Code nightclub, Hull
Reviewed by Rory Stobo
Rock clubs and bars are wily beasts to master. Unlike more conventional spots which can be expected, deservedly so in the majority of cases, to be a bit more fly-by-night, those of us who like our beer with breakfast have come to expect a little more in the way of stability. New venues offering us new and exciting opportunities to wear black clothes and dance to Bohemian Rhapsody (Every. Single. Time.) come across the same problematic questions every time. Why is this new place any better than where I've spent my weekends for the past eight years, any why should I care?
It was always going to be with a little trepidation that I made my way over to Code for the first time, the week after it's grand opening night which had, by all accounts, gone quite well. Located in what used to be, I am told, a gay bar, nicely taking care of all your Judas Priest jokes, Code is far better situated for the hum-drum task of actually reaching the place than it's established rival, Spiders. You really get the feeling that there's been a fair amount of rather shrewd thought put into the location of the place. Not only is it clinging lovingly onto the bus interchange itself, it nestles snug in a bug in a rug behind, wait for it, a 24-hour Tesco. So much for your ill-concieved kebab at 3am, just stroll on in and pick yourself up some bruschetta and fine cheeses. Every little helps.
Once you get into Code, three fifty lighter and with a free drink in hand if you're a new member, you get a chance to take in the ambiance and have a scout around. The first of the club's two rooms, both on the ground floor, I explored was what I had introduced to me as the 'chillout lounge.' In a lesser club, this might suggest some kind of RnB nightmare, but here you're treated to comfortable chairs and the sound of guitar hero blasting out at varying degrees of competency from the Wii console set up on a five-foot projector in the corner. The welcome suspicion creeps in that Code cares, in the same way that Spiders used to care, before it's complacency drove most of it's DJs to jump ship and work here. Strolling into the main room only reinforces this, I won't bore you with a playlist, but suffice to say that the music policy at Code is driven by the clubgoers, not the management, and this earns big points in a social setting where it's all to easy to play the floor-fillers and quickly become stale. Ample dancefloor room, a pool table and arcade machines that actually work make this a place that really grabs the attention. Code has a very good idea of why you should care, and wishes to let you know.
The first snag in the evening comes when it's time to refill my drink. The bar staff will be more than happy to sell you a house spirit and mixer for one of your english pounds, but if your hand favours the pint glass, it's probably best to take out a mortgage first. Far be it from me to get ratarsed on gin in the name of investigative journalism, so I could tell it was going to be an expensive night. Thankfully, in an almost apologetic move, one of the bar staff routinely wander the club with a large bottle of what I suspect had tabasco sauce in it, topping up drinks hither and yon. It's the gesture that's appreciated rather than the liquor itself, but you do get the impression Code are clutching at straws when it comes to the actual drinks they serve. Spiders' cocktail list is infamous up and down the country, and it's a shame that Code couldn't have thought up at least a few to make them sweat for this victory.
Overall though, Code acquits itself well in a scene which has long struggled to rebuild credibility through variety. Okay, as I mentioned the drinks are a bit pricey if you insist on sticking to pints, and the problem with playing what people request is that sometimes people request awful songs. But, when the Spiders alternative nowadays is to drink twenty pounds worth of meths and listen to sweet home Alabama on repeat for three hours in the company of fourteen year olds, I honestly believe the odd doom metal track and a couple of pints less is a fair price to pay for progress.