How Sheffield club night Jive Turkey became the UK pioneer of the burgeoning American house scene

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
By the mid-1980s a new breed of night culture was starting to make its presence felt in key UK inner cities – a scene that would eventually change the face of nightlife forever and turn Sheffield into a northern stronghold of the mainstream dance scene just a few years later.

House music had been evolving in the likes of New York and Chicago since the early 1980s and it was slowly attracting the attention of a tiny group of Brits that would become its earliest adopters.Sheffield – based thousands of miles away on the other side of the Atlantic – became one of the first champions of the then burgeoning dance movement alongside Manchester’s Hacienda which would soon throw itself into the movement hook, line and ecstasy tablet.

What the Steel City lacked in having a dedicated venue for the movement it more than made up for in the pioneering Jive Turkey – a night that still holds a legendary status decades after it last took place – and other clubnights of the era that started to put their own Sheffield twist on proceedings.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jive Turkey was held monthly at the cavernous City Hall Ballroom; there was also the Wednesday night Steamer at The Leadmill and more regular offerings at Mona Lisa’s (which had become Occasions by the late 1980s).DJ Parrot and musical sidekick Winston Hazel were two of the scene’s true originators in the city and were seen as largely responsible for introducing house and techno to Sheffield and the region.Parrot, fed up with the scene at the likes of The Leadmill and The Limit, decided to do his own thing around 1985 and ended up DJing by default because he owned more records than any of his friends when they came to starting their own night.

Jive Turkey in action - picture from the 'Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1980s Sheffield'Jive Turkey in action - picture from the 'Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1980s Sheffield'
Jive Turkey in action - picture from the 'Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1980s Sheffield'

By 1988 Jive Turkey was attracting coach loads from around the region and further. The Observer featured it in November that year. They said: “Inside, local dance entrepreneurs Jive Turkey offer the perfect antidote to Sheffield’s brusque and rough nightlife. With the co-operation of the socialist city council, the trio of Matt, John and Parrot provide a relentless pulse of funk, jazz and house rhythms finely attuned to Sheffield’s black-music-loving, fashion conscious coterie. It is the city’s obsession with contemporary dance styles, especially House, that creates such a heady ambience at the monthly Jive Turkey night.

“The crowd is mixed, with local blacks in flying jackets and Davy Crockett caps dancing next to young whites in Levis and short razored hair.“This month, however, the influence of acid house is inescapable. The whole style kit is here: knotted hankies, shorts, polka-dot shirts, and a smile inane enough to frighten even the most zealous moonie.”Some of the earliest dance hits hail from Sheffield as well.

DJ Parrot was one part of dance music studio-based act The Funky Worm that recorded at renowned Sheffield studio of the era, FON.Their ‘Hustle! (To The Music)’ reached number 13 in the UK singles chart and was a massive club hit in 1988.• Content supplied by Neil Anderson. Taken from the ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1980s Sheffield’ – available from

Related topics: