If you didn’t end up staggering around outside Karisma or Ritzy in the early hours of a Sunday morning in the early 1990s in search of either a taxi or a kebab, then you just hadn’t had a good night out.
Long before pubs with late licenses virtually killed off the clubbing scene - the only way to extend your drinking and risk of a crippling hangover was to head to one of the two self-styled discotheques above. And of course, there were plenty of other stopping off points along the way before you threw yourself into a few hours of dancing, fuelled by snakebite.
So pull on your slip-on shoes, your white stilettos and grab a bottle of Hooch as we stumble back through Doncaster town centre of the late 80s and 90s for a bygone pub crawl.
Having caught a bus into town (not wearing a coat of course - because paying 50p for cloakrooms was a distinct no-no), you’d start off in one of the quieter watering holes such as The Garden in Baxtergate, a particularly leafy affair with acres of green foliage making it more akin to Kew Gardens than a pub.
Then it would perhaps be onto The Gallery on Silver Street for a few more pints of Miller Lite or Labbatts, perhaps stopping at The Old George in the Market Place along the way, where you’d invariably have to hold your nose at the less than cleanly toilets.
Braver souls might tackle the underground haunts of the Wellington Vaults in the corner of Bower’s Fold or the King’s Head in Bradford Row - but both bars would invariably spark fear in the novice drinker, the kind of bars where you’d always be wary of what might happen next.
For a classier clientele, you could sample the Art Deco stylings of Joplins in West Laith Gate (now the Tut ‘n’ Shive or the similarly-styled Oscars just round the corner in St Sepulchre Gate with its Hollywood style film theme, the latter now a haunt of football fans and called Paris Gate.
Newcomers onto the scene in the 1990s included Yates’s Wine Lodge, with its sophisticated styling and gallery view and the two pubs for the price of one affair that was AD43 and Scruffy Murphy’s, one side a sleek townie set bar while a doorway between the two led into an Irish themed raggle-taggle wood-panelled bar playing The Pogues and alive with Guinness and the ‘craic.’ O’Neill’s on East Laith Gate was another pub from the era that wallowed in the Oirish boom of the early 90s, with its ‘cead mille failte’ tiled entranceway and confusing door signs.
If you wanted live music, you’d have to head out of town across the North Bridge to the Toby Jug for spit and sawdust and sticky floors, or head to the back room of the Saracen’s Head on Cleveland Street with its red leatherette furniture.
But the end of the night was what it was all about and your choice of club.
If you were feeling energetic, you could head to Seventh Heaven on Duke Street (later Karisma) and scowl in envy at the VIP pass holders who could whizz to the heady delights on the top floor using the lift while you’d have to join the rest of the common people tackling the marathon flights of stairs, the thumping sounds of The Adventures of Stevie V, Adamski and Beats International getting ever louder as you reached the top where a conveniently styled circuit loop was in operation making perusing the girls (or boys) just that bit easier.
If that didn’t take your fancy, there was Bacchus, a particularly popular wine bar (now Bentley’s Gentleman’s Club) which was for the more mature drinker and dubbed ‘poncy’ by those more in the know. Equally, Park Lane nightclub on Bradford Row was more often than not dubbed “Jurassic Park” by more crueller, hip young things, simply because of the older clientele it attracted.
For many, the only place to be was the sprawling mass of Ritzy (previously Elektrik Avenue, later Visage), its cavernous dancehall and dark corners the home of no doubt many illicit teenage fumblings and regrtted encounters while the ever amiable DJ Dave DD spun the wheels of steel with plenty of dancefloor fillers.
Then, the lights would come on at around 2am and you’d stagger blinkingly into the wild west scenes of Silver Street, heading for a kebab, simply so you could spill half of the salad half way down Hall Gate as you’d collapse into a taxi back to the suburbs, ready to do it all again the following weekend.
So here’s our ultimate top ten for a 90s night out in Doncaster.
1. The Gallery, Baxtergate
2. The Old George, Market Place
3. The Gallery, Silver Street
4. Joplins, East Laith Gate
5. Oscars, St Sepulchre Gate
6. Scruffy Murphy’s/AD 43, Hallgate
7. Bacchus, Hallgate
8. Park Lane, Bradford Row
9. Karisma, Duke Street
10. Ritzy, Silver Street
* What are your memories of going out in Doncaster in the 80s and 90s? Tell us your favourite bygone pubs at our Facebook page.