New Year’s Eve 2012. I asked var­i­ous peo­ple how they intend­ed to cel­e­brate. Most­ly, it seemed, this was to be the year of the “qui­et night in”. How bor­ing, I thought. I need to go out and do some danc­ing, maybe rolling back home as dawn creeps in.

I’ve always been drawn to The Trades, Heb­den Bridge. As a gig venue, this York­shire trade union club has been through peaks and troughs, as any Heb­den local will tell you. But it has the basics so right, whether that was inten­tion­al or not: wind your way up the stairs and along the nar­row cor­ri­dor, past the rough and ready bar on the right, the slight­ly odor­ous toi­lets on the left, and you find your­self in an almost per­fect per­for­mance space for 200 pun­ters. For live per­for­mances it’s great as you can always have a good view of the stage; for club nights its the per­fect par­ty space.

Tonight it’s Men­tal Elf, and the place is look­ing ready to par­ty. All the ban­quettes round the edges are rammed with pun­ters, hip­py flow­ers cov­er the walls, and giant mush­rooms hang like men­ac­ing octo­pus­es from the ceil­ing to the floor. The visu­als are stun­ning – ethe­re­al, dreamy images through Army cam­ou­flage netting.

Mental Elf, The Trades 2012
Men­tal Elf, The Trades 2012. Pho­to: Tes­sa Gordziejko

It’s not the first time The Trades has cel­e­brat­ed New Year with Men­tal Elf col­lec­tive. The DJs are reg­u­lars on The Trades cir­cuit: Scott (Hub), Dillinger P – this was a bring­ing togeth­er of DJs from more spe­cif­ic nights. The mix of dif­fer­ent gen­res: reg­gae, psy­trance, tech­no, cre­ate a great New Year par­ty mix. The recent­ly installed pow­er­ful sound sys­tem fills the room. High­light of the evening is Heb­den-based group Tetchi, with a female vocal­ist who I haven’t seen before – their sin­u­ous, ambi­ent beats and psy­che­del­ic grooves build­ing and weav­ing a com­plex narrative.

Right now The Trades has very much got its act togeth­er. Pat­ti Smith, per­form­ing last year as the floods raged, has giv­en much sup­port and con­se­quent­ly helped raised the club’s pro­file. There’s that new improved PA. And the new man­age­ment are direct­ing and fash­ion­ing a pro­gramme of both emerg­ing and estab­lished artists which is feel­ing very zeit­geisty. Through improved mar­ket­ing and social media – and NME’s ‘small venue’ nom­i­na­tion – the club’s rep is spread­ing fur­ther. I would rec­om­mend see­ing artists you like at The Trades, but step on it, or you’ll find the tick­ets are gone in record time.

The Trades, Heb­den Bridge

2 thoughts on “Mental Elf – New Year at Hebden Bridge Trades Club

    1. I think they are pre­pared to take some risks, mix­ing that with musi­cians who are old favourites. It seems every­thing is sell­ing out fast at the moment.

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