A Preston night in flames

Posted on - 17th August, 2010 - 10:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Music, Nightlife, Recreation, Things to Do in and around Preston

Lava and Ignite Wednesday is considered by most to be the most popular student night in Preston. Dan Birch spoke to the director of the club, the man largely responsible for bringing you the nightlife of Preston that we know today.


When you think of the nightlife that shapes the city of Preston, the masses think of one word – Lava. It is true that this nightclub continues to dominate the night scene in the town but what do we really know? Talking to the club director Andy Macdonald, there were many interesting remarks and discussion about what goes about bringing a night of today to Preston.

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A former student in Preston himself, Macdonald is the director of YBD Club which works with three bars, Assembly, Academy and Wall Street plus two nightclubs, Squires and Lava. That’s right – FIVE venues. Forget your independent clubs, Warehouse and the former rave barn, Method. This proves the domination that a single organisation can have on a medium sized city in this country today.

From a business scale, this domination has led to reaping benefits for the clubs and bars on the high streets of Preston, particularly during the week. When the student’s aren’t there, then business inevitably goes away for a while.

What is the secret? Probably Macdonald’s experiences at University. “I was a big socialite at Uni. I was always very critical. I’d buy a queue jump for 53 (UCLAN Venue) and said you’d have to be there by a certain time” he said. “I thought I’m going to put a club together to fix these mistakes”.


Having taken a management degree, the blonde haired Scotsman saw the mistakes that needed to be ironed out. “It was also a commercial market. It needed tweaking. I approached big clubs and management. When I first started, David Beveridge was your man, I said ‘I can promote your club’”.

Ironing out the mistakes, the chain of Lava and Ignite has since become known for what it is, playing commercial chart music and providing a venue for the end of a night what usually starts at Assembly, the den of cheap drinks. Monday and Wednesday nights are the time and occasion for this. For weekenders, Lava is officially known as the big Saturday night out, as mentioned in the Lancashire Evening Post listings.

The price offers at Assembly for drinks at 75p for a mixture of vodka and beers is a sign of the confidence that the organisation has taken, but the recent advent of pre-drinking at flats and houses for young people alike has taken a huge toll on the bar business. “What that means is nightlife will deteriorate” according to Macdonald. However the 75p drinks are still booming business. “I think it doesn’t matter what price you charge. If the price is not right then students will still drink. When you put a price on 75p, they can enjoy nights out. It applies to students because they have no income. Tuition fees are up. Student’s don’t have same cash”.

There is no doubt the drinks from Assembly have helped to engage an atmosphere of flames which not surprisingly trickle through right to Lava, but what about it’s musical reputation? Are students who don’t necessary want to drink and party on wanting to come to a place that offers a taste for their kind of music?

Lava and Ignite are owned by Luminar who are the biggest nightlife entertainment industry in Britain today. The company came at a time when they felt that money was being lost on superstar DJs or indeed the advent of super clubs boomed out of the original rave scene. In came a funkier, trendier image with the emphasis being placed on having a dance, pulling then going home.

Macdonald says: “Commercial adapts to masses. Anything else is for more individual people. What are the chances we will be able to get 2,000 people coming to listen to House Music? Very slim”. This is possibly true but this is an answer that certainly proves it is all about business.

Macdonald says that he is happy to target students and the public and has promised more hardcore and even drum and base nights following on from a mixture of different promotional nights coming to the club. It is a fair credit with the likes of Calvin Harris, The Automatic and even a boxing match coming down to the huge venue.

But for the readers here at Blog Preston, what is your opinion? Do you feel the drinks prices lead to one too many, as we say? Is it a central part of a night out for you in Preston?

Is Business everything in the clubbing world? Is the nightlife dominated by this club captivating? Get your answers in and I can assure you there will be more stories on the other zones of nightlife in Preston.

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