Le Phonographique
The Phono
AddressMerrion Centre, Leeds, U.K.
Coordinates53°48′07″N 1°32′40″W / 53.80194°N 1.54444°W / 53.80194; -1.54444

Le Phonographique (often called the Phono, and later renamed to Bar Phono)[2] was a gothic nightclub located underneath the Merrion Centre in Leeds.[3] Founded under the name the WigWam club, the venue's 1979 rebranding led to it becoming a location frequented by members of both the local post-punk and New Romantic scenes. Here, the two scenes collided and created the earliest phase of the goth subculture.[4] It was the first goth club in the world,[5] opening in 1979 and eventually closing in 2005. Disc jockeys at the club, such as Marc Almond (a member of Soft Cell),[6] Anni Hogan (a member of Marc and the Mambas)[7] and Claire Shearsby (previously of the F Club),[8] would play gothic rock and dark wave music.[9]


The WigWam Club was renamed to Le Phonographique in 1979.[10] Soon after this name change, it was bought by twins John and Alan Baker, who, along with DJs Jim Bates and Anni Hogan, began catering it to a subcultural audience.[11] In 1985, the Clash played an impromptu gig at the venue while attending.[12] In 1987, it was sold to Geoff Lawrence, however after financial difficulties, the club was closed in 1991. During this time, its major club nights were moved to Ricky’s nightclub on Merrion Street, while a number of its other nights began taking place in various venues across the city. The club reopened in 1993, now marketing itself towards a mainstream audience under the name Ashfields. Here, DJ Mixmaster Stilton and promoter Rich K began an indie rock and alternative rock night called Melt on Tuesdays, which recaptured the venue's subcultural clientele, soon becoming its most frequented night. The club was sold again 1994, changing its name to Rio's, with its alternative night continuing on Saturdays. DJ Mixmaster Stilton, Rich K and a number of others purchased the club the following year, returning its name to Le Phonographique and reorganising to the way it had been in the 1980s In December 1998 it was bought by DJ Geoff, who renamed it to Bar Phono.[11] While under this name, there began a rivalry between it and the Bassment, another goth club, which was location around the corner in the Merrion Centre.[13] Bar Phono closed in 2005, claiming "redevelopment".[14][15] The site is now a retail storage unit.[15]


The club was foundational to the emergence of the goth subculture[16] by helping it differentiate itself from the conventions of punk.[17] The Sisters of Mercy song Floorshow was inspired by dances that were commonplace at the club.[2] In an article for Dazed, it was stated that the "two steps forward, two steps back" style of dancing originated at the club, due to the pillar in the centre of its dancefloor.[5]


  1. ^ Hutchinson, Andrew. "42 places you probably visited in Leeds during a night out in the 2000s". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b Ladouceur, Liisa. Encyclopedia Gothica.
  3. ^ Walsh, Tina. "Ten things you might not know about Leeds". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  4. ^ Stewart, Ethan. "How Leeds Led the Goth Scene". Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b Dawson, James. "Life as a goth in 1980s Yorkshire". Dazed. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. ^ "SUBCULTURE LOST & FOUND: LEEDS". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. ^ Robb, John. "A Goth life – from Bowie kid to leading Goth DJ – DJ Mark M on his life". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  8. ^ Haslam, Dave. Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues.
  9. ^ Spracklen, Karl; Spracklen, Beverley. The Evolution of Goth Culture: The Origins and Deeds of the New Goths. p. 49.
  10. ^ Stewart, Ethan. "How Leeds Led the Goth Scene". Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  11. ^ a b "A history of the Phono". Retrieved 8 May 2023.
  12. ^ "Sounds of the underground! Night of nostalgia for former regulars at Leeds's legendary Phono club". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  13. ^ Davies, Jonathan. "Mourning the loss". BBC. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Tuesday Ten: 220: Nightclubbing". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  15. ^ a b "5 Place That Made Leeds a Goth Culture Hub in the 1980s". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  16. ^ Fryer, George. "The History Of Music Venues In Leeds". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  17. ^ Goth in Leeds. BBC. 1987.