Sheffield Odeon Luxe: Cinema celebrates 30th birthday and was once famous star-studded 'Las Vegas' Fiesta nightclub

A Sheffield city centre cinema that was once a famous nightclub celebrates its 30th birthday this year.

By Julia Armstrong
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 2:01 pm

The Odeon cinema on Arundel Gate started off life as the Fiesta nightclub, which when it opened in 1970 was one of the biggest in Europe.

Music stars who appeared there included Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Jackson Five, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison and Ella Fitzgerald.

It also played host to top comedians such as Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson and Tommy Cooper.

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Staff at the Odeon on Arundel Gate, Sheffield with a customer services 'Oscar' in 1999

Neil Anderson, who wrote about the nightclub in his book Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Sheffield – the Fiesta Edition, described it as “like having a slice of Las Vegas on Arundel Gate”.

Apparently even Elvis’s staff came to check out the venue, although he never performed in the UK in the end.

Neil said that the venue had a capacity of 1,300 and it was firmly in the ‘chicken in a basket’ market of the 1970s. Revellers would watch top live acts and then take to the huge dancefloor.

Jobs at the venue were naturally much sought after and it had a staff of more than 100.

The old Odeon 7 on Arundel Gate, Sheffield - it's now an Odeon Luxe with 10 screens

The cinema, which opened as the Odeon 7 in March 1992, is part of a huge purpose-built entertainment complex that also included the Top Rank Suite, later to become the Roxy. It hosted stars such as The Police, The Clash, Joy Division, The Jam and David Bowie.

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It was also the base for the popular 1980s and 90s late-night TV show The Hitman and Her, starring music producer Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan, now best known as a presenter of wildlife shows such as Springwatch and Autumnwatch.

The Roxy now has a new lease of life as the O2 Academy music venue.

Odeon cinema staff in Star Wars characters costume to promote a new Star wars film in 2005. Pictured outside the cinema on Arundel Gate, Sheffield are Colin Oakley, Louise Archer, Tracy Steel and Christine Adams

The Arundel Gate cinema reopened as the Odeon Luxe in 2018 after a major refurbishment, which included adding new reclining seating in all 10 screens and the new Oscar’s Bar in the foyer.

Other Odeons in the city centre were on Flat Street, which opened in 1956 and is now a bingo hall, and the garish Odeon built in 1987 in Burgess Street on the corner of Barkers Pool with its famous red pipes. That later became the Embrace nightclub.

The building replaced the old Gaumont (initially the Regent Theatre and cinema), which was a cinema and earlier star-studded music venue hosting Cliff Richard, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Darin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and the Count Basie Orchestra.

Events on Burgess Street have now gone full circle as the latest building to go on the site is the new Gaumont, which will also replace the John Lewis store. Part of the council’s Heart of the City scheme, it will probably house shops and a performance space and will be next door to a new Radisson Blu hotel.

This is how the Odeon Luxe cinemas such as the one on Arundel Gate, Sheffield look these days, with reclining seats in the auditoriums

Delia Harmston of Sheffield architects HLM, who are working on the Gaumont and the hotel plan, said: “The final concept for the façade is a playful reinterpretation of features of the Regent Cinema.”

The Fiesta Club on Arundel Gate, Sheffield in 1976 - it is now an Odeon Cinema Luxe
Inside the Fiesta Club on Arundel Gate, Sheffield - it is now an Odeon Cinema Luxe
The old Gaumont cinema on Balm Green, Sheffield city centre, near Barkers Pool and Burgess Street - the building was demolished but its name lives on in new plans for the area