Your Guide to Teesside

One time industrial powerhouse and more recently home to the delicacy of the Parmo, (check it out if you don’t know, they’re pretty special) Middlesbrough is quickly establishing itself on the nightlife map. With a string of impressive bookings across the North East city in the last year and plenty more lined up in the Summer, Middlesbrough is an exciting place to be if you love your live music.

The best place to start would be the historic Middlesbrough Empire. Originally constructed in 1897 and set in an old music hall, The Empire has hosted the biggest names in popular dance music such as Duke Dumont and the Viva Warriors team alongside hard hitting rock icons Kasabian. With a huge seventy square metre stage and a full size cinema screen for production purposes, the team at The Empire transformed the place into an ideal modern day venue whilst retaining the historical aesthetics.

Middlesbrough’s love for live music has excelled in the last couple of years with the introduction of Centre Square; a live music space bang in the centre of the city. Bringing together the city in this open air location for the joy of live music is a brave step and something to be admired. Last year saw mother’s favourite Olly Murs take to the stage and just the other week saw the Marquee Easter Sunday Minifest gather huge crowds for the dynamic duo Bondax amongst others. Yet maybe the biggest statement of intent occured when Hip-Hop deity Snoop Dogg performed on the 9th June.

Lying just outside the city itself you’ll find The Arena Warehouse. With a capacity of 500, the more intimate venue still attracts some big names in the clubbing world such as Bristolian Eats Everything and chart crossover Ben Pearce. One tip, don’t wear white shoes….

Middlesbrough is yet another example of a city somewhat dominated by a strong student population leading to a plethora of cheap deals and varied nightlife over the week. This also means a student union. For students, the Union of Teesside University is a must, voted best in the country twice and again featured in the top 10 across the country last year, The Hub regularly hosts big names within the student community with acts such as Professor Green and DJ Fresh taking to the stage. All this is perfectly complemented by the relaxed Terrace bar, offering up cheap drinks all day. Nightly deals across the city, such as £1.50 drinks on Monday nights at The Crown, are a good way to dust off those weekend blues and kick the week off with a bang. For all the Rock and Roll heads, The Crown is the place to be on Saturdays for the longest running rock night in Middlesbrough, guaranteed to throw up some forgotten classics. Whilst holding live gigs, The Empire also is home to weekly Thursday student night DSTRKX. Hosted by the team behind Koosday events across the country, the night is a combination of £1 jaeger bombs, lasers, smoke machines and even more £1 jaeger bombs, a pretty powerful combination, all sound-tracked by the latest RnB and Hip-hop. For something a little different be sure to check out Wednesday nights at Osbournes with resident DJs laying down the best in Funk, Soul and breaks all night long.

The nightclub business is a cruel world, and now more than ever we’re seeing clubs being forced to shut down for both financial and licensing problems. However tucked away in Middlesbrough is a club that this year will celebrate its fifty-first anniversary. Bongo International is a North East clubbing institution and is the only place up North to discover what Reggae is all about.

Weekends in Middlesbrough see the coming together of all those hardworking people and students across the city. Spensleys Emporium is always a popular choice with the local clientele. Set in an old Gothic building and with a mix of commercial chart music on some nights and Rock themed nights on others, a good crowd is guaranteed. In recent weeks the venue has seen the guys from LUX bring some strong bookings such as Radio 1’s Kissy Sell Out and Artful Dodger. For a slightly more relaxed feel, bars such as Keys Bar and Medicine Bar are the perfect antidote and the perfect place to enjoy a few cocktails. The newly installed Saturday Night Fever style dancefloor at Keys Bar while provide the perfect stage for all your cocktails infused dance moves, with DJs playing the unstoppable combo of Motown and Disco. 

By Jack Evans