Back Street nightclub Quadrant Park, which introduced Merseyside to house music and “gave birth to Cream”.


Hugh Baird’s students had harassed their tutor, Mike Knowler, by hosting a party for them at Christmas 1989. They knew that Mike was a top DJ at the state nightclub in downtown Liverpool and wanted to throw a big night out.

A Christmas party for students at Hugh Baird College led to a bootle snooker hall becoming one of the first over-clubs in town.

Bootle’s Quadrant Park hosted some of the first legal raves in Merseyside.

They quickly asked Mike to host the same event every Thursday, and the Southport DJ soon began playing house music in front of thousands of people.

The success attracted clubbers from all over the country and the quad became a rival to the world famous Manchester Hacienda.

Unfortunately, the state was about to close down, so Mike asked the owner of the Quadrant Park Bootle Club if he could help. Jim Spencer, the then owner of the club, agreed.

At that time, Quadrant Park was a “Sharon and Tracy” club in that it played commercial music for a mainstream audience. But that was about to change.

Mike Knowler’s Christmas party for his students attracted over 1,000 people, to the disbelief of club management.

And then the club used the 24-hour license of its snooker hall to host legal all-night raves that soon became folklore. On weekends, the club attracted students, bachelorette parties, soccer players, villains and gangsters near Derby Road.

In December 2016, Mike spoke to Echo about how a Christmas party has helped change the history of dance music in Liverpool.

So I got in touch with Jim Spencer, who owned Quadrant Park on Derby Road in Bootle. He agreed to host the college’s Christmas party in 1989 and we decided to put the night out in Echo. I agreed to DJ and play house music that night. On a Thursday night over 1,300 people came to the club.

He said: “In the late 1980s I was a lecturer at Hugh Baird College and on weekends I was a DJ at the state nightclub in downtown Liverpool. Some of my students wanted me to host a Christmas party for them at the State. The only problem was that the club was about to close.

The manager of the club asked me to play house DJ every Thursday night and we managed to attract huge crowds every week. Jim then asked me to play on a Friday as well, and in the end we had 2,000 visitors a night. The owner then asked me to start with three nights a week from Thursday to Saturday.

The club now attracted around 2,500 people and attracted clubbers from all over the country. Mike told ECHO how the Quadrant Park snooker club helped to host one of the first legal all-night raves in the country.

He said, “Quadrant Park had a snooker club that not many people knew about, with a 24-hour license. I think it was mainly used by local shift workers. So the owners decided to use that license to host all the night owls in the club’s pavilion area. I suppose it was a small loophole, but it was all above the law.

“The all-night raves ran for 44 weeks from November 1990 to August 1991.

Although the quad no longer had to accommodate all the night owls, it continued to flourish as a home music venue.

said Mike: “I remember first hearing about house music in the 1980s at the New York New Music Seminar. A black musician from Chicago asked me if we played house music in the UK. I said, “What is this?” and he said it was like New Order meets Philly Soul. He wrote down the names of some house music titles and I bought them in a record store. That was it for me.

“Unfortunately, the authorities soon discovered that non-members were being let in, and the club lost its all-night license”.


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