When I was seventeen years old I walked into the Limit for the first time .The place was a dingy,stinky and, famously,sticky carpeted hellhole.But it was my dingy hellhole and for the next few years I was to be found in there a minimum of three nights per week.
I would often go down after rehearsing with The Mirror Cracked (the band I was playing with at the time) and if noone else was bothered about going I would go on my own…there was always someone to hang out with,the music was great and this (the early 80′s) was my time to hang out till dawn and live the life!
There is now a book by Neil Anderson about Sheffields Limit club called “Take It To The Limit” .It tries to explain why this small nightclub in Sheffield which closed twenty years ago was as important to its patrons as the more celebrated Hacienda in Manchester or CBGBs in New York.
Its true that some great bands played on its stage .National touring acts like U2,The Police,Robert Plant etc etc and local bands like Pulp,Tsi Tsa,Clock DVA,Mrs Beech and The Heretics,The Negatives,The Human League (bizarely in a double bill with Sheffield Metallers Def Leopard) and,I am not laying any claim to greatness here,The Mirror Cracked but more than this it was a social melting pot for anyone in Sheffield who wanted more than the townie experience that the rest of the City Centre offered.For a short period in the early 80s it was your only option if you were of an “alternative” frame of mind.
I guess this is why last nights Limit reunion party at The Casbah Club brought out over five hundred Sheffielders all aged over forty and all ready to party like its 1979.
Nostalgia,they say,is not what it used to be but last night was great. Downstairs at The Casbah was darker than The Limit I remember (maybe my eyesights not all it used to be.)The music played by original DJ Paul Umwin (and Paul you looked good….I mean seriously you looked better than you looked in 1982) was even better than it was back in the day.It was worth the entrance fee just to be amongst five hundred people who would cheer the start of a Joy Division tune and clap when The Slits ,frankly weird ,version of Heard It Through The Grapevine was played.
Standing by the dancefloor as Springsteens Badlands and the Violent Femmes were played we felt we were on the edge of the action.There was Mirror Cracked Bass player and Take It To The Limit chief anecodotist Phil Staniland,Mirror Cracked guitar player Pete Hiley(who now plays with popular Sheffield band Boy On A Dolphin) and myself.Once The Specials Too Much,Too Young and Talking Heads Road To Nowhere were pumping out we were no longer on the edge of the dancefloor.The whole room was the dance floor!
With The Sex Pistols,Public Image,Magazine,Blancmange,Wire,The Skids,The Human League and Cabaret Voltaire amongst the playlist it was like reliving the alternative eighties.I can honestly say its been a long time since I have been amongst five hundred people who cant help but let out a whoop of glee when David Bowies Queen Bitch starts.
There was some strange eighties dancing (particularly on the top floor) but over all I think we were all doing ok.
Many had stayed true to their 80s alternative look….if you were a 50s influenced rockabilly in 1982 then you were still rocking a 50s influenced rockabilly look in 2009 and why not?
We had all aged.Some better than others (step forward to the fountain of youth Mr Pete Eason of The Negatives/ Yah Boo and Mr Pete Hiley of The Mirror Cracked …please share with us your moisterising secrets.)
Some of us had gone on to on to worldwide fame and acclaim(various members of The Human League,ABC,Pulp.)Others had flirted briefly with it (The Bailey Brothers/Artery,the scores of other local bands present.)
One thing is for certain.We lived it hard in the early 80s and we lived it all again last night.
Its twenty years since the Limit closed.Nearly thirty since its heyday.
We better not leave it another thirty years or we will all be in old peoples homes….of course its possible that the old folks home of the future will be black walled and strobe lit with a soundtrack of The Clash,The Cabs,The League,Magazine,Joy Division etc etc etc.I’ll be the one propping up the bar with a grin on my face.
Anyone curious to see what the singer of The Mirror Cracked is up to in 2009 check out this video on You Tube of my band Nat King Bing And The Kings Of Schwing playing (in homage to our Sheffield roots) The Arctic Monkeys Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor in a jazz swing style! Enjoy …….Take It To The Limit!We Salute You. http://www.youtube.com/user/lmmuk#p/a/u/2/nstP2zXUbFg