Shedding the light on Adam Shelton's bar

We're all aware of UK clubland's biggest churches. The Ministries, Fabrics and Sankeys, where we find ourselves throwing shapes each weekend – our eyes saucers, faces a contorted mess.

Often overlooked, however, are the pre-party/mid-week lounges; the hip hang-outs and booming bars, catering for dance heads looking for more than two-for-one Wetherspoons, soulless chains or overpriced city-wig watering holes.

Behind every thriving club scene, there's a comfy spot to sit-back and sip on a G&T, while enjoying a decent soundtrack. Spotlight – opened by One Record's co-boss Adam Shelton and Cloak 'N' Dagger's James Swinburne in July 2011 – is Birmingham's.

“It came about from a conversation had over Birmingham needing more places to ‘hang out’ and relax with your friends rather than go to a genre orientated club night or party, where you feel the need to stay out all night and get wasted,” Adam tells DJ Mag. “(It is) a place to chill without feeling the pressure of looking a certain way or feeling like you have to listen to one genre of music week in week out, a cool back street hang out close to Digbeth’s up-and-coming nightlife.”

Drawing upon a chunk ripped from the Thunder Ridge set-up at the late London mecca The End as its soundsystem, Spotlight ain't some two-bit joint blasting Magic FM out blown-out speakers on Xmas Eve.

Instead, its soundtrack is supplied only by respected DJs on the UK circuit – Jane Fitz, Giles Smith, Matthew Burton & Kate Rathod, Jem Atkins and Adam Regan have all played alongside swathes of local talent since it opened – amid the demure, deep magenta hues of a renovated storage unit. “We don’t have a strict music policy, we very much want spotlight to be open to all, house, dub, reggae, funk, soul, chill out and all in between,” adds Adam.

Discretely tucked off the industrial backstreets of Digbeth – part slick lounge bar, part warehouse – and serviced by an industry standard booth and a fully stocked bar hung with silky lampshades, faux-Pre-Raphaelite pictures and street art, Spotlight is Birmingham's coolest, most clandestine cubbyhole hole.

The perfect spot to chill with your mates, hear quality music on a killer soundsystem without pushing to the bar, wrestling to the cloakroom or fending off sweaty goons groping your girlfriend all night. Not here. Just sit back and relax...


“The venue features a mix of street art, framed artwork, a classy bar, low level lighting, it has warehouse style feel with lounge style comfort and unique furniture pieces. Age and style wise we have a really varied crowd, this is down to the mixed genre of music we provide and the really relaxed feel the venue creates.”


“Myself and Kate (Rathod) played live recently at Spotlight. I also played dub reggae before our live set. The place is wicked, really liked the layout and vibe and it felt perfect for dubby stripped back and spaced out music. The Digbeth dining club street food every Friday is also such a great idea. The food was great, me and Kate had burgers which went down a right treat. I hope we get to go back and play again soon, as it was great to get the chance to play something other than dance music to a nice crowd that seemed up for the vibes. Definitely a place worth visiting if you are in Birmingham and fancy something different to the normal bar/club atmosphere.”