Some sad news to kick off the weekend: Le Bateau has officially closed.

Amidst a season of venue and bar closures – most notably The Masque, and Static Gallery’s noise abatement notice which means it’s neutered for the foreseeable future – it’s incredibly sad to see the end of one of Liverpool’s longest-running indie spots.

If you’ve ever had a passing interest in a) decent music, b) getting drunk and c) having an amazing time (or all of the above), you’ll have no doubt strayed into Le Bateau at some point. It might have been 10 years ago, or it might have been last week, but Le Beateau’s playlist of shit-hot indie and rock ‘n’ roll, retro classics and fist-pumping favourites has given us some of the best nights of our lives. It’s a total cliche, but completely true. Le Bateau was a total riot: a place where you could dance to Talking Heads, The Supremes and The Strokes like it was the last thing you’d ever do, where it seemed like a great idea to make a move on that person you fancied after 5 double vodkas, and try and spot Victor – the renowned character of Le Bateau, known for his impressive dedication to dance. In short, it was always utterly joyful.

It’s main Indiecation and Liquidation nights have been student favourites for years, calibrating generation after generation of music fan passing through its doors and navigating its treacherous staircase. Great bars have come and gone in the meantime, like the sorely-missed Korova, but Le Bateau’s been the lynchpin in the city’s music scene for a decade. Sort of like your favourite uncle with the most fun record collection you can imagine.

In some ways it feels like we should be jubilant and proud of Le Bateau’s tenure, rather than feeling completely down about it, because not many venues stay relevant and brilliant for so long. It had a seriously great run, and we know it’ll be sorely missed. But those (er, occasionally very hazy) memories will live on.

We believe Liquidation’s set to find a new home, but Le Bateau itself is setting off to the great ocean in the sky. God bless everyone who sailed in her.

43 Responses to “RIP Le Bateau: a legendary Liverpool venue closes”

  1. Awww, RIP Le Bateau. Last time I was there, a bloke repeatedly asked me if he could come home with me & then proceeded to vom on my shoes. It was the best night out I’d had in ages.

  2. Gutted. To the fat lad and the thin lad who i used to dance to the JTQ version of the starskey and hutch theme tune with in 96, whoever you were, i salute you. Nowhere quite like it. Or its toilets.

  3. Rob Cotter

    I feel depressed, I feel so bad
    ‘Cause you’re the best girl that I ever had
    I can’t get your love, I can’t get a fraction
    Uh-oh, little girl, psychotic reaction

    RIP Le Bateau

  4. @Paul – the building’s been in need of some work for a while if I remember – maybe it made more financial sense to sell it rather than pay for the upkeep. Either way, it’s sad that it’s going.

  5. StillHope

    The Masque is still going, have been to Circus twice since it’s “closure”. Get Liquidation relocated to there and they might be able to open it up properly again, saves losing two gems.

  6. Ronnie de Ramper

    Lynchpin for a decade? And the rest. I remember Le Bateau opening in the late 70s/very early 80s, precise date, hazy now. ‘Students’ wouldn’t get near the place. It was policed by doormen whose aesthetic judgements had to be satisfied before you got in. Well-dressed & beautiful meant a good night’s entertainment; trainers or human blemishes meant you stood on the pavement. I turned up one night in a party of six. Four of us were checked through; two (women) were pushed back, humiliated. So we all left, and never returned. Must have changed significantly from those days. It was a good club back then too – if you could forgive their eugenics policy.

  7. My stomping ground 10 years ago. Went recently and it was a bit of a mess. No draft beer, downstairs opened after 12, not as full as it was back in the day. Still, sad to see it go.

  8. Dave Robbo

    I would sell my wife for one last hurrah at this place. Liquidation downstairs, Voodoo upstairs please. There’s nowhere in the world like Le Bateau.

  9. Happy :D

    Come on everybody, It was a shithole. We all know its true. Stuffy, cramped sweatbox with arsehole doormen and a lot of underage drinkers.

    Granted I have been drunk in their on many occasion but it was never my first choice of venues, it wasn’t even my second.

    Let the place die.

  10. @Kieran – the building needed some work, so maybe it was easier to sell it than pay for all the upkeep? It definitely wasn’t as busy as it used to be pre-recession – presumably people being more picky with where they went out. Liquidation is set to live on somewhere else, though.

  11. @HAPPY 😀 – every city needs a “shithole” like Le Bateau. It’s where the magic tends to happen. It’s where the good shit is.

    Like a few have mentioned Voodoo really worked well at Le Bateau. Especially the dark and grimy downstairs.

    A real shame to see it go. though if it hasn’t really been updated in the decade since I last went it’s not such a surprise.

    I just hope the new owners can spend a few quid and bring back a beautiful building up to scratch.

    I hear Brew Dog were looking a putting a bar in next door … maybe they could take Le Bateau instead.

  12. Genuinely gutted – it was by far the best night out in Liverpool when I was a student 10 years ago, a place where you didn’t have to try and look cool – just get hammered and dance like a twat to great music.

    I met my first proper girlfriend there after discovering she also liked The Band. I also got thrown out of there for underpaying for a drink then trying to hide behind the speakers after necking said drink – the bouncers took the piss every week after that but it was all in good humour.

    This place was the antithesis of all the horrible bars in Concert Square – and I’m not sure there’s a good enough replacement dive for it at present 🙁

  13. Golightly

    I used to love a sparsely attended club night at le Bateau called Adult Books. It was one of the few music venues in Liverpool where a good dance was guaranteed. Everywhere else including Korova was not designed for dancing even though they had great music and atmosphere. I am a big fan of the dingy black walled smoke machine filled shithole style club. They are so atmospheric and like someone else said- these are the places where the magic happens.

  14. becky jones

    Nooooooo! this has upset me! i have fond memories from my uni days of le bateau and returned only last month for my birthday and where did we end up of course!!!

  15. Surprised reading the negative recollections of the door staff. I remember reading a review in mixmag about LeBateau’s and it described the door staff as friendly and quite funny, which is how I recall them. I suppose a lot of water has passed under her keel since then. A great place full of characters, the rankest toilets in the world bar none, fetish night of a Tuesday, where you had an electrocution rack set up on the top dance floor and men in gimp masks and see through PVC basques being led around on all fours on a lead, shagging in the far upstairs recesses, an eclectic mix of society, not forgetting ‘Liquidation’ founder and self confessed John Peel disciple Julian, who used to bring every late 90’s/early 00’s Saturday night to a close with ‘Teenage Kicks’
    Farewell old friend.

  16. Le Bateau is back open! Im a barman there, and I can guarantee you its as cheap, skanky and amazing as ever. Get on down to the bar, ask for Reece and ill get you some free shots. FACT.

  17. Michael Jones

    The bouncers were superb, best in the city. They knew us all by name and greeted us like long lost kids most of the time. Best club in town ever. Fact. We were lucky to have had it.

  18. The lads on the door were spot on! Remember going the Voodoo nights and re-enacting wwe wrestling moves up by the cloak-room with them, fuckin brilliant! Necked some stunners in there and some not so stunning haha take me back to them heady nights whenever ur ready la!

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