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Best Of British 2010: Best Small Club - Mint

In Mint Condition - The inexorable rise and rise of Leeds’ coolest club

In a city where afterparties never end and Monday sickies reign supreme, the 550-capacity Mint Club holds an enviably strong reputation amongst Leeds’ incomprehensibly buoyant night scene. With diverse, top class venues attracting everyone from chavs-on-tour to techno snobs, alongside the world class music producers who choose to make their permanent home there, Leeds’ dance music undercurrent flows ever more rapidly of late.
Mint Club, which underwent a full £500,000 refurb not too long ago, definitely timed its re-launch well. Just as the city smashed a notable dent on the global dance radar, this high spec, intimate space re-opened its doors and unveiled a set up that wouldn’t be hard to blend into Berlin’s roster of world famous venues. Notably the roof-mounted ‘Disco Panel’ of LED lights which run in time with the music and the unrivalled Funktion One soundsystem, which together create what could only be described as a sensual cocoon. Land yourself mid-dancefloor with the likes of Loco Dice smashing the decks, and you’d be hard pressed to feel your feet on the floor…
With only one room, focus always remains on the main act. In doing so Mint Club create an environment that surpasses standard clubbing and creates a ready-made showcase template for the upper tier of underground DJs to slip in and have a field day.
“The refurb's main key points were to focus on the integration between DJ, crowd, sound and lights, all the key elements that have transformed the Mint into something special. It was planned out so the DJ feels they are with the crowd and vice-versa,” says the club’s owner, Shane Graham.
And anyone who witnessed the wonder that was Villalobos and Cassy back-to-back until 9am not too long ago will know exactly what he means: picture a darkened DJ booth, 550 heads pointed firmly down and two elated DJs dishing out beats completely in their element. Electrifying stuff… 
The club’s resident night, System, takes place on the first Saturday of each month and was the driving force behind Mint’s epic re-launch. Featuring a roster of only the biggest or most hotly-tipped names in the scene, the night has become a veritable showcase of the slickest and most progressive artists around, though this has only been after relentless effort from Shane and his promotion team.
“When me, Keith and Annie first started System at Mint, it was so difficult getting around 80-150 people, if we were lucky. For over a year we struggled, we never wanted to give up because we all love it so much. Then we were given exclusive Cocoon rights in Leeds from Sven and Talida. From the first Cocoon at Mint, people started to take notice and knew we weren't going away.”
System aside, Fellow club nights such as Filth and Louche relentlessly pack out the venue on the remaining Saturday nights, and student favourites Teknicolour and Wax:On make sure the dancefloor is free of tumbleweed throughout the week. The array of different musical styles is endless and the relationship between owners and promoters unfaltering, and this tight-knit work ethic translates perfectly to the dancefloor. 
“It’s a mix of music for all different people and it’s a nice crowd, a great atmosphere and people are never disappointed. Mint always delivers and I think this is why people keep coming back from all parts of the country.”

But it’s the reaction of the DJs that really proves Mint’s worth as a strong contender in the worldwide club scene.
“Between all our brands, we've all brought the world’s top DJ's to Mint and the comments have been great. Some have said Mint is the best club in the UK and one of the best in Europe, we've had so many stand-out comments,” Shane smiles.
2011 will see System and Cocoon’s monumental outdoor event, Cocoon In the Park, enter its third year, and with their constantly progressing reputation in Europe and beyond, it’s fair to say Mint won’t be stopping for breath anytime soon. The genuinely forward-thinking mentality and engrained passion for their venue will maintain the high standard and reputation they have earned themselves. Promoter of the night Filth, Danny Savage, sums things up nicely…
"An intense and futuristic cauldron of light and sound that never fails to assault your every sense.” The only way is most definitely up.

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  The Other Nominees

Plastic People, London Corsica Studios, London Sub Club, Glasgow Audio, Brighton