Take me to the Limit

Some of my best times ever were at  The Limit Club. It was just around the corner from our flat on Hawley Street (see ‘duo tan and doughnuts!).  Me and my best friend got jobs behind the bar and it was absolutely bloody great.  Am about to unleash some secrets so any management who happen to come upon this, I’m sorry ok!!!

The Limit was a glossed black door with a crudely painted sign.  You had to go down some steps, pay your entry as required and voila!  There it was, the dingiest, smelliest, best little club in Sheffield.  The floors were sticky, sweat dripped from the nicotine stained and very low ceiling and the beer was shamelessly watered down.  The bouncers were feared and drugs plentiful.

Nights varied but not much.  Sometimes it was promoted as a nurses or student night but it was basically the same night- but with added students and nurses.  The music was diverse and attracted an equally diverse clientel, an example of  some of a typical playlist:

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

“About the Weather” by Magazine

“Transmission” by Joy Division

“Into the Valley” by the Skids

“I Got you” by Split Enz

“Quiet Life” by Japan

“Life In Tokyo” by Japan

“Boys Cry” by Original Mirrors (aka the Lightening Seeds)

“Furniture Music” by Red Noise

Anything by the Jam

“Love Song” by The Damned

and some of the bands that played there….

B 52s (1st English Gig 1979)

Heaven 17

Death Cult

Bethnal

Bill Nelson (of Bebop Deluxe) -Early 80s

Cabaret Voltaire

Candy Paige

Chris Rea

Cockney Rejects

Def Leppard

Department S (1981 ?)

Depeche Mode – 03/02/81

Erasure – 8-12-1985

Human League (1985-1986)

Lena Lovich

Madness

Pulp

Simple Minds

The Beat

The Cure – 29/05/1979

The Cramps – 03/11/1980

The Alarm

The Mekons

The Planets – 27/02/1980

The Police – 28-11-1978

The Macc Lads

The Smirks

UB40

Secret Affair

Gang Of Four

Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Siouxie and the Banshees

Chas and Dave !!!!!!!!!!

The Meteors

The Barracudas

Paul Young and the Q-Tips

Selector

Revillos

Skids

UK Subs

Death Trash

Steel Pulse

The Lurkers (May 1978)

Ultravox (21 Sept 1978)

U2

Robert Plant (26 May 1981)

Marillion (19 Aug 1982)

Roman Holiday (19th May + 22 Sept 1983)

Generation X (Jan 1986)

Toyah – 17/04/79 & 16/08/79

The Psychadelic Furs – 03/20/80

The Comsat Angels – 29.09.85 – 29.11.85

Level 42 – 5th November 1981 (yep, bonfire night !)

Q magazine also awarded the B52’s gig at the Limit on july 24th 1979 as one of the best gigs of all time !

 I had gone there for a couple of years before I worked there and everyone knew everyone.  The DJ, Paul, certainly had an eclectic playlist.  We would wait for a song we like to be played and then mooch onto the dance floor. Then he would play Bahuaus or The Smiths and the Pete Murphy or Morrissey lookalikes would drift on to the dance floor. He would then play some Sisters of Mercy and the goths would go for their turn, the he would throw abit of Meteors in and the flatops/psychobillies would do their aggressive chicken type moves.  Abit of Sly and Robbie, abit of Bowie, alot of simple minds,  The Limit covered all genres.

 

To begin with, I was on ‘the main bar’.   There was a little hatch at the bottom where the dealers used to hang out.  We would trade triple malibu’s for spliffs through the hatch.  if we were going out after work we would go up all the optics with a half pint glass and carry on serving even though we were drunk.  All drinks were served in plastic glasses.  This was good because there were alot of fights in The Limit. You always knew when there was a fight because The DJ would call the bouncers in who would drag those involved out and close the doors.  It wasn’t pretty what happened next.  You had to be  pretty crazy to have a fight in there….

A  Homage to the glass collectors:

We had two glass collectors in The Limit; Martin and Max.  Martin was middle aged, always had dark circles around his eyes and sweated alot.  He had a huge beer belly and spent alot of time emptying the beer trays into a plastic pint glass.  He looked like an NHS advert for every warning sign about your health ever!!

Max looked like a middle aged Max Wall…hence the nickname, good eh?I think his name was Barry really, He was slightly creepy, always wore shorts and danced around collecting glasses and priding himself on the height of his stack.  They were both good sorts though and their lives revolved around their job and free beer.  They were an element of the club which was important and kept it chugging along, and for that Martin and Max, I salute you both!

I felt very important when I was moved to the corner bar.  I kept the ice bucket topped up and had many regulars who just hung out and chatted about themselves.   I had a cigarette break roughly every 5 minutes which gave me a chance to survey the dance floor; watch the preening, the strutting, the snogging, the fighting, the drunken swaying and the fights breaking out.

The toilets were in line with the hygiene standards of the rest of the club.  Often there would be inches of water and other liquids on the floor so you had to kind of wade to a cubicle where 9 times out of 10 you couldn’t get in because someone was either being sick, asleep or having sex.  there were Male and Female toilets but there were always both sexes in both toilets fighting for mirror space and touching up their make up.
Just outside the toilets was the drug buying/selling and smoking area.  The monopoly was held by around 4 or 5 guys who were always well stocked for those wanting to enhance their experience with a bit of finest ganja or perhaps a small amount of mixed herbs depending on their naivety, age, innocence and buying style.
The beer was watered down and really only worthy of the plastic pint pots we served it in.  There was once beer worms (they are a thing!) in the pipes and they used to show themselves occassionally on the insipid froth of a pint of 60% Stones bitter 40% water.  I used to advise anyone I liked to drink only out of cans and bottles if they valued their livers.
I was renound for being a miserable cow.  Customer service was by no means a priority for Limit employees.  I didn’t have any affinity to the hundreds of students ordering 5 bottles of Newcastle Brown on a Wednesday night (‘Student Night’) when it was half price. I wasn’t going to waste the use of facial muscles, that entailed smiling, on them.
Incidentally, the future father of my children was one of those customers and confessed to being scared of me and in no way attracted to me at the time!
I later was moved to The Wine Bar.  This was a particularly prestigious move as all I sold was wine and the occassional bottle of champagne to a select clientle who could afford to buy it because a:  They had a job or b: they sold drugs or c: They had neither but wanted to blow a giro on a right posh drink to impress someone.
One time, the police raided us after a tip off and everyone threw their drugs into the DJ box and for some reason the police never looked in there..not quite sure where they ended up!  There were some amazing characters:  Bauhaus Anthony, Deano, Glenroy, Morrissey Jason, Trevor (who later released a single, was on ‘Pebble mill at one’ and was called ‘the most beautiful man in the world’!)  Names I can’t recall with my middle aged, 3 second memory, but faces I will never forget.
During the late 80’s dance music arrived with an almighty, uplifting, energy that engulfed the Limit on a Friday night.  Two DJ’s called Asterix and Space took over and minds were blown by what they played.  It was an epiphany.  The kids that had previously hung around the edges of the dance floor took it over with some immaculate, beautiful moves.  I absolutely loved this time.  A few months in I had a smiley face tshirt on behind the bar and we all used to dance .  It left me wanting more of that music and led to a lifelong love for disco and dance music, a brief dalliance with Acid house, The House music of Chicago and an all encompassing change.  It was what I had been looking for in many ways.  My style changed to a pilot jacket covered in NASA patches, over the knee socks with garters, short swirly skirts, cropped bleached hair and occassionally a bowler hat.
I have made questionable style choices in my time and am not sure where this one came from, but me and my friend used to dress almost the same so we must have agreed between us that this was a good look!!
On Saturday afternoons there were occassional hip hop/breakdancing events for under 16s.  i was only allowed to sell them fizzy pop and sweets.
The Friday nights brought a whole new crowd in which was really exciting.  There was less beer and more dancing, less scowling and more smiling.
After work we would seek out warehouse parties, (actual dance nights in old warehouses) and under the Wicker Arches, The Jive Turkey (in the city hall ballroom) with DJs Winston and Parrot:

We went onto search further afield and travelled to clubs and elusive nights in London Bridge with strawberry flavoured dry ice.

In January 1991 we were told that the council were closing down The Limit to build a car park.
my staff tshirt worn on the very last night of the Limit

It was a sad, nostalgic and strange night.  The playlist played for the last time and people took souveneirs;  beermats,  stools, posters, ashtrays.  The Limit Club has had a number of attempted comebacks but it will never , and should never be recreated.  I went to a reunion and it was very strange, half recognising people that I hadn’t seen for 30 years.  We did our best to join in and reminisce but it was just a little bit melancholic for me.  The Limit was and always will go down in Sheffield Music history as one of the most iconic clubs.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Take me to the Limit

  1. Love this , it’s like we all have the same memories 😊 Which is no bad thing.
    I was 14 on my first visit thinking I looked a lot older looking back at the photos I don’t know how I got in anywhere.
    I think it was around 86- 87 when I stopped working the bar , some of my most treasured memories and some of the best friendships were made in that place ☠️

    Like

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