Last Saturday night was always destined to be a night I won’t forget. It had been pencilled into my calendar as my last night in World Headquarters as a student, a club that I have grown to call home over the last 3 years at Newcastle Uni. ‘Club’ is probably the wrong word, as World HQ or Worldies as it is affectionately called, is much more than that. It is a community centred on equality and diversity in race and gender; it is a way of life.
Most importantly, it is a celebration of the best music in the world. Over the course of countless visits, I’ve danced to Reggae, Soul and even David Bowie’s greatest hits at a tribute night following the singer’s passing. It was only very recently that I realised how well Worldies can be utilised to pump up the jams of the 90s House revolution.
"I felt as though I’d partied just like people did back in the days before I was born"
Over the last few years I’ve grown accustomed to screaming the lyrics to bangers like ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S and ‘Turn Around’ by Phats and Small at club nights like Swingers and over-packed events at Digital. It could be said that these tracks have become more staple to my uni diet in the North East than cheesy chips and gravy. I quickly grew to love 90s House music without quite realising it, simply because its infectious groove is one of the easiest things to have a good time to. I’d get my fix of House classics at most popular club nights and house parties, and reserve Worldies for more retro nights, complimented by murals of old legends like Donna Summer, Joni Mitchell and Curtis Mayfield.
"an old school club night free from frills and gimmicks"
It blew my mind when I heard about the long-established club night Exhale and realised that my growing appreciation for House classics was welcome in my favourite club in town. It felt almost like a validation – I could now boast about being a fan of 90s Ibiza House and Trance because Newcastle’s musical temple was allowing fans to pay homage to these genres within its holy walls. Although Exhale started four and a half years ago as a monthly night promoted by three final year Northumbria students, I only heard about it at the start of this year through word-of-mouth, which goes to show how it functions like an old school club night free from frills and gimmicks. This is largely owed to the fact that its team has stayed independent from the city’s big promotional companies since it was founded. You simply buy a ticket, turn up, get sweaty and have a blast. After experiencing this for the second time at Exhale’s End of Term Blowout on the 10th June, I felt as though I’d partied just like people did back in the days before I was born.
Exhale’s 5 hour policy has been a whopping success with nearly 30 sold-out Saturday/ Bank Holiday parties in a row, and this is undoubtedly due to its playlist which promises crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser. On the decks are resident DJs Luke Scott and Stuart Nurse who have tailored their mixes to stimulate constant cheers until 4am. They play the best in classic House, Trance, Garage and Ibiza anthems from roughly 1985-2005, staying well away from the current decade and bringing it back to the raves of that period. This timespan has led to a unique demographic, appealing to both students and locals of ages between 18 and 40+ which adheres to World HQ’s policy of diversity. In this sense, the club and the event work in harmony.
Although I fit into the lower bracket of Exhale’s audience as a 20-year-old, the main feeling I got from Exhale’s end of term party was one of nostalgia. Every time the mix blended in a tune that I was familiar with (regardless of to what extent), a wave of happiness would wash over me as I recalled brilliant tracks that I’d lost touch with over time, until reconnecting again in that moment. This happened in particular with ‘Infinity’ by Guru Josh Project, as the crowd seemed to grow closer together to chant the well-known lyrics, and also with the 2004 dance hit ‘Put ‘Em High’ earlier in the night. The set was comprised of tracks like these that everyone knows but often forgets about, and more established favourites like Faithless – ‘Insomnia’ which will be played in clubs at 3am until the end of time, advocating quite the opposite of getting any sleep.
Without any hesitation, the climax of the entire night was the moment when the first three harmonic notes of Robert Miles’ ‘Children’ broke through the sombre bass, setting a different tone to the one of pure joy encapsulating the rest of the night. From the day it was released in 1995, this instrumental composition has existed as a stunning piece of work, but the sentiment in World HQ was even more palpable following Miles’ death just last month. Maybe it was due to university officially coming to an end for myself, but the emotional depth of the tracks selected for Exhale’s last party were really felt – I’ll probably be wiping a nostalgic tear from my cheek every time I hear ‘Take Me to The Clouds Above’ from here on out.
There are too many great tunes played at Exhale for me to mention here, so I’ve compiled a 6 hour long playlist including more Trance tracks like Ayla by DJ Taucher, which you can find and follow on Spotify.
Exciting times await Exhale as they plan to throw another 12 parties next year, including a 2 floor 5th Birthday show in February with special guests. Tickets always start at £5 without ever exceeding £8, and if you’re already in the mood to experience an authentic House and Trance rave in the heart of Newcastle, you can grab one now for their upcoming Summer Session on 8th July.