In 1995 a weekly column began in the Sheffield Telegraph called Dirty Stop Out’s Guide chronicling the city’s nightlife.
It was written by Neil Anderson who had just launched the first of his definitive guides to Sheffield’s after-dark culture, hiring a coach to take around 40 journalists and a few council members and officials on a Saturday night club-crawl.
“We lost nearly half of them en route but the things they said about the city’s nightlife was fantastic,” he recalls.
“Looking back, there’s little doubt the late nineties scene was about as good as it got for Sheffield; it was ranked as one of the top night’s out in the country.”
He has collected the memories into a new illustrated book, Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1990s Sheffield, which pinpoints the granting of an alcohol licence for the groundbreaking Republic venue on Arundel Street - after earlier refusals - as the catalyst for change.
Suddenly everything from former banks to defunct fitness suites in the city centre were being turned into shiny new nightspots.
It was all a far cry from earlier in the decade when a report highlighted the sorry state of things in Sheffield; thousands of the city’s young people shunning local venues every weekend and opting for the bright lights of rival cities like Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham.
But within a couple of years Steel City had totally turned the tables and become regarded as one of the top party venues in the UK. Its name was synonymous with the dance generation for groundbreaking nights such as Gatecrasher, Love to be..., Rise and others.
But it wasn’t just the house nights that were putting the city on the national map.
Home-grown music was arguably at its most buoyant since Sheffield’s chart dominance in the early 1980s as the likes of Pulp, the Longpigs, Olive, All Seeing Eye, Babybird, Moloko and others made their mark.
It was an era before social media which meant the only way to promote club nights and gigs was through posters. Flyposting got out of hand and triggered flyposting wars and a council clampdown on what it saw as a blight on the landscape.
Anderson talks about the battle between different parts of the UK to be able to call itself a 24-hour city.
Sheffield seemed intent on putting itself forward as forerunner of the title despite having little more to offer than a 24-hour Spar on Ecclsall Road and a couple of round-the-clock garages. A 24-Hour City Conference was held here and one of the main things it argued for was to encourage more inner city living. This was to happen eventually but not by the nineties.
The nineties was also the decade of The Full Monty, the movie which enhanced Sheffield’s reputation as a fun place to be, and the ill-fated £15m National Centre for Popular Music which opened in March 1999 and closed in June 2000, perhaps a precursor of the decade where boom turned to bust.
Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1990s Sheffield (www.acmretro.com) is available from The Star Shop at £12.95