Bristol’s floating nightclub that’s still going strong after decades

Bristol’s floating nightclub is celebrating its ruby anniversary in May. Thekla is turning 40 and is celebrating in true Bristol style with a five-day programme, including live music with some of the venue’s most memorable performers making a return.

Dubbed a cultural institution in the city and beyond, the team at Thekla will be celebrating a new book about the iconic venue. The Complete History of Thekla, documents its history and legacy from its days under a different name and tales dating back to 1958. And Thekla is inviting some of its favourite talent from the past four decades to come back and perform.

Taking to the stage will be My Nu Leng, who were original residents at Thekla’s 51°27′ club night when it started in 2011, and regular 51°27′ guests Kahn & Neek, who also hosted their own Bandalu club events on the boat. Closing the weekend on Sunday, May 5, are Beatles Dub Club & Friends including the Mad Apple Circus horn section, the Bloco B samba dancers and the Binbag Wisdom vocalists.

The weekend also features chart-topping Strangers singer Kenya Grace, English punk-rock duo Soft Play (DJ set), alternative-indie band The K’s, space-rockers Henge and a special Pop Confessional club night with Twisted Time Machine.

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Alex Black, general manager at Thekla, said: “Celebrating 40 years in Bristol is absolutely incredible. Thekla stands for so much more than a music venue – it is an institution testament to Bristol’s vibrant culture. Each band that plays and all the up-and-coming DJs all tell a story and add to the rich history of the city’s music scene.

“We can’t wait for people to get their hands on the book that documents the legacy and passion of Thekla. The vessel’s 40th anniversary also comes at a pivotal time for independent music venues, acting as a space for growth for emerging artists and inspiration to grassroots venues that are faced with rising operational costs. Celebrating four decades of Thekla signifies the power of culture and arts, and how important it is to the city and for the city.”

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