The Cavern Club is one of the most famous places in Liverpool, UK — or so I discovered earlier this year.
It’s particularly beloved among Beatles fans, and is known as the birthplace of the iconic band — they first performed there on February 9 1961, went on to establish themselves as the club’s signature act, then were offered their first record contract after soon-to-be manager Brian Epstein saw them perform there in November of that year.
In total, the band performed at the Cavern Club 292 times from 1961 and 1963, drastically elevating the club’s status around the world.
The Cavern Club that exists today is not the original venue, but rather a replica that sits opposite the original site, built using 15,000 bricks from the initial club (which was demolished in the 1970s, according to Visit Liverpool).
Full disclosure: I’m not a hardcore Beatles fan. Sure, I enjoy their music, but I don’t actually know a great deal about the band, and despite being a 27-year-old Brit I’d never been to the Cavern Club until the start of this year.
In February, though, I visited Liverpool for the first time, and my editor — who is a dedicated fan — suggested I check out The Cavern Club to see what all the fuss was about for myself.
I admittedly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but after my visit I now understand why the club is so popular — and would even recommend it to another non-fan.
Sadly, the coronavirus lockdown has hit the venue hard, and its future is uncertain, ITV News reported.
The Cavern Club has been closed since March when mass gatherings were banned in the UK, and director Bill Heckle told Sky News that the venue was facing financial ruin after losing £30,000 ($39,000) a week as a result.
This is what it’s like to visit, and why I hope it’ll stay open for many years to come.
The Cavern Club is situated on Mathew Street in the heart of Liverpool.
It’s known as the home of the Beatles, as the band was the club’s signature act during the 1960s.
The Cavern Quarter is home to lots of Beatles-themed venues, such as a pub …
… and restaurant.
There are also other restaurants and shops on the street, such as Turtle Bay cocktail bar and Vivienne Westwood designer clothes.
I visited at 4 p.m. on a Monday in February, and the street was pretty busy.
There was lots of Beatles-related art to admire, and a street musician entertaining visitors.
Entry to the club was £2.50 ($3.30), and they only took cash — as someone who hasn’t carried cash since around the year 2007 (OK, I’m slightly exaggerating), I wasn’t ready for this and had to go to an actual cash machine and come back.
A sign at the entrance showed who was performing that week, and I was amazed that they had live music from 11.15 a.m. every day.
Under 18s are allowed in until 8 p.m., and after that it’s adults only. The club is open every day except Christmas (well, when we’re not in a global pandemic, that is).
You walk down five flights of stairs to get to the club, music getting louder as you go. A woman asked me if it was my first time, and when I said yes, she told me I would love it. She was right.
The main room of the club is full of character, with brick walls, low arches, and dim red lighting.
With sticky floors and loud music, it immediately felt authentic, cool, and unpretentious.
There’s a small stage, where singer-songwriter Richard Batty was entertaining guests.
The walls are covered with Beatles memorabilia from decades past, as well as gig posters from other artists.
There were people of all ages singing, drinking, chatting, or just listening to the music.
With guitars on the walls and knick-knacks all over the place, there’s tons to look at.
The brick walls are covered in people’s names, which I thought was a nice personal touch.
Of course, there’s a bar.
All your classic drinks are available, at affordable prices too: You can get a bottle of wine for £15.95 ($21).
There’s a second part to the Cavern Club called the Cavern Live Lounge (despite the fact that the main room is also home to live performers).
You walk through a corridor featuring this huge wall carving of the Beatles to get there.
Inside, it’s more like a theatre than a bar, with a decent-sized stage in front of tables and chairs for the audience.
The vibe was different — it felt more intimate and chilled.
A second bar was serving up drinks, and there was no line for either of them when I was there.
I had a peek at the food menu, which featured very tempting nibbles like halloumi bites and sweet potato fries, as well as larger dishes like bacon cheeseburgers and BBQ jackfruit sandwiches.
There was a huge photo of Adele on the wall from when she performed at the Cavern Club in 2011, plus a huge screen showing Paul McCartney. There was a definite feeling of being at an iconic venue where countless stars have performed over the years.
There were lots of souvenirs on offer, from stickers to ukuleles.
I went back into the main room, as I loved the friendly, fun vibe. The performer was taking requests and also playing feel-good covers like “Here Comes The Sun.” I was impressed by how talented he was.
Having looked around the whole venue, I got a drink (a tonic water for £1.80 ($2.40) and decided to relax and enjoy the music.
Judging by the accents of those around me, there seemed to be a fair few locals as well as lots of tourists. I spoke to a couple from Austria who were loving it.
A group of older men got up and started dancing to The Who, and a little later a couple of women took to the dance floor. Everyone was very merry, and I imagined it must get even more fun into the night.
I liked the Cavern Club so much more than I’d been expecting.
I realized that I hadn’t been excited to go because I knew so little about it before.
However, the Cavern Club is a rare old venue (it opened in 1957) that has maintained its sense of authenticity and charm.
It’s popular with tourists, but has managed to maintain its regular, local clientèle, which is no mean feat.
Whether you’re a hardcore Beatles fan or not, I’d definitely recommend you swing by the Cavern Club — don’t go to Liverpool without seeing it.
If you’re looking for a swanky night out and an excuse to dress up, the Cavern Club probably isn’t the spot for you, but if you’re after a chilled, affordable evening with friends, it’s perfect.
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