I got a really warm welcome at The Crescent even though Bob, who I was supposed to be meeting, wasn’t able to make it (something about an Uber incident in Leeds, I think…).
Harkirit offered coffee and apologies and explained that the group who were wandering round were a local charity who are going to be using the venue for a filming project.
Even though officially closed (it was 1 in the afternoon), there was a real nice buzz about the place. It felt like a great community space… And that is exactly what it is.
I come here for gigs and the odd club night pretty regularly. It’s always friendly, the sound is spot on and the roster of bands coming through is of a real high calibre.
In fact, I will often take a punt if someone like Please Please Me are promoting, because their great music taste means they have already done the research for me, and consequently I have never seen a bad gig here (and there is a great selection of beers too, by the way).
But what I didn’t realise is everything else that goes on here.
Just to make it clear The Crescent used to be a Working Men’s Club, but for the last two and a half years it has been run by brothers Bob and Ed Leyland as The Crescent Community Venue.
Bob and Ed used to DJ and put on gigs around the city and when they heard the club might be sold to Developers, they stepped in with an offer to actually take over the place.
With great support from the locals, they were determined to put on decent gigs, good club nights, play some old school pub and retro games and create a haven for people from all walks of life to relax, drink, socialise and feel part of something.
So beyond the bar – which also has some serious DJ decks for people to use and a big Wii space – there is a brilliant games room. Pool, darts, bar billiards and table football sit alongside board games, a well stocked shelf of books, sofas and some old school computers for retro gaming.
And it may not be a Working Men’s Club any more, but the dominoes and darts team from those days still have their home here and play every week. I like that.
There’s a regular open decks night where budding DJs (and actual DJs) come with their vinyl, CDs and USB sticks. Everyone gets a half hour slot or so and you end up with an eclectic mix of people and music from reggae to drum and base.
So this is very much a bar and community space as well as a venue – open from 4pm every weekday and at midday during the weekend (closing at midnight). It really has a tonne of stuff going on.
The guys running it are passionate about their local community, seeing different generations enjoying stuff together.
With many of the city’s original Working Men’s Club’s closing (Promenade Club off Bishy Road closed in 2005, followed by Groves WMC in 2006. Marygate’s Post Office Club had it’s last night recently before being turned into housing, and Tramways Club is losing its entertainment room) and with isolation and lack of social interaction being such a problem throughout every UK city, it is heartening that The Crescent didn’t go the same way and in fact re-opened it’s doors, and appeal, to everyone.
And York may be The Times’ ‘Best City to live in’, but without a locals bar, real venues and community spaces, it really is just a city for tourists. So guys, let’s use The Crescent to its full potential.
Main Photo courtesy of York Press: Nigel Holland