New rock club opens in Leeds to follow in The Cockpit’s footsteps

Director of Slam Dunk, Ben Ray, at The Key Club.
Director of Slam Dunk, Ben Ray, at The Key Club.
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THE PEOPLE behind legendary music venue The Cockpit are launching a brand new club in Leeds city centre.

Just weeks after the much-loved Cockpit closed for good after 20 years in business, The Key Club has opened its doors.

The 2,600sq ft club claims to be the city’s first dedicated rock music venue and will host live gigs and some of the iconic clubnights that were previously held at The CockPit.

The club takes over the former Beat Bar site on Merrion Street and is run by Slam Dunk – the sister company of Futuresound Events, which ran The Cockpit up until its demise.

Slam Dunk director Ben Ray is also acting as general manager of The Key Club.

He said: “The Cockpit was an all-round music venue, with two main types of music – indie and rock.

“I ran all the rock gigs at The Cockpit and the rock clubnights, which will now come here.

“The Key Club will be the first pure rock venue in Leeds.

“The sound system we have put in here is absolutely ridiculous and one of the best in the country for a small venue.

“We want to become the home of rock music in Leeds and ultimately become one of the best small music venues in the country.”

Meanwhile, the indie gigs scheduled for The Cockpit are being moved to The Wardrobe, which is also run by Futuresound.

Ben added: “The Merrion Centre is the perfect location for us. This part of the city is rapidly growing and we are now in close proximity to other live venues where we regularly promote gigs, such as the O2 Academy, Leeds Met Student Union and Leeds University.

“With the addition of Leeds’ First Direct Arena and recent bar openings at the Merrion Centre, it made sense for us to be a part of this development.”

The new club has a 10 year lease with Town Centre Securities and has created 15 jobs. To kick off its opening week, it will host the Ignite clubnight on Friday, September 26 and The Garage on Saturday, September 27.

Helen Green, associate director of estates for Town Centre Securities, said: “The Arena Quarter is becoming a real hive of activity and a sought after destination.

“We’re delighted to be hosting another club venue within the Merrion Centre.”