Monday, 1 August 2011

Controversy in Yorkshire as "Religion" nightclub opens in Wakefield

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Back in my home town, we used to have a nightclub named "Heaven and Hell". As you might expect, it was a venue that only lived up to half of its name. It had three rooms, "Heaven", "Hell" and "Purgatory", the latter included, I would guess, only because the previous club to be housed in the premises, "Utopia" (the proprietors of such venues seemingly believe that transcendence is what the average provincial club-goer strives for), had also consisted of three rooms.

I can't be totally sure, but I don't recall anyone ever complaining about the name of Heaven and Hell. Of course, it's possible that his was because people were more preoccupied with the other reasons to be outraged at the club, such as the drug-use, under-age binge drinking and casual violence. But perhaps it was because the early-2000s, when Heaven and Hell was the place to be in our particular corner of post-industrial Lancashire, were simpler times.

For now, across the Pennines, controversy has broken out in Wakefield over the opening of a nightclub named "Religion", which plans to nights with names like "Friday Salvation" and "Monday Mass". Some of the town's residents, reports the Yorkshire Post, are outraged, and the Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten has weighed in on the issue:
“Some of the names of the events are insensitive and inappropriate. Religion is about taking life seriously. Would people have been amused if they’d called it health, which is an equally serious topic, and named some of the rooms A&E and gynaecology? If any other aspect of people’s lives was taken and trivialised in this way I think people would be upset. In particular, in this case, it affects Christian people.”
Of course, you could argue that the Bishop's words suggest religion is about taking life too seriously (or devising bizarre analogies, for that matter). And his arguments certainly don't wash with the club's owners, Leisure 99, who defended their new venue's name:
“The definition of the word religion is a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion, which is what partygoers in the city are doing. We chose the term Resurrection for a Friday night, because the night-time economy’s suffering and we’re hoping to revive and revitalise it, as its definition suggests. The same is true of Salvation, and the word Mass was chosen because it’s a massive Monday night of massive music.”
While it's tempting to end this post by complimenting the unassailable rationale behind "Monday Mass", it's worth noting that some of those objecting to the club have suggested that the owners would not have dared co-opt Muslim terms in such sacrilegious fashion. Indeed, while defending the rights of the club owners to commit blasphemy, Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance pointed out to the Yorkshire Post "the club might be living under police protection had they been promoting club nights called Jihad or Ramadan".

Perhaps so. But thinking back to some of the incidents I witnessed in the halcyon days of Heaven and Hell, I have to say that "Jihad" might have been an entirely appropriate name for a night at that particular venue.
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