The Dorchester

Not the hotel, the night club. Whether you have heard of it will depend largely on whether you lived in Wolverhampton, at a certain point in time, and liked indie music. It wasn’t internationally renowned.

But what a certain point in time it was. This was before Oasis came along and changed the definition of the word ‘indie’ from something largely accepted as meaning ‘anything released on an independent record label except (I guess) the Stock Aitken Waterman stuff’ to ‘bands that sound a bit like Oasis, but aren’t quite as good.’

I should point out that I’m not saying that Oasis were bad, but that they (and the wave of bands that followed them) were not exactly good to dance to. Clubs are for dancing. You can’t dance to Roll With It. You can’t dance to Driftwood. You can’t dance to A Thousand Trees. You can’t. You can stand drunkenly on a dance floor and sway back and forth spilling John Smith’s bitter, but you can’t dance.

Those few years before all that post-Oasis dad rock came along though, blimey. At the Dorchester you could dance, and it was good. Beastie Boys, Beck, Body Count, Faith No More, Pulp, The Prodigy, loads of stuff I can’t remember. But you danced to all of it and they never played Cast because Cast didn’t exist yet.

And when you weren’t dancing, when you needed to get your breath back, you got a Solero from the ice cream machine. Or you went to the cafe that was behind the bar, for some reason. A full greasy spoon cafe, in a night club. That’s the West Midlands for you I guess. I think there was a sweet shop in there somewhere as well. I stuck to Soleros so I can’t confirm that.

The Dorchester was in many ways the perfect nightclub and yet, it always seemed to be on the verge of bankruptcy. When it finally went under the Civic ran an indie night. Oasis followed by Travis followed by Ocean Colour Scene. Boys stood on the dance floor. They swayed. They spilled their bitter. It was always packed. Maybe people don’t really like dancing.

We still went but wasn’t the same, not really. They would play good stuff before the crowds turned up if you asked nicely but that isn’t exactly a perfect night out. There weren’t any Soleros.