Nightclub closures: Cash-strapped clubbers make their nights out count

A hangover from a heady night out in a dark, sweaty club complete with cheap drinks and a sticky dancefloor was once the staple of a student weekend.

But as the UK's largest nightclub operator becomes the latest casualty in the cost-of-living crisis, we look at how the night-time economy has changed.

Pryzm and Atik clubs, which stood on many high streets, closed earlier this month after owner Rekom UK said rising costs had hit young people hard.

Despite this, people still have money for what Parklife festival founder and club owner Sacha Lord calls the "big moments".

Glastonbury Festival tickets sold out in less than an hour when they went on sale last November - despite the £360 price tag.

Concerts have also had a bumper year, with artists like Taylor Swift pulling in the crowds.

The Piece Hall in Halifax, West Yorkshire, which has become a stunning outdoor venue over the summer months, now draws huge crowds and has international artists clamouring to perform there.

None of these show any signs of being affected by the undeniable squeeze on everyone's wages.

Erin, Kelly and Niamh
Leeds students Erin, Kelly and Niamh said clubs often play the same music and charge too much for entry

Could it be that young people are cutting back on mid-week nights out to save for these concert tickets and festival experiences?

Mr Lord, who is Greater Manchester's night-time economy adviser and the man behind popular Manchester club The Warehouse Project, believes so.

"People are going out less, but they are being very picky when they are going out." he said.

"So where there are festivals, where you can see lots of different artists, people still want to go out for these big moments.

"People like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift, some of the ticket prices are extortionate, but people are still going to these big events."

He said the closure of student nights showed young people were feeling the bite of the cost-of-living crisis, adding: "The students are still partying, but they will buy a bottle in the supermarket and have a house party instead."

Mr Lord said the Rekom closures were "the tip of the iceberg" and he expected to see more closures in the hospitality sector over the coming months.

All may not be lost on the high street, however.

Businessman John O'Donoghue, who is soon to open a branch of his Home nightclub in Leeds, says he is in for the long haul, investing in the city for the next 15 to 20 years.

"People are going out less often, but when they do it's important that they have a really good experience," he said.

"I don't think anybody underestimates the challenges with food prices and energy prices going up. But hospitality is an important part of people's lives, and it's important that people do have that opportunity to go out and have a good time."

His club will be similar to one of the same name in Lincoln, and will take over the former Cargo site in The Light.

It will have a restaurant on the ground floor, targeted at the daytime and early evening market, and a club environment downstairs for late nights.

Elton John performing on stage at Glastonbury
Glastonbury tickets sold out within an hour when they went on sale in November

Mr O'Donoghue said: "The reality is we live differently to how we lived 20 years ago, the pull on our disposable income has changed. If you think about broadband, gym memberships, take-out coffees - all those things weren't on the horizon back then."

Students in Leeds - such as Leeds Beckett first year Niamh Kelly, 19 - said they tended to go out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when bars and clubs held more affordable student nights.

But the cost of entry and similarities between the venues can put them off.

Her friend Erin Hawksworth, also 19, said: "Drinks have become so expensive, sometimes you can get a double for £5 but sometimes it can be a tenner.

"Everyone is playing the same music now, everyone is playing exactly the same thing and you just hear the same thing every time you go to the club."

Matthew Bannister
Music production student Matthew Bannister said buying drinks out was too expensive for many

Lucy Elder added: "It is so expensive, I would be happy to have two weeks off clubbing and save up for a festival." They all agreed the cost of going to a festival was often similar to a holiday.

Matthew Bannister, 19, who is studying music production at Leeds Beckett, said he used to go to Pryzm as it was a "cheap night out" - but generally, buying drinks at clubs was not affordable.

"We always have to pre-drink before, we never buy drinks out because it's too expensive," he said.

"I probably go out a bit less than some people might have done in previous years I guess. I go out about twice a week, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays."

Pryzm clubs in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Watford closed last week, as did Atik clubs in Dartford, Romford, Windsor and Wrexham.

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