Clubbing Capital: Bristol, UK

by Akhil Kalepu

Mar 24, 2015

© Bala Sivakumar | Flickr

Spring Break

You might have not heard of Bristol, but you’ve definitely been touched by its sound. Known for its underground arts scene, Bristol’s culture is deeply intertwined with the socio-economic landscape of the city and has become a stronghold for dubstep, trip-hop and drum n bass. Notable residents include Massive Attack, Way Out West, Roni Size, Portishead and even Banksy, who has gone on to produce album art for several Bristolian musicians. If you care to experience the slightly darker side of UK clubbing, here are a few places to check out.


Motion club bar nightclub dj dance, Bristol, United Kingdom © Sirenz Lorraine | Flickr

Motion © Sirenz Lorraine | Flickr



Constantly voted as one of the best clubs in the world, Motion was formerly a skatepark hidden in an industrial park behind Temple Meads station. The complex is a network of indoor and outdoor spaces that play host to a variety of clubbing institutions, ranging from homegrown legends like Futureboogie to labels like Defected and Cocoon. Motion constantly tweaks and improves itself every year, and is popular for its In:Motion parties held in autumn, with nights for disco, house, techno, grime, drum n bass and hip-hop.



No stay in Bristol is complete without some bass, and Cosies is one of the best places for dark, intimate clubbing. By day, Cosies is a sophisticated wine bar, though once night falls the crowd starts to get more eccentric; a blend of 40-something professionals, students and dreadlocked clubbers. The venue is a tiny basement with a top-notch sound system and a laidback atmosphere. Being dark, smoky and crowded, this is the place to go for raw, authentic UK dubstep and drum n bass.


The Reaper by Banksy on Thekla club graffiti street art dance nightclub, Bristol, United Kingdom © Pjhpix | Dreamstime 22564556

The Grim Reaper of Thekla, by Banksy © Pjhpix | Dreamstime



The recently refurbished Thekla is located on a former timber vessel from Germany. In the 1980s, a cabaret group re-commissioned the boat as a theater and music venue, helping to nurture the local drum n bass scene and put on then-up-and-coming acts like Massive Attack and Portishead. In 2006, it was bought by the owners of Rock City in Nottingham, giving the venue a makeover and expanding into live musical performances. The boat is noted for featuring a Banksy piece on its side for more than a decade — his iconic rowing grim reaper. Although the harbor master made attempts to paint over it, much to the chagrin of Thekla’s owners and local clubbers, the work has recently been cut out for preservation and is to be put on display by the Bristol City Council.


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