Legendary Techno Club The Orbit at Afterdark in Morley Leeds

Jun 12, 2013

 

I like to think I've kept my ear to the ground when it comes to techno. I've got Suburban Knights "The Art of Stalking" and Dave Clarke "Red 1" and "Red 2" on vinyl. I managed to eventually visit the current mecca of techno, Berghain in Berlin and saw a storming Dave Clarke set in March this year. So imagine my surprise to have stumbled across The Orbit - a night that ran from 1991 to 2003 - at Afterdark club in Morley, Leeds. I have to admit, when I'd been flicking through the pages of Mixmag back in 1999 i'd be looking out more for the likes of Paul Van Dyk and Mauro Picotto than Jeff Mills and Marco Zaffarano but how could I have missed it! I used to read that mag cover to cover.

Anyway sure enough a quick look at Mixmag November 1999 reveals that Thomas Heckmann, Justin Robertson, Ben Sims, CJ Bolland and Billy Nasty all turned up to spin some no doubt heavy shit.

A night that had Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, Derrick May, DJ Hell, Christian Vogel, Joey Beltram, CJ Bolland, Dave Angel, LFO, Marco Zaffarano and David Holmes all playing in the space of a month (December '95 - January '96) gives you some idea of it's pedigree. What really strikes me though, having had an extended cruise through Youtube is the degree to which the crowd "had it". Some video evidence of this below:

James Ruskin set Orbit, Leeds 05/09/1998

Ritchie Hawtin set at Orbit, Morley, Leeds 13th October 2001

Maybe I'm hugely unaware or just not looking in the right places but I can't think of a night in the UK presently that comes anywhere near this. And I think there is certainly a huge audience for a return to a weekly hard as nails techno nightery. I noticed a rather accommodating disused warehouse on the way out on the DLR to City Airport in London the other week - a Berghain for London perhaps....

No that's ludicrous but how about a small, sweaty 800 capacity club with a queue round the corner that played the music HARD week in, week out, no exception. Email me original Orbit crew if you want to discuss... seriously!

I live in hope but, until that time, here are some flyers from back in the day.

Orbit Club Flyer Morley Leeds

Orbit Club Morley Leeds June July 1994

Orbit Club flyer September October 1995 Morley Leeds

Orbit Club Morley Leeds December 1994 January 1995

Orbit Club Morley Leeds Jeff Mills, Joey Beltram, Sven Väth

Orbit flyer January February 1996 Woody Mcbride, Claude Young, Sven Väth, Westbam, Luke Slater

Orbit flyer Morley Leeds Mike Dread, Andy Weatherall, Jeff Mills, Westbam, Sven Vath, Ritchie Hawtin

Orbit flyer Morley Leeds

The Orbit New Years Eve 1997 ticket with CJ Bolland, Joey Beltram, Dave Clarke and Surgeon

Comments (148)

Andy B on January 26, 2017

I was always of my face ! But I’ve not been 2 better place in my life it is Best & have been a round ENGLAND ???

DJ fflyffilyfbybl on January 16, 2017

I travelled from mid Wales to these nights- especially when Sven Vath played-Richie Hawtin also awesome…the best clubbing experiences I’ve ever had- lovely people in the audience, totally banging music through a fucking brillinat sound system- green lasers dry ice strobes and trippy visuals..the balcony tiers made all the difference and meant you could see and be part of it wherever you were in the main hall…and that bit when they switched the lights off for the last number was always hilarious- seeing everyone grinning hugging and just loving life….man I’d give anything to be there again …

scherben on January 08, 2017

Just to clear up any misconceptions, the Orbit finished because of issues regarding the venue, and not because of any other reason. Some other venue was being considered, but circumstances overtook matters. They finished whilst ahead.

Subterfuge on May 15, 2016

I was an Orbit regular. I was there when some stuff happened that’s become legend. Some bullshit like Aphex Twin and Laurent Garnier being booed. That NEVER happened. I went for the music. Pure techno but I guess that was it’s downfall as well. Failure to re-invent itself and move with the times. CJ Bolland became old news, music generally slowed down but the Orbit relentlessly pursued that jackhammer beat. John Berry wasn’t a great resident either. But that’s the negatives which were outweighed with the positives massively- Sven, Weatherall, Mills, Ruskin, Sims, Claude Young- wow. A highlight for me was Svens first time. German trance (before it became a dirty word) and techno interlaced with some weird ethnic chanting recordings and a full on Sven show behind the decks. Completely groundbreaking and unique. I will never hear crowd roars like the orbit in a club ever again.

Mike on April 19, 2016

Mad Mick and Dave ……. The regulars will remember them. Top club, top night every time!

wayne on April 19, 2016

first time westbam played wow I remember nothing like that in any club !

kurt on February 13, 2016

Loved the place full stop.

Started going in the early nineties when the DJ was in a small booth upstairs then periodically (when I could get a lift) till ’95 then a firm regular till it closed.

I also remember when you could go to the top floor into what became the studio. At the start it was a camouflage netted chill out room before they moved it to the back room.

Looking back the crowd changed over the years from ravers to technoheads after, as the atmosphere followed the music changing from grinning ravers dancing to rave era techno through to a more serious/intense but happy feel as techno broke from rave to carve out its own path.

Was impressed the organisers chose to take chances and try out new DJS like Technasia and introduce new labels like Kanzleramt, just a shame more people didn’t try them out as they were special nights besides the regulars.

Never a bad night and a lot of exceptional ones. Sad when it used to finish an hour early when the ckocks went back and wish i’d gone to a NYE party. Leeds was never the same after this titan of a night closed despite others giving a good go, Superconductor for one.

Hi to anyone who hung around / danced near the benches by the stairs to the back room.

scherben on February 12, 2016

Along with Tresor, Orbit was the most important techno club in the world.

Paulie on February 06, 2016

I remember going to The Orbit and not being able to get in when Sven Vath was playing. Jumped back in the car, drove to Burnley for Joey Berltram at Angels. What fucking days they were!!

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