Sometime in the 90’s, towards the end after all of that Hacienda stuff, The Ritz over on Whitworth Street decided that it was time to throw off its reputation as a ‘Grab a Granny’ place and branch out – offering something that many of the other clubs and venues in the city just weren’t offering.
Sure, Friday and Saturday nights were still very much like a meat market (but with more stilettos) but during the week they offered something new; alternative student nights that really started to pack in the crowds and eventually achieved legendary status.
Monday nights were home to ‘Dirty Stop Out‘ – a riotous rock and alternative night that always ended with the DJ playing the Dambusters theme tune while everyone would run in a big circle on the dancefloor, arms outstretched pretending to be Spitfires. Brilliant.
Wednesday night was just as special (if not more) as a bloke called Brutus Gold came down with a playlist of true 70’s disco bangers, an entourage of eccentric backing dancers and enough cheese to make the Laughing Cow take a long hard look at her life choices.
The night was Brutus Gold’s Love Train and it managed to pack out The Ritz week-in, week-out until 2009 with a hazy combination of platforms, flares, some ridiculous wigs and an over-abundance of camel toe.
The music was PURE cheesy disco with the likes of Tina Charles, The Bee Gees, Rose Royce and Sister Sledge being pumped through the speakers on a regular basis.
It wasn’t just about the music though – one shouldn’t forget the legendary dancing competition, where anyone in the crowd had the opportunity to get up on the stage and dance like a complete dick head in front of everyone else. Even though I tried my very best to get on the stage pretty much every week – I never got picked so I don’t have a clue what the winners got. I was usually too annoyed or upset that I didn’t get picked to care.
So – who even is Brutus Gold? Because that sure isn’t his real moustache and I can bet my bottom dollar that he’s not really the ‘Puerto Rican Love God‘ that he claims to be.
Well, I don’t know about the ‘Love God’ bit (because I never got bloody picked to go on stage!) but the Puerto Rican bit is blarney – unless there’s a place up in Middlesbrough that shares its name with the Caribbean island.
Destroying all semblance of glamour, Brutus is in fact a bloke called Nigel from Stockton in the ‘Boro who decided to take his 70’s character from the North East to the clubs of Leeds and Manchester in the 90’s. His alter ego has managed to perform all over the world, with gigs at the Cannes Film Festival and working with the likes of Tina Turner and David Soul.
Like most club nights, Love Train started small, with Nigel playing the odd disco track around Sunderland and Middlesbrough, even going so far as to just drive around town in a mini bus asking passers-by if they wanted to listen to the Bee Gees.
He went from being ‘Funky Nige’ to ‘Brutus Gold’ as the nights got bigger and more extravagant, adopting the moustache, the loud shirts and the rather expensive Cuban heels over time.
The rest they say is history as he grabbed an eclectic gang of dancers and performers with names like Disco Dick, Angel De Lyte, Chad Valley and Krystal Crest – all decked out in the finest 70’s clobber imaginable to join him up on stage.
Since finishing at The Ritz, Brutus had a couple of stints in other venues including The Mint Lounge but kind of disappeared from the city for a fair few years – apart from the odd special event here and there.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the whole gang is back for a super-special show this Saturday 3rd August at the Albert Hall – and it looks like things will be back to how they used to be. Apart from the sticky carpet, bouncy dancefloor and £1 bottles of Stella of course.
So grab your flares, press your big collared shirt, and wear your sunglasses inside without anyone thinking you’re a prick. One of the best nights of your life awaits. I’ll see you there.
Brutus Gold’s Love Train
Venue: Albert Hall
Date: Saturday 3rd August