At that point therefore Insoms seemed to be without a home.

The club was then set to reopen on April 21st. 2002 as a private members' club (THE UROPA SUNDAY DANCE CLUB) with the objective "to afford members facilities for meeting one another, for social intercourse and to encourage dancing." New members were to be required to be over 18, to provide proof of identity in the form of a passport or drivers' license, and agree to club rules such as: No intoxicating liquor of any sort or any illegal substances shall be brought onto the club's premises... Members could sign in up to two guests, for whom they were to be responsible.

However, this second attempt at restarting the club in Sheffield proved abortive, and an announcement was made in mid-April, suggesting that a search was still on for a Sheffield venue.

In the meantime Insomniacz tried to establish itself in Birmingham and Tom put on events at The Nightingale, and occasionally at The Works. The Works is a large club which Insoms seem to have trouble filling.

Rumours suggested that the club was aiming to expand its Birmingham presence by going weekly, then that Tom had bought a club in Sheffield.

In July 2002, Insomniacz sent out a pretentiously titled e-mail, ("Sleeping Giant Comes out of Hibernation"), announcing the relaunch of the club in Sheffield at The Adelphi. However, the foundations of its past success, - after-hours, feeding off Gatecrasher - were gone. Gatecrasher by this date had gone monthly, the Adelphi was also some way away from The Republic, and the club at the new venue was no longer after-hours.

Insomniacz' new hours were Saturdays, 9pm to 4am, (which made me wonder why they retained the name "Insomniacz"), and making it a direct competitor to every other Saturday night club.

Reflecting the club's reputation, the announcement of the re-launch also contained a list of rules and restrictions:

"Please respect our rules and feel free to help us get Insomniacz back up there amongst the Super Clubs.
1. There will be a 100% searching policy on the front door for everyone attending the events.
2. We will be employing a sniffer dog at the events.
3. There will be no pass outs to cars.
4. We will randomly testing drinks for GHB.
5. We will be employing under cover in the club as well, so be warned if you are planning to come and deal we will route you out and you will go to jail.
6. There will also be toilet attendants at each event."

Sniffer dogs? Can't get a pass out? Randomly testing your drinks? Go to jail? Hmmm... sounds like a real fun night out!

All this probably reflected the attitude being taken by the licensing authorities in Sheffield towards Insomniacz, as this tough approach is not followed by, nor required of, most clubs. If it was really applied, (and one would have thought it daft of Insoms not to have done so), then the third element which made Insomniacz so popular, the opportunity for clubbers to go out and get utterly wasted, was also gone. That just left the music... from 9pm to 4am.

As of 2003, Insomniacz at the Adelphi has gone the way of the dodo and the club has now moved back to The Corporation, at it's old after-hours time slot.

The club's name still keeps poping up in Birmingham, mainly in association with God's Kitchen's promoters' event "Polysexual". However, the regular Insomniacz DJs rarely if ever are slated to appear, leading one to wonder whether this isn't just an exploitation of the Insoms' name.

A more credible get-together of clubs is between Insoms and Sinergy, in Manchester in May 2003, as Paul Glazby, who plays for both clubs is on the line-up.

I haven't been to Insoms now for some time, so will try to sneak a trip in just to update myself. In the meantime, let me know if you think things are much different: Jonathan@2Klub.com

Update April 2005...

All the glory days have faded and the accolades crumbled to dust. How this club managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is perhaps a bit of a mystery. Then again, if you've read the foregoing, perhaps not.

Sam, the club's assistant manager says that it "has been on a break whilst we regroup etc." for past the year, i.e. 2004. Now with Sundissential planning to re-open Sundissential North in Leeds in May 2005, Insomniacz is planning to run a Leeds event after it.

This club was a brief sensation as an afterhours club feeding off a nearby superclub which initally brough in most of its customers. It seemed to be about to make the transition to something original and independent in its own right but somehow lost its way, dogged by the antipathy of the local authorities to the very things which led to its initial success as an after-hours club.

Having failed to transform itself into a butterfly, the moth continued to be attacked, and, as quickly as it had emerged, died.

Have the lessons of the past been learned? Can the same formula work again in 2005? Can Insomniacz shake off the past and become something else?

We shall see. Roll on May 30th. 2005.

 

 
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