Picking up DJing jobs where you live may seem ideal as you don’t have as far to travel after you’ve finished your set (or finished partying after your set), but where’s the fun in that? As well as getting bored of seeing the same old faces, you won’t experience the different reactions from different crowds and getting to play a wider range of sound systems and room setups.
If you’re looking to take the next step in your DJ career or just want to experience something than the same old local cars and nightclubs, then why not plan a tour, or at least a night away every once in a while. As long as you’re getting paid to DJ, then the hotel and travel costs will be paid for, plus it’s a great excuse for a weekend way
We’ve put together a list of places in the UK that have great nightlife and plenty of places to pick up a booking, as well as some venue locations to help you start putting together a plan to get and start DJing to a wider audience.
The Scousers may know how to drink, but Liverpool also has massive student and temporary stag and hen populations that turn the city into party central not only at the weekend, but through the week too. Head to any bar around concert square on a Saturday and the place is always packed.
Liverpool has a mixture of venues, but indie and rock are still popular, good news if you like DJing anything late 2000’s (if you don’t hear or play a Wombats song while you’re there, consider that to be a problem). The Krazyhouse is a very mixed alternative venue who may accept guest booking depending on your portfolio and experience.
For commercial, dance and house DJs, then it’s Liverpool’s bars and nightclubs where you’ll find regular guest spots. The Arts Centre, Invisible Wind Factory and Santa Chupitos all have live music and regular club nights, as well as busy main rooms for a big one.
Often shunned for not being as a cool as London or Manchester, the second city has improved massively over the last few years and is getting away from Arena shows and canned pop to become a bit more refined when it comes to the choice of music. Digbeth is slowly becoming the Northern Quarter or Camden / Shoreditch / Brixton of the West Midlands, and the Rainbow is the heart of it. A massive venue with indoor and outdoor event spaces as well as plenty of smaller rooms, you can definitely get a booking, although you might need to wait a few months. The Custard Factory is another decent night out, along with PRYZM, which is one of Birmingham’s biggest clubs.
One of the UK’s main cities for music, Manchester still rides the Madchester / Rave Wave, partying hard week in, week out. There’s the Warehouse Project, where you can apply to support huge acts from all genres in a huge underground space, the excellent Gorilla under Oxford Road station, and the quirky Antwerp Mansion, built in a derelict old house. Whatever you like to play, Manchester has a space for it. Just make sure you’ve got Live Forever in your vinyl box before you dare to wander into somewhere like The Venue though.
Simply put, Newcastle is a party city. With thousands of students, plenty of locals who are out to party hard and a huge bar to person ratio, Newcastle is absolute bedlam on a weekend. From the cheesy music and lad culture of the big market to the relaxed vibes at Ouseburn, there’s something unique for everyone, along with the Tiger Tiger’s and Revolution’s that you’ll find anywhere else. Digital is the holy grail for local DJs and is regularly voted one of the best nightclubs in Europe, but there’s also places like Powerhouse, a huge 5 floor gay nightclub that has music for literally every taste.
If you fancy a proper Geordie experience with spilled pints, trebles and a distinct lack of sensible clothing in January then hit up any of Mushroom, Sinners, Cosy Joe’s or Gotham Town. The last one acts as Digital’s pre-bar and is wild on a Saturday night. Luckily, there is a handy city guide available for you to plan a full weekend up there; it’s a long way to go just for a night.
Another medium-sized city that seems to churn out more great music acts than there are people, Bristol’s nightlife mixes alternative and mainstream in the best possible way. Although you’ll find the ultra-cool old brick warehouses filled with ravers and indie kids, like Lakota and Dojo, Bristol has plenty of big house and dance venues like Motion where you won’t be judged for what you play.
If you fancy something totally different, then check out Thekla. With the departure of the Tuxedo Princess in Newcastle, Thekla is now the last nightclub on a boat in the UK. Bristol is also bit of a hub for Drum and Bass, so if your track list doesn’t go below 175bpm, Bristol is the city for you.
Hopefully these cities will give you some ideas for your next show and will avoid the same old boring nights in your hometown or city. Plus, all of them are way cheaper for a bit of fun afterwards than London but will still pay premium rates, if you’re good enough!