Looking back at 50 years of Aquarius nightclub popular with revellers from Sheffield and Chesterfield

Did you know it was 50 years this year since one of the region’s most renowned cabaret clubs opened its doors for the first time?
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Chesterfield’s legendary Aquarius unveiled in 1972 to huge press and public acclaim.

The Spanish-themed Sheffield Road venue came on the back of the cabaret craze that swept the country in the 1960s.

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It arrived just two years after Sheffield’s sprawling Fiesta that opened in the summer of 1970 – the glitzy Arundel Gate venue was then the biggest nightspot in the whole of Europe.

Aquarius 1980s revellersAquarius 1980s revellers
Aquarius 1980s revellers

The Aquarius outlasted the majority of the region’s cabaret clubs as it managed to move with the times. It devoted a large part of the venue to a disco – something that became its mainstay in the 1980s and early 1990s until it finally shut its doors.

Chesterfield’s Aquarius was an instant hit. Overnight it became the focal point for works outings, hen nights, stag nights, Christmas parties – everything happened at the venue.

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It survived the miner’s strike – apparently the house band were asked to turn their hand to decorating the club to help save money – and the Winter of Discontent.

Dress to impress at the Aquarius Nightclub in the 1970sDress to impress at the Aquarius Nightclub in the 1970s
Dress to impress at the Aquarius Nightclub in the 1970s

It was the changing face of entertainment that became the death knell for Aquarius.

The clubbing explosion of the mid-1990s saw off many venues and the Aquarius finally called it a day – it reopened as the Gate dance club but its days were numbered even then.

Now the Dirty Stop Outs – with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund – are working on a two year project to create a legacy to the nightspot that once gave famed British duo Cannon & Ball their first ever star billing.

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They are inviting former staff, performers and club-goers to attend regular two-hour drop-in sessions at the Parish Centre on Sheffield Road in Chesterfield.

They are keen to meet anyone wanting to share their stories and memories.

They are also wanting people to get involved with the project in a volunteer capacity and learn new skills.

The events are set to take place on the following Fridays – September 16, October 28, and November 18.

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Many of the memories will feature in a forthcoming book on the Aquarius that will be compiled as part of the project.

By the 1980s the Aquarius was arguably more popular for its nightclub which enjoyed packed houses every weekend for much of the era with coaches turning up from right around the region.

Neil Anderson of the Dirty Stop Outs said: “This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Aquarius and we’re keen to celebrate its importance down the years.

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It was a focal point for generations of local people and we want to capture the incredible memories.”

The Parish Centre is situated at 91 Sheffield Rd, Chesterfield S41 7JH.

Content supplied by Neil Anderson.