We look into what the fascination is with the notorious night, affectionately nicknamed “Basics” by regulars, and how it has carved out such an unparalleled reputation.
For local Leeds DJ Michael Upson, co-founder of the underground DJ collective (A Rave Called Sharon), Basics isn’t just a club night, it’s a community: “As a rebellious gay teenager disillusioned with school and university, Basics helped me find a group of like-minded friends united by a love of hedonism and house music. Nightlife scenes don’t just spontaneously happen; they are driven and curated by individuals. Dave Beer is that individual, and we all owe him a lot.”
Beer, an ex-roadie for bands including The Ramones and That Petrol Emotion, founded Basics out of the simple desire to throw a party his friends would want to go to. While the 90s warehouse rave scene remained in full swing, Basics offered up an alternative for pleasure-seekers hunting out no-nonsense house music with Dave’s idiosyncratic punk twist. The combination was explosive, and Basics’ renegade punk ethos remains its lifeblood today. Run with alternating resident DJs, who over the years have included Ralph Lawson, Tristan Da Cunha, and James Holroyd, Back to Basics is Beer’s magnum opus, a tour de force of the British house music scene.
Curating the crowd
When Sankeys famously turned Justin Bieber away from the door in 2013 (swiftly tweeting “He shuffles on stage and we can’t be having that in Sankeys now can we!”) they savvily cemented their underground status. Turning away one of the world’s biggest stars confirmed the club’s exclusivity and sent a powerful message that you’re either Sankeys or you’re not. Unbeknownst to modern day clubbers, this brave and subversive move followed a model cast by Dave back in the early days of Basics. In its genesis at The Music Factory, formerly gay club The Chocolate Factory, the night’s unpredictable door policy caused as much controversy as its underground vibe and half-a-mile long queues. Basics-goers who made it inside felt part of something, lending the crowd its electricity and energy that’s still palpable on the dance floor today.
Ahead of the game
Basics has played a game of musical venues over the years, hopscotching not just across Leeds but also around the world. While the night itself has become internationally known, it’s also credited with nurturing the careers of world-famous DJs including Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx. In recent months, you’ll hear Basics’ heady house beats winding out of Call Lane’s Wire Club. Regardless of where the night calls home, the winning formula that propelled Basics to worldwide notoriety remains perennially intact, despite the passing of 24 years since its doors first opened. The crowd may have matured but you’ll still find them on the dance floor, peppered among the ceaseless stream of fresh faces discovering the stripped back appeal of the night for the first time. That’s Basics’ allure at its core: it’s as fresh and intoxicating to scene newbies as it was back in 1991. And what more can you expect from a night that’s apt motto confidently declares it “Two steps further than any other f*cker?”
Check out the Basics Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for the next date.