Juliette Bains: Inside knowledge lifts lid on issues with city’s nightlife

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PROPPING UP a friend and fellow student outside Tiger Tiger while trying to ensure he didn’t throw up on my hair or shoes wasn’t the best introduction to Leeds nightlife.

But it was a memorable one, and an experience that kicked off an eventful first few years up north.

For students new to the city like me, there seemed to be a fairly standard route that your partying lifestyle would take over the years, as you vaguely tried to fit some studying around nights out.

For the majority of your first year, you’d either be shamefully bopping the night away to the Ghostbusters theme tune at Fruity in the student union or having a boogie with a radioactive-looking alcopop in hand at places like Gatecrasher, Nu Bar or Evolution.

Things were more civilised in second year – cocktails at Mook, perhaps, before throwing some shapes in Space.

But third year was when you all ‘grow up’ and brave Call Lane, where all the older, cooler kids would hang out.

There was a definite path, and if you strayed from it or graduated to Call Lane too soon, you’d feel like the kid that no-one invited to their birthday party, but who still turned up.

Nonetheless, I was always proud to end up in a city with a seemingly rock solid, buzzing nightlife.

There’s no denying the names on the scene have changed a lot over the years, and most of those I’ve mentioned don’t even exist any more.

We’ve waved goodbye to places like Majestyk, Oceana, OK Karaoke, Baja and Bed.

Yes, most of them had questionable odours and trademark sticky carpets, but they hold treasured memories for many.

Who could forget Baja’s giant, fibreglass shark that dangled threateningly over the dancefloor?

And people who beat me to Leeds by a few years are always rattling on about the tropical temperatures and mind-boggling drinks offers at the late Heaven and Hell.

But no sooner does one of these venues drop off the scene than a wave of bars and clubs move in to take its place.

I’d always thought having a bit of turnover in terms of new replacing old was a sign that clubs and bars were evolving.

The past year or so has seen some great new names join the ranks and on the face of it, business always seems to be booming.

After all, at weekends you often find yourself queueing outside clubs just to get in, let alone to the bar.

But after a conversation with someone who knows much more about it than me, I realised just how fragile the industry is.

My friend has worked at various Leeds club nights for years and, according to her, a lot of the bars you might be fighting to get into on weekends have very little trade during the week.

Plus, she says, with tuition fees going up to around £9,000 per year, university has become something that only certain well-to-do types can afford, meaning there’s a lack of subcultures and diversity in the Leeds nightlife scene nowadays.

It’s something I hadn’t thought about before, but there must be a reason why so many big night out names from the past haven’t stood the test of time.

Leeds has always had something for everyone – from hardcore ravers to head-banging rockers.

So it’s worrying to think that might not be the case any more.

In a selfless act of support I now vow to go out as much as possible – to do my bit for the Leeds economy of course.

So if you see me shimmying across the dancefloor or socialising in bars at all times of the day, just know that it’s all for a good cause.

Interesting experiment offers insight into animal instinct

You hear all kinds of excuses for people cheating on their partners.

From just plain boredom to foolish alcohol-fuelled decisions, the list goes on and on.

But scientists in America seem to think the latter may not be an issue that only us humans suffer from.

Across the pond, an experiment involving prairie voles has proved rather interesting.

OK, you might not think you have much in common with a vole, but bear with me.

Apparently the little animals have long been a lab model for such studies because, much like us, they are ‘socially monogamous’ and will stick with just one partner for the most of their lives.

Awww.

In their latest experiment, scientists stuck the prairie voles in a lab and let them search for a suitable partner before supplying them with some alcohol.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after being plied with booze, the male voles in the study often chose to spend time with a stranger instead of their partners.

In contrast, the majority of females wanted more ‘huddling time’ – behaviour that can signal commitment.

I’ve always thought a crowded club can seem a bit like animal kingdom, with huge gorilla-type men puffing out their chests and gaggles of girls preening each other non-stop throughout the night.

And now scientists seem to have proved that, when we’re a bit worse for wear at least, we’re closer to our furry compatriots than we might realise.

Happy end after creepy crawly leads to a dinner disaster

You might remember that a few weeks ago, a caterpillar came to a sudden and sad end during my attempt to cook a posh meal.

Pedro, as we named him, lost his life after smuggling his way into a bag of tenderstem broccoli.

I’m sure it wasn’t the ending he’d envisaged for himself, nor was it mine.

I’d spent hours in the kitchen making a slap-up meal of Beef Wellington, plus various vegetable accompaniments.

It was then that poor Pedro popped his clogs.

As I boiled the veg, I had no idea the critter was hidden among the florets.

Luckily, the meal I served for the boyfriend was fine.

But Pedro was scooped onto my spoon in a sea of gravy, and it was only when I chewed upon his rubbery carcass I realised something was wrong.

Now, after weeks of waiting, I’m glad to say Pedro’s death wasn’t in vain. After complaining to the supermarket, and sending off the caterpillar carcass in a very undignified envelope, I was given a £25 voucher.

I’m sure it’s what he would have wanted.

Sarah Champion MP

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