What happened to the South Shields venue Elton John performed in?

The venue which once hosted superstars has a rich history.

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Back in the winter of 1967, a venue in our small seaside town hosted the one and only Elton John.

This was before he took on the stage name that is now instantly recognisable to many people across the world, as he still went by his real name, Reginald Dwight.

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In the first line of Elton John’s 2019 autobiography, which is named Me. Elton speaks of performing in the South Shields club, Latino, and how that moment was integral in Elton deciding to take on his stage name, which helped propel the singer into superstardom.

He writes in the book: “I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realised I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Elton goes on to explain the moment of clarity he has in the South Shields bar, where he realises he wants to change his name, take a break from performing and get into songwriting alongside Bernie Taupin.

76-year-old Elton is now one of the most iconic performers of all time, and as he is on his final tour, named Farewell Yellow Brick Road, which has been ongoing since 2018, we have decided to take a deep dive into the South Shields bar which was lucky enough to host the musician early in his career.

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The Latino club, which was located on Crossgate, near the Town Hall, was known as a ‘supper club’, which hosted a variety of huge stars in its heyday such as Tom Jones, Showaddywaddy, Jimmy Ruffin and many more.

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We spoke to 76-year-old Marilyn, who has lived in South Shields her whole life, who recounted her memories of the nightclub. She said: “It was always packed. They managed to get some huge stars to perform there, especially early on in their careers.

“I remember they used to have Elvis revival nights too, special events to celebrate his birthday and things like that.”

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After the nightclub closed, it reopened many times as different clubs, which are still remembered fondly by the older generation in South Shields.

The Tavern, Buddies, and OZ are just a few of the clubs it reopened as.

A 52-year-old woman from South Shields recounted her experience of working in Oz in the late eighties. She said: “I worked there in 1988, it was an absolutely fantastic bar. It was absolutely huge, with two floors, five bars, a waterfall feature and such an incredible interior design.”

Elton John performed in the Latino club in 1967.Elton John performed in the Latino club in 1967.
Elton John performed in the Latino club in 1967.

She continued: “People from Newcastle would come to drink in OZ, it was the place to be.”

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In more recent years, the building has been used as a gym. In the early to late noughties it was known as Springs, before becoming Lifestyle. It is now open as The Gym Group, as part of a chain across the UK.