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HC’s definitive guide to Call Lane

The vast majority of my first two years at Leeds was spent funding my vodka-fuelled antics at the likes of Halo and Evolution. Now don’t get me wrong, I still like to treat myself to the occasional orange VK, and the odd spontaneous trip to Space on a Tuesday night is a welcome change from the miseries of third year, but let’s just say that my tastes have become a little more refined, despite still being an immeasurable way away from sophistication! Despite only really discovering it in my third and final year at uni (a fact I now live to regret), it’s not taken much for me to fall in love with the treasure chest that is Call Lane. Nestled in the south east of the city, and meandering down from the Corn Exchange, Call Lane is a vibrant concoction of bars, infused with a bustling atmosphere and sprinkled with a generous portion of merry-making revellers.With so much choice, it promises a great night out for everyone, shaken or stirred.

For those of you who are yet to bask in Call Lane’s glory, HC’s definitive guide to the ins and outs of Leeds’ best kept secret are truly all you need!

1. Neon Cactus

Price rating - Change left over for chips
Music – RnB/hip hop/alternative
Overall HC star rating – 9/10

They say save the best ‘til last, but on this occasion I’m afraid I’m going all controversial and presenting the best in prime position. Neon Cactus is definitely my favourite destination on the Call Lane strip, and is a necessary pit stop for any first time visitors! There’s truly no mistaking the bright orange Neon Cactus sign which has become as much a landmark to Call Lane as level 13 has to Edward Boyle. Since its opening not so long ago in September 2009, this little gem has firmly earned its place amongst the Call Lane community, intermixing a quirky Mexican theme which extends from its decor to its food and drinks menu, with a friendly, fun and easygoing atmosphere. The bar’s intimate size combined with great music, reasonable drink prices, and rowdy bar men always make for a memorable night! Just one warning – mind your head! When those bar men hear an infectious tune, lamp shades go flying (quite literally)!

2. Jake’s Bar

Price rating – Count up your coppers
Music – Anything goes
Overall HC star rating – 7/10

At the upper end of the Call Lane trail sits Jake’s Bar. A firm favourite with the mass student population, Jake’s multi-tasks between bar, restaurant and gig venue, and does so with envious ease. Its basement location and cavernous interior help to establish a stylish downtown bar vibe, whilst its higher end drink prices make it a far cry from any Whetherspoons. If you’re thinking about paying Jake’s a visit in the colder months, make sure to wrap up warm – there never fails to be a queue on the door!  

3. Mook

Price rating – Change left over for chips (2-4-1 deals on selected cocktails during the week)
Music – Alternative/RnB
Overall HC star rating – 8/10

Although a little off the beaten track, Mook is still a fully fledged member of the Call Lane community. During the week this quaint little treasure offers a wide choice of 2-4-1 deals on a variety of cocktails, ranging from the exotically named Diamond Fizz and Berry Delicious to the more classic Long Island Ice Tea and Cosmopolitan (you’d literally be a fool to order a Smirnoff Ice!) Resident DJs help to extend Mook’s effortlessly cool ambiance by playing tracks old and new. Overall, its comfortable atmosphere, friendly staff, and prime location only a (cobbled) stone’s throw away from Space, make Mook a popular choice for both students and professionals alike.

4) Fire

Price rating – Break the balance
Music – House/hip-hop/rnb
Overall HC star rating – 7/10

Ok, so although five pounds is a good week’s worth of baked beans, that’s not to say you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. Forget Heinz, welcome to Fire. Although being only one of the few destinations along Call Lane to require an entry fee, Fire looks sure to show you a good time! With its rich array of club nights during the week, it’s more than tempting to spice it up on a school night. From ‘Back 2 the 90s’ on a Wednesday to ‘Vintage’ on a Friday, Fruity looks sure to be a thing of the past! Burn baby burn.

5) The Rock Bar

Price rating – Empty your pockets
Music – Various different nights ranging from indie to RnB
Overall HC star rating – 8/10

At the lower leg of the Call Lane jaunt sits the Rock Bar, a trendy northern tribute to the white isle of Ibiza herself. Infamously known as “the bar with the tree in it”, the Rock bar incorporates glamour and sophistication in an attempt to recreate the Mediterranean party-island lifestyle, and boy does it succeed! Its relaxed atmosphere and infectious party vibes have dragged me back time after time, never failing to disappoint, come day or deadline! Its extensive drinks menu offers a rich array of cocktails (I definitely recommend the Grapefruit Grenada) which are freshly made in front of you, and its invisible entry fee means you won’t have to sacrifice a call to Amber cabs at the end of the night. Having its great wooden doors open from 10am until 4.30am everyday, the Rock Bar truly allows you to party from dusk until dawn, and should be the final destination on anybody’s Call Lane bar crawl.

Whether its liquor, lager, lasagne or live music you’re after, Call Lane has all the ingredients. My only regret is that I didn’t stumble across it sooner so just make sure you don’t make the same mistake as me!

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