Organiser: I want memories of Blast Off to be happy

Club organiser Dave Travis explains the decision to call it a day for Blast Off after 18 years.

My decision – Blast Off organiser Dave Travis
My decision – Blast Off organiser Dave Travis

I have been blown away by the reaction from people to the news that Blast Off would be ending after 18 years.

We sold out the week before Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve but over the last 18 months the numbers have been slipping.

I have to stress this is not a decision that was made by Wolverhampton Civic Hall or Wolverhampton City Council.

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This was my decision because I wanted Blast Off to always be remembered as a great night. I wanted people to have happy memories of it and not let it become a failure. The truth is that Blast Off hasn’t made a profit for over a year but this isn’t a financial decision. It has become a labour of love running Blast Off and I could have let it continue while the numbers dwindled but I didn’t want to.

I wanted to end on a high. We’ve always thought about the needs of our customers and hold meetings after each club night to discuss comments, how the night went and what music is proving popular.

Everything was planned like it was a big show on a big night.

Blast Off has had 991,000 customers, meaning should it get its one millionth customer by the time March 8 comes around it will be the second biggest club night in the history of the world – second only to Manumission in Ibiza.

Almost a million people have been to Blast Off nights at the Civic Hall
Almost a million people have been to Blast Off nights at the Civic Hall

That is a fantastic achievement for Wolverhampton. The city has its critics but I love it; and for Wolverhampton to record that figure just shows we did something right. Something special.

When we announced that Blast Off would be coming to an end I couldn’t quite believe the response.

Our Facebook page received 20,000 hits in two hours and at one point there were 700 page views per minute.

I had people calling me and texting me to tell me they were sad it was coming to an end. The response on Twitter has been amazing. I have been thinking about this decision for around a year now so it wasn’t something I decided after a quiet night in January, which is to be expected.

We still sell out on big dates in the year such as Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Christmas but in the early months of the year and during the festival months, when our regulars are elsewhere, the numbers are low.

This wasn’t an announcement to shock people into coming to Blast Off.

I chose March 8 as the final night to allow people who are away at university or who have moved elsewhere to make plans to enjoy a final night with us.

There is a tremendous amount of affection and loyalty for Blast Off. Many of our regulars over the years that move away from Wolverhampton often return to us when they visit, even after a number of years they still want to come home and have their night out here.

Blast Off in its heyday was all about the big night out on a Saturday, and some of that atmosphere was lost when it had to move from the Civic Hall to the Wulfrun Hall due to the smaller numbers of customers. I have promoted bands such as Oasis, Blur and Radiohead and the PA system we used for Blast Off was the same one we used for their gigs.

It was all part of the big show, big night atmosphere, that we wanted to create. We wanted to be different to everywhere else. We offered free food on a regular basis when people came through the door. On St George’s Day we offered English sausage and we’ve even served goat curry for regulars too. Maybe people have just got too used to the Blast Off name being there and they assumed it would never close.

It has become something of an institution. But sadly it couldn’t last forever as the numbers fell.

Comments for: "Organiser: I want memories of Blast Off to be happy"

JJ

I think part of its charm but also its demise it that it hasn't changed. Maybe they should have tried to mix things up a bit maybe provide some live entertainment for a chunk of the show or special guests like other clubs do. I'm sure they wouldn't have had any trouble attracting local bands to come and play a 30 min - 1 hour set during the evening to get things going. Even if it was a list of covers it would still offer something other clubs don't.

If the place did sell out for Halloween and New Years then maybe the solution is to keep it going by just opening for one off nights like that. At the very least try making it every 2 weeks or even a monthly thing. First weekend after pay day is usually to only time I went anyway. That way I bet more people will come on those nights and it will be more likely to make a profit.

At the end of the day though the blame is on the Government and this is exactly what they want. Fact is Blast off is a relatively trouble free and well controlled night and a prime example of how to handle trouble before it flared up. A well managed and through body check for drugs and weapons on entrance and a high / no nonsense security presence inside. My hat goes off to the bouncers for that one.

The lets just slap a tax on it approach is a joke and ruining peoples livelihood. It just penalising those who just want to enjoy themselves and its not stopping the idiots who just want to cause trouble. In fact it makes it worse because they just load themselves up on cheap drinks/drugs beforehand instead.