Suibhne's description of the Bridge at Newcastle in the 70s-80s chimes closely with my own memories of the club. As a performer, having the residents arrayed behind you could be quite intimidating (you half felt they might hold up score cards at the end of your performance...). On the other hand, there was also a feeling that, while you were up there, you were somehow part of this glittering company yourself. You might even call it empowering!
On guest nights, the booked performers would sit among the residents too, and then step forward when their time came. When Ewan MacColl was booked guest, he naturally enough brought his chair with him the to the front and swung it round so he could lean his elbows on the backrest. There was some merriment at this, for some wag had earlier chalked the word "God" on the backrest. Apologies if you've heard this yarn before. I wasn't present on that occasion, so it may be as apocryphal as King Cnut and his wet sandals.