THE decision this month to force the closure of one of London’s biggest nightclubs will surely have caused memories to drift for a particular Hereford generation.

For those who grew up in the county in the 1990s were lucky enough to have had one of the UK’s biggest club nights on their doorstep.

While that particular decade is mainly remembered in music circles for BritPop, in Hereford the beat was a quicker one and defined by a counter culture.

Just like Fabric – which was the subject of a closure order from London councillors last week – the Crystal Rooms was home to dance music, primarily hard house.

But techno, drum ‘n’ bass, hardcore and acid house could also be heard and were the reasons for the huge queues skirting around the Bridge Street and King Street junction.

And it was the Naughty But Nice club night, started by DJ Andy Passman, which really put Hereford on the underground music map.

He began promoting nights from the Rooms in 1993 and, before long, Fridays in Hereford had gained a cult following within an alternative section of society.

Coaches full of fans would travel from Bristol and South Wales, and fill the Spread Eagle and Orange Tree pubs as part of the pre-club ritual. In the pre-internet age, word of mouth quickly spread to the then hefty music press while Judge Jules – one of the Rooms’ resident DJs – also used his Radio One show to bring the nightclub to a wider audience.

Jeremy Healy, Paul van Dyk and Tony de Vit were among the DJs who, by 2003, had helped make Naughty But Nice the longest-running club night operating from the same venue in the country – beating heavyweight contenders like Cream and Ministry of Sound.

To any teenager in Hereford, massive crowds – and huge names from the world of music – seemed the norm but the club was to close just over a year after records were being broken.

The nightclub remained a popular venue right up until the moment that the then-owner Clive Davies decided it was time to sell up.

Although the Naughty But Nice club night had finally – and inevitably – lost some of its pulling power, a Saturday night residency called the Lock Up was bringing sounds more aligned to breakbeat culture to a new Hereford audience. And the popularity of the club was still evident when Roni Size played at the venue just as news of the sale of the Rooms was revealed.

Many of those there that night in March, 2004, were technically the wrong side of their 18th birthday but were desperate to see what all the fuss had been about from older relatives.

When the club did finally close a few months later, international stars from the world of clubbing lined up to express their sadness and regret.

DJ Judge Jules said: “Naughty But Nice every Friday was an exceptional night, so good that it compelled many of the world’s leading DJs to make one of the most driver-unfriendly journeys possible to Hereford on a regular basis.”

Steve Harrison, who was one of the Lock Up promoters, went further in his praise for the venue.

He said: “To a lot of people, the Rooms is as much a part of Hereford as the Cathedral”

Shortly after an emotional final night featuring Andy Passman and Tim Hooley, permission was given to convert the site into luxury flats.

The venue’s art deco frontage remained when the diggers moved in – but the interiors of a venue that had not only welcomed DJs but the likes of Bob Monkhouse and Ken Dodd through the 1970s was gone.

Such was the strength of feeling for the Crystal Rooms that an auction was held, selling off 540 items from inside the venue.

Lots ranged from turntables and cash registers to pint glasses and a picture of Marilyn Monroe.

Zoe Canvin was one of those in attendance and left the auction clutching a toilet sign.

She, like many before her, had made the pilgrimage from Bristol to Bridge Street for her special purchase.

“It looked a bit different without the clubbers,” she told The Hereford Times. “But there was that musky smell that was familiar.

“I have been to clubs in Bristol and Birmingham but the Crystal Rooms had a special appeal and it will be sadly missed.”

Many thousands of others – now aged between 30 and 60 – won’t need rose-tinted specs on to echo those words.