'The main justification for
acid house parties down
south is that you can't get
anything to drink past 2am. - Up here, there's no need.
Glasgow, City of Culture - 5.30am. That's adequate toranybody)
to have two to three thousand people at it.‘
If. as is often said. the provincial club scene is going through a boom. it is a blow that A Guy (‘alled Gerald. Kiss AMC and Ruthless Rap Assassins only lured around 3()() people into Leith Assembly Rooms and Glasgow Mayfair. with many of the ravers at the latter being distinctly youthful. a characteristic of Glasgow‘s ravers.
However. Public Enemy have had to add a second date at the Barrowland. and last year‘s Schlitz-sponsored Slam nights were consistently busy (too busy. in the case of the sold-out 'l‘ramway date. for which paying customers were let in on the night and ticket-holders dispersed by police outside). presenting PAs by Electribe 10]. MC Duke. and Double Trouble and The Rebel MC‘. The next important date for the diary is the 3.5(lll-capacity Slam show of l.i| Louis and Adamski. eo-promoted by the established Regular Music. at the SECC. It sold Still tickets on the first day. and if it comes off as expected should qualify for the title of 'Scotland‘s first rave'. although that word. with all its connotations of illegality and its reminders of last year‘s Tramway farce. makes Slam DJ ()rde shudder.
The interest is there. and it‘s clear that the Scottish scene is not just a
pale Xerox of what‘s happening in London. Given a boost by the greater confidence in the provinces. clubs are forging ahead in an individualistic manner. But it's a less frantic scene. mainly unpublicised. and. ofeourse. very much smaller.
Fred Deakin again: ‘It‘s a good thing that there isn‘t any coverage. And the reason there isn‘t is that it‘s a very small scene in Scotland. Even Glasgow struggles to support two regular venues. Fury’s and the Sub Club. and even Fury‘s has been quite empty recently from what I‘ve heard.‘
‘l‘d say there was a time that that was true.‘ says Stephen Sleepman. guru of Glasgow‘s UFO. ‘but now Furys and the Sub (‘lub are going for different markets. For a while there were too many similar things going on on the same night. People can move around venues now. Before. there was direct competition. I think the more venues in Glasgow the better.‘
Fury M urry‘s was reported to be struggling in trying to compete with the Sub (‘lub and had gone for a more student audience. and the Sub (‘lub has relaxed its door policy somewhat. matching the drift away from Beautiful People to Gruesome Mancunians. In the meantime. Choice has gone for the older crowd. while the young ravers populate places like 'I'in Pan Alley.
Again, the size of the Glasgow scene is due in great part to licensing laws, the conspicuous difference between Glasgow and London being that ‘the main motivating force for going out in London is to get a drink after 1 lpm.‘
Over on the east, the crowd has changed, partly, according to Deakin, because more people are actively going out and seeking clubs. ‘When I first started going out in Edinburgh. to the Manifesto, it was very much Edinburgh people. Not students, not outsiders, but an insular Edinburgh crowd who were big eggs and ran the club or their mates ran the club or were in bands that were talked about at the club, or whatever. But that‘s not the case any more. It‘s much more spread. You‘ve got your casuals. You’ve got your hardcore Edinburgh trcndies. You’ve got your student trcndies. But that’s peculiar to Edinburgh, which relies on a lot ofdifferent crowds for a start. It’s very segregated, whereas in Glasgow, it’s more of a city — Edinburgh’s not a city, that‘s why I like it — Glasgow’s like London. You’ll get your punters, and you‘ll get your certain punter going to a certain type of club. And they’ll all be the same, virtually. But up here, there aren‘t enough ofany one crowd to support a club on its own, so you have to rely on the mixture.’
Violence from casuals has lately become a worry which has caused the attendances at some clubs to dwindle. Spanish Harlem and Thunderball have tasted it, and Thunderball, Deakin explains, shut down to prevent anyone getting hurt. It‘s been said that people from outside Edinburgh are wary ofgoing
' ' we». ‘House finished the idea at a club being a club. It became dead open. You couldn’ttell
who was a clubher and who was a casual on Ecstasy.’
to all-nighters in the city for that very reason. ‘Edinburgh.‘ commented one Clubber who did not want to be named. ‘has become the place not to start a club. The thing is, the scene has completely changed. House finished off the idea of a club being a club. It became dead open. You couldn‘t tell who was a clubber and who was a casual on Ecstasy.‘
What he meant was that the ‘trendies’, who inhabited the more select places, and the ‘Northern Soul element, the ones who took Yogi [Haughton, DJ] as their figurehead‘, were kept separate until the explosion of House, a music whose appeal straddled both groups. For the first time, they wanted to hear
the same kind of music in the same places.
‘I think that’s really true,’ says Stephen Sleepman, from his Glasgow perspective. ‘Beforehand there was an elitist kind of clothes market, and I think now people are more into the music, and you could say kids that aren’t as, shall we say, designer clothes conscious. In a lot of ways, I think it‘s good, because as long as you’re not doing daft things the way some clubs do, you’re not going to get any trouble inside, because the kids are okay. It‘s the gangsters who cause the trouble.’
Nevertheless, the number of people who want to stay anonymous when talking about subjects even distantly related to casuals, violence and Ecstasy is the sign of a greater tension that accompanies clubbing nowadays.
Confusion reigns over the prevalence of the club culture‘s sacrament: Ecstasy. A Glasgow police spokesman said: ‘The drugs squad say there have been a small number ofseizures, and that it is available in Glasgow, and it may be that it’s growing in popularity, but there are so few seizures that it’s not really considered a serious problem at all.’
So insignificant that Colin Barr barred one club from using Choice, as he told The List last issue, because of the amount of dealing that was going on there?
And in Edinburgh, the statement (albeit with the proviso that they were not being complacent, and that ‘we maintain a very active drugs squad, and ifwe didn’t think that drugs were a problem we wouldn’t have the drugs squad’) that ‘despite rumours’, there is ‘nothing to suggeSI that there is a lot ofdrug-dealing or misuse in public places, in pubs and discos.’
While there are those who vouch that there is more acid (‘a poor man‘s drug’) on the scene than Ecstasy, it is difficult to gauge the true impact of hallucinogenics here, although their role down south is undeniably central.
‘Edinburgh's been full of Ecstasy for at least a year,‘ said one Clubber I canvassed. ‘Don’t get me wrong, every club I know tries hard not to have any drugs, but you can’t search everyone that comes in, so it‘s really difficult to keep it like that. In most cases people will not only have searched the guys, but the girls as well. or their bags. You can have the best stewarding in the world and you’ll still get dealers coming in.‘
For all that, there‘s a confidence around. Stephen Sleepman would say that in Glasgow especially the clubs are forging ahead. ‘When I first started, you didn‘t know what London clubs were really like. Just from gradually building up your experience — going to London. Manchester, Antwerp- the more you travel, and compare people. you realise that London DJs don't have supernatural powers. But I don‘t know if the Glasgow people realise that yet. I think the club-runners do. Manchester‘s had its spotlight; maybe Glasgow will soon too.‘
The List 9- 22 March l99tl9