The good ship Thekla is a local institution. With a long standing reputation as one of the city’s very best nightclubs and music venues, Thekla’s recent refurbishment has breathed new life into this converted Baltic Coaster ship.
The unbeatable selection of gigs and club nights that pack the hold most nights of the week are now complemented with daytime deck-top drinking and decent food in the upstairs bar, The Old Profanity.
Located about a five minute walk from the centre of town in the Mud Dock area, venues don’t come much more unique or interesting than Thekla.
After boarding the ship you’re faced with steps leading in different directions. Go upwards and you're in the daytime bar and spacious open deck seating area. Go down to get to the club space in the belly of the ship.
From the back of the ship, the club opens out in front of you with a large bar to your right and seating to your left that soon gives way to the sizeable dancefloor and beyond that a large stage. With probably the best in-house sound system and lighting rig in Bristol it’s easy to see why some of the city’s most popular and best promoters choose to call Thekla their home.
Before being bought by the owners of Nottingham’s The Social, Thekla was famous for dodgy toilets, filthy floor and kitsch decor. Thankfully the rebranding of the club as Thekla Social and the full refit has transformed the dirty yet loveable old ship’s quaint interior into a stylishly designed modern space, smothered with laminate wood and scattered with subtle nautical touches. The downstairs bar, all smooth polished metal, is a style statement in itself.
Thekla's crowd as varied as its nights. One thing that never changes is the brilliant vibe that seems to seep out of this legendary old venues metal-riveted walls. Whether it’s house, hip-hop, world music or guitar pop, there always seems to be a trouble-free, friendly vibe without the slightest hint of pretentiousness.
Home to some of Bristol’s finest promoters such as Hospitality, Fruity Antics and the absolutely massive Blowpop, Thekla has every base covered when it comes to dance music. And when it comes to live music, well this medium sized venue is the perfect place to catch cool bands before the rest of the world catches up.
The Food and Drink
Burgers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and burgers are available for around £3.50 to £6 and they also do a Sunday roast.
This is Bristol so cider is the obvious choice. Bottles of Weston’s Organic and Brother’s Pear cost £3.50, so there’s no need to resort to the Blackthorn. Stella and Kronenberg are around £3 a pint while a double vodka and coke will set you back £4.50.
The Final Word
Unique, exciting, legendary and entirely idiosyncratic to Bristol, Thekla is probably the city’s best club and definitely its most interesting.