In conversation with Mr and Mrs DJ Dave B (Owners of Jimmy Allen’s) – Palatinate

By Arjun Seth

It’s the place we can always go, whether as a large group or ticketless pair, Jimmy Allen’s is a mainstay of the Durham clubbing scene, and with its free promise of a lively night with cheesy tunes, the queue for entry is never short. I spoke to Jimmy’s owners, permanent DJ, Dave B, and his wife, Cheryl, about how they keep Durham’s most popular club open every night of the week.

I begin by asking the couple how they ended up taking over Jimmy’s, which to my horror, they reveal nearly shut down for good. “Jimmy’s shut for the holidays, as it used to in December 2019, and simply never re-opened after that,” tells Dave. “I remember coming in to meet the manager and seeing the place had been emptied out without warning. We had never planned on taking over but when we heard it was closing, we were very upset. I remember reading the outpour of anger on Facebook and deciding that we had to try whatever we could do to save the place. Within 24 hours, we contacted the landlord and luckily managed to sign before it had been handed to the agents. We re-opened 2 weeks later!”.

“God knows, it probably would have become Durham’s newest restaurant!” quips Cheryl.

We then go on to discuss the music. Whilst perhaps repetitive for some, Jimmy’s playlist of club classics remains popular and, according to Dave, is a hit every night. “It’s not the most modern music but it works every night. I’m not entirely sure why,” he jokes.

“I’m amazed people don’t get sick of hearing the same music”, adds Cheryl. “We are flooded with requests and messages to play the classics, but I am certainly tired of Taylor Swift!”

Within 24 hours, we contacted the landlord and luckily managed to sign before it had been handed to the agents

Taste in music evolves and, as Dave himself points out, he is not a young student anymore. As clubbers, we are always wondering why DJs play what they do, prompting me to ask how Dave adapts and updates the playlist over the year.

“I get sent music from record companies to promote in the club — around 100 a week. A lot of it is unsuitable as its not mainstream, but we do add a few to the favourites’ list. Recently, we’ve had ’21 Reasons’ and a song by David Guetta. Everybody always wants the old classics though; they are a staple of the party so will always remain important”

“I do try and delay ‘Love Story’ until as late as possible,” he jokes.

When asked about Jimmy’s identity, the couple are clear — “It’s an upbeat and happy place. We want it to be a welcoming, accessible place that people see and will always think is worth popping in, even just for one drink. It’s why we are free entry.”

Synonymous with Jimmy’s is its infamous drink, ‘the Woodgate’. After much speculation, I was keen to find out whether it is in fact named after the former Newcastle footballer, Jonathan Woodgate.

“It traces back to the 2000s and was intended to be an overstrength drink that would today be illegal — a quadruple vodka shot and a bottle of VK (before licensing laws changed and it was reduced to a double). We assumed it was named after a former prisoner, but it was supposedly the last drink Johnny Woodgate had before he crashed his car and was arrested. It was initially meant to be a joke by the then manager, but it snowballed and now here we are!”

We want it to be a welcoming, accessible place that people see and will always think is worth popping in

The obvious next question is how many they sell each night — “On an average mid-weeknight around 900 but on the weekend, it is as many as 1300. Orange is the most popular flavor followed by blue. We can go through 600 bottles of vodka a week.”

Lastly, I finish by asking about the future of the club. With a legal capacity of 450 and limited space, Dave admits they are constrained by the space.

“Believe it or not, it was once even smaller, we used to have a third bar at the back. We enlarged it and now want to expand it beyond the lower staircase and into that area by the smoking area. We are going to add speakers and improve the lighting to enhance the club feel. We are focused on upgrading what we have got. There is no doubt of demand, we had 400 people in the queue last night!”

With such plans in place, one can’t help but look forward to a refreshed and revitalised Jimmy Allen’s in September.

Illustration: Rosie Bromiley

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