Lee Butler ‘Reopening the 051 is a monster job but there’s too much history to let it go’
3 months ago
DJ Lee Butler says reopening Liverpool’s legendary 051 nightclub has been a monster job, but there’s too much history behind it to let it go.
Lee and the team from Reminisce Festival and In Demand radio got the keys for the iconic Mount Pleasant club back in February.
They’ve spent over five months battling with years of neglect and the elements to bring it back to life.
It’s been such a massive task that the opening date has been pushed back from August to September, but Lee says the reaction from ex-051 regulars has been phenomenal.
The first release of tickets goes on sale tonight (Fri) at 7pm via email to the thousands of clubbers who registered to get first access.
“The response has been incredible, we’ve literally had tens of thousands of people register for tickets,” he says. “We’re expecting September 23 to sell out straight away then we’ll announce more dates instantly.
“The first ones will be over 30s, because we’re trying our best to make sure the people who went before get a chance to go, and we’ll bring back all the original DJs for those. Then we’ll start doing over-18s next generation nights as well, booking new DJs and some big acts.”
After DJing himself there for a decade, from 1996 to when it closed in 2006, Lee has been trying to resurrect the 051 for a long time without success.
“I was there for 10 years so it’s got a special place for me. There aren’t many of Liverpool’s iconic nightclubs still here – Quadrant Park’s knocked down, Paradox is knocked down, Cream’s knocked down, the Buzz club’s knocked down – but you’ve got one that’s got such a lot of history, still standing there.
“I’ve tried for so long to do something and never ever been able to get anywhere, it’s been so frustrating. This time we managed to get into negotiations with the local property agent, he was then liaising with the owner and there came about a possibility of a short-term deal on it so I said that was all we wanted.
“He told us there’d been fires and it was ruined but the actual club itself as in the basement so the fires hadn’t affected it. We managed to get the keys and assess it and decided to take a gamble on it.”
Lee admits the club was in a far worse condition than he’d expected, but he couldn’t turn his back on the project.
“When we first got in there it was incredibly daunting, but it’s got too much history not to do it, and the link between myself and this club, there aren’t that many opportunities to do something where there’s that massive passion.
“It’s a monster job, it’s been flooded about five times, it’s been four-foot high in water – we couldn’t even get the place dry for two months. It had been vandalised terribly, it was an absolute mess, it was rotten and it was leaking from all the ceilings. Every time we managed to dry it out we’d have torrential rain and it was just flooded, flooded, flooded to the point where we were just going to pass it back.
“But we’ve got a great team of people who are passionate about the place so we found a way and as soon as we got it dry, and we could keep it dry, then we were in a position to start looking at the building.
“There’s no water, it needs brand new plumbing, a full rewire, mains, everything you can think of needs fixing or replacing. It’s just wrecked but it’s still basically exactly how it always was – the balcony’s still there, the stage is still there, the second room’s still there.
“It’s like a big underground bunker underground. It’s never been a plush venue, so we just needed to get it clean and get it safe and if we can do Reminisce and put a festival on in a field with no electricity and no water then we can sort the 051 out.”
The team have got the club for two years and Lee has big plans for it.
“It won’t be open weekly, but hopefully if we can get it right we’re looking at opening the whole of the top floor balcony for weddings or birthdays and we want to open it up to outside promoters to come in for things like boxing events and live music.
“Getting it open again will be amazing and I’m really looking forward to it,” he adds. “I think it’s good for the city as well, because it’s generating work and there’s an excitement aound it. There aren’t really any clubs left in Liverpool, most in town are really just glammed up bars, but this is a proper proper nightclub.”
Book tickets for the 051 reopening HERE.
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