The Black Swan in Easton is an incredibly deceptive place. It is almost impossible to deduce that this is one of Bristol's coolest, seething and edgy all-night party landmarks at first glance. Fronted by the kind of large pub that wouldn't look out of place on a neglected council estate, with screens dotted around, churning out sport, and the aging locals bickering over their pints with a hint of suppressed aggression, that feels like it may explode before last orders are called... there's not a lot about the place that says 'warehouse rave'... But, hidden behind this banal façade is a cavernous industrial looking space, that gets dressed up at the weekends, and taken over by stacker PA's and dj's.
By day, the forecourt area in front of the garage doors leading to the party space is used by a bunch of guys offering hand car washing for a fiver. With no sign above the double doors there's nothing to suggest that there's anything behind them other than the room to park a car. It's bizarre!
This place offers a chance to step back to a time when dance music was in its pomp and Bristol was an underground hedonist's heaven. Ostensibly a pub (?!), this tardis-like venue also contains at least three dancefloors and a huge garden. Basically it's perfect for converting into a squat style party with a fire out the back and loads of seating to watch the crazed revellers dancing, juggling and munting around a bonfire.
They don't do a great job of promoting what's on, so you need to keep an eye out for the right night run by a decent promoter. Even though I've been loads of times and never seen any trouble, it's not hard to imagine that things could get stickier than the less than luxurious toilet floors if you rock up unexpectedly on the wrong night.
This place is not for the fainthearted - whether you regard this as a warning or as encouragement probably dictates if you'll enjoy it or not!
So so skanky, this Bristol club needs a good clean. It's probably part of the charm for most people though. With break core and psytrance getting a look in, it's a bit more eclectic and left field (and in my mind just better) than what you'll get at most Bristol clubs. Go here to have you horizons expanded a bit, and have a dance to a beat you haven't heard before.
People are good natured here and looking to dance all night and then a bit more. Most of the rooms have some mesmeric video on loop with people trudging along zombie like in front of it. There's an outside where you can get a bit of air and some space. If you don't like being in darkened rooms with thumping bass, this probably isn't the place for you though. It's a bit ramshackle, with a corridor I'm yet to reach the end of, again part of the charm for most people I'm sure. It's usually pretty cheap on the door but cans of beer are a rip off.
The Black Swan is dirty and different to most other Bristol clubs, much better than them too I think.
Okay, this place isn't for the faint hearted. If you're slightly precious about your clothes and shoes in particular and prefer stylish sophistication over skanky inebriation, I would recommend you give this place a wide birth. I would go as far as to say it's the dirtiest club in Bristol, which is something it almost seems to revel in.
If you're choosing to enter the Black Swan you must be a music lover as this is what it does best. Either that or you're lost and need directions to get away from the place. The music tends to be of the electronic hardcore dance/drum and base type, so don't get there expecting a nice laid back acoustic set or any beatnik beardy types.
It's hard to pin down the exact demographic this place appeals to, but I'm sure you know who you are. If you want something completely off the mainstream then this is the place for you.
The Black Swan, aka The Dirty Duck is a legendary landmark in the Bristol music scene and often one misrepresented. The centre point of a recent shutting down by the local council, The Duck is up and flying again.
The venue is split very definitely in two. Downstairs at the front is the pub. It is a local pub for local people. I went in there once in the day for a cheeky half before work but could only manage one gulp - think of cowboy films where the music stops and all eyes fall on you. If you're a local, you'll know about it. If you don't know about it, well, there's probably a reason for that.
Downstairs at the back and upstairs is an entirely different story. This is a venue that thoroughly represents the more alternative sides of Bristol's booming dance music scene. Mongrel is the current sound system playing an eclectic mix of Drum and Bass and Dubstep. This isn't a bit of Andy C at Oceania, this is up-all-night bonfire-in-the-garden can't think let alone move business.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, again - there's probably a reason for that.
The Black Swan is buried deep in the heart of Easton, a venue in very much its own mould, with music is about as far off the beaten track as its location.
Although parties regularly lasted from late night to late morning, ever since there was a (highly dubious) kerfuffle with the council, it since has been restricted to a 3am close. I haven't been since then and can't comment on a change in atmosphere, but if it's anything like it was before there shouldn't be any problem reeling in the punters.
Dark and dingy, the Black Swan has a weird youth club gone wrong atmosphere. The lighting is in places (such as the main pub area) oddly strong, reminiscent of a school gym hall and casting eerie shadows. The outdoor area is extensive and home to the odd reggae barbeque in summertime.
The musical palette is diverse, but erring more on the deep and dirtier edge of electronic music. When combined with the club's seedy feel, the Black Swan is the perfect venue for drum n bass, dubstep, bashment, jungle, breakbore etc.
What you think of the Black Swan will depend on what you look for in a night out. If you don't mind the skankiness of the experience and can look past it to get to the music, you'll find this a good night out.
It's by far the dirtiest club I've been to in Bristol and would never go there without a good group of mates (and would always make sure to wear my oldest pair of shoes!)....but if the music's right, it'll be spot on! Large outside area normally with a bonfire lit, adds an unusual atmosphere to that which you'd expect from a club night.
Generally the music policy is the harder end of danceso drum and bass, breakcore, psytrance, techno etc. are the norm here.
The black swan has been a favourite leftfield venue for many a bristolian over the years. There 'heady', decadent club nights will not be to everyone's taste but the venue itself offers a perfect opportunity to escape the routine of life and experience something a little different. From -ziq to Shitmat, breakcore to psy-trance no electronic stone is left unturned to source the finest alternative dance artists from across the globe.
So, if you dont mind being slapped in the face with culture and you accept tinnitus is just another part of the monday blues, then this is for you. Tickets are usually fairly priced but beers are expensive.
The Black Swan is one of the most unique venues in bristol. It hosts the craziest nights around spanning from Drum and Bass to the heavier house and electronica. However, it is on the dodgier side of town (speaking as a fishponds girl i'm allowed to say that!) and its advised to get a taxi when you leave as waiting around for a bus in the early hours is not to be advised unless there is a big big group of you.
Also, don't expect to be home before about 8am... Its a party place...
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