‘Intimate’ Liverpool nightclub that was ‘off the beaten track’
An “intimate” Liverpool nightclub that was “off the beaten track” attracted clubbers with its eclectic music scene for years.
When you think back to Liverpool nightlife in the 70s and 80s, Michelle Claire’s will likely be one of the clubs that spring to mind. Located on North Street, by the Dale Street flyover, it was known for its Bowie/New Wave nights, Punk nights and live music.
Out of the way from the main thoroughfare of nightclubs at the time, it was a place were people could be themselves and enjoy music and fashion from likeminded clubbers. The venue had bars, a DJ booth and space to dance, but also served food to customers.
Ian McMullen, from Knotty Ash, first went to Michelle Claire’s aged 18 in 1979 and later became a regular DJ there. He told the ECHO: “I first went there with a school friend of mine, a guy named Ronnie, from Dovecot.
“He used to go out clubbing and I didn’t really and said to me why don’t you come with me to this place, give it a try, you might like the music. I remember going there and thought it was an unusual place but I quite liked it.
“It was really relaxed in there, it didn’t really matter how you were dressed. There were Punks in there, people from the fledgling New Romantics scene, New Wave.
“The DJ when we first started going was a lady called Mandy and she had a bit of a Bowie haircut. The people were really friendly in there.”
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Whilst at college in Croxteth, Ian and a friend on his course saw the club was looking for a DJ and initially did it together and split the money before doing alternate nights every week on Friday’s and Saturday’s. He said he also remember the club manager Dave and how he would bring his own records to play at Michelle Claire’s.
Ian said: “I took some of my own records there. There used to be quite eclectic music in there, the Punks were after a bit more heavy stuff, whereas the newer people going in were after Bowie, Duran Duran had just come out and Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer was a really popular song in there.
“I bought a few records from Probe and I used to take them down there to play. One of the guys from Kraftwerk came in one night after playing a gig and he didn’t stay long because he didn’t speak any English, so I think he found it rather confusing.”
A Liverpool ECHO advert from July 1981 said Michelle Claire’s played New Wave music on Thursday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s. On a Friday night at the time, an electric romantic special party night was hosted with a half price drinks hours, free raffle and free supper and it cost members 25p and guests 50p.
Ian used to frequent Cagneys when he wasn’t DJ’ing at Michelle Claire’s and said the North Street club was small and intimate in comparison. He said: “It wasn’t anything like Cagneys at all.
“Where Cagneys was all the glitz and the glamour, Michelle Claire’s dancefloor was in the basement. It was dark and dingy and it wasn’t unclean, but you’d look around and think wow what’s going on here.
“There was a bar down there and a few seats and on the ground floor there was another bar. I think upstairs they were doing food and there was an area where they could cook, with a bar up there and a pool table.”
Ian said the the likes of Bowie, Japan and Lou Reed were often played at the club and that he also got into trouble once for playing Motorhead at the request of one of the customers. From the outside, Ian said most people wouldn’t have initially spotted the club.
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He said: “There wasn’t neon signs saying come in here. You had to know where it was.
“It was off the beaten track, unless you were in the know you wouldn’t have got in there. It wasn’t on a regular thoroughfare to attract anyone.
“I think the nearest pub to it was a Yates.’ On that end of Dale Street there was nothing else there so when you used to come out in the night you might get lucky and get a cab coming down Scotland Road or in my case I’d be walking on London Road heading out of town and you had less hassle.”
Michelle Claire’s is believed to have officially closed in the early 1980s. Ian said he remembers the venue shutting to renew its drink licence, but said weeks later it did not reopen.
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Ian said: “I think the ones who went there will remember it fondly. It was a good place to go and hang out, the music was good and you could get up and have a dance on your own – nobody really cared.
“My favourite memories are of the music and the people and having a good time in there without being worried about anything. It was just a relaxed atmosphere and the people were really cool.‘You could go there to be with people who shared your same taste in music and just have a good time.”
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