What was in, what went on — 1990 in Clubland.
LISTINGS: GLASGOW 64 EDINBURGH 65
of the club
1990 was certainly one ofthe best years for Glasgow clubbers: new clubs opening nearly every week,
exciting special events, some
important new venues. late dancing hours, thanks to the city ofculture. ~ Andrea Baxter keeps track ofit all
\ Y5 ‘4‘ I
. .~ >5 s for The LISI. Competition was fierce in Clubland this year and most ofthe nights that flared up with extravagant publicity and promises to revolutionise the club
scene in the city died quietly a month or two later.
The clubs that are still going aren‘t just the big boys however. Although Joy. UFO. Rumble. Brag and The Choice kept the punters flooding in, so did smaller outfits like New Era‘s indie nights at Rooftops. Shag at Fury Murray‘s. the near-legendary Shimmy Club, Radio City and Helter Skelter at the Mayfair. There seems to be a nice mixture of the imposineg trendy dance palaces and the more intimate venues where you go as much to hear the music and talk to your friends as to dance.
Nevertheless, one thing that most Glasgow clubs have in common is that they‘ve been affected by the invasion of mainstream and chart music due to what pretentious music-biz types call ‘club culture‘ — ie a heavier beat making pop tunes more easy to dance to. Baggies are
everywhere: you couldn‘t walk into a club this year without hearing the Mondays, the Soup Dragons. the Charlatans, et al, which is fine for those of us who like them, but must get a little wearying for Mane-haters. Dance versions of classic oldies were one unfortunate side-effect of this phenomenon; after a while that Soul II Soul backbeat becomes hypnotic, y’know . . .
The 80s maybe over, but it seems the preferred look for new venues is still post-industrial, judging by The Tunnel and The Champion. The Tunnel, especially, already seems as if it‘s been here for years and with its magnificent interior and what can only be described as an eclectic mixture oflive bands, has firmly established itself as a major player on the scene. The Champ, while smaller, holds its own in the style battle for the patronage ofclubbers clad in the latest Miyake and Gaultier creations alongside The Sub. The Choice and The Tunnel. These are the sort of places I wouldn’t get into if I didn‘t have thisjob— and what is the mysterious connection between
expensive designer gear and bleep-bleep-twiddlc music (that‘s techno to you)?
In fact. keeping up with the scene is costing more and more these days with prices soaring. A weekend night out can leave you without much change from twenty quid. making next day‘s hangover doubly painful. Unfortunately I can‘t see this ridiculous price spiral ending without pressure from You The Punter. even though with the ending of 1990‘s special licences, clubs will be closing earlier (to sighs of much relief from the club svengalis and disappointment from those of us who will find it difficult to adjust to being back home by 3am on a Saturday night watching The Hitman And Her). So here‘s my three Christmas wishes for Clubland: a sensible attitude to both prices and dress code; that the smaller and more unusual clubs will continue to thrive in the face of heavyweight competition: and a little more originality in the playlists pur-lease. Merry Christmas and thanks to everyone who‘s kept me in touch this year.
This will be remembered as the year Edinburgh's ciubscene iinally reached rock bottom; a long downward lreelall marked by escalating casual violence, and the presence at an increasingly undesirable element within the city. In Manchester, the terrace played an important part in breaking the scene, and the excess energies of soccer tans seem to have been directed towards the music and the clubs. Here, however, that violent edge remained, and was responsible tor a litter oi lorced closures, cancelled events and abandoned aspirations.
While club culture nationwide llourished, iactionalised alter acid but
i still growing upwards and outwards, in Edinburgh clubs struggled to survive at all. This unwittineg ellected a subtle shift in the scene, a progression lrom consumption to creativity. Clubbers no longer had clubs to go to-so they turned back to their bedrooms, and instead oi just listening to the music made it themselves. This goes along way towards explaining the plethora of bands which have emerged lrom the city in recent months- bands like Sugar Bullet, Zulu Syndicate, Mother, Yo Yo Honey— united only by a dance beat
The low ebb was marked by the lorced demise ol the last remaining long-running style stronghold, Spanish Harlem, lollowed in quick succession by Power, Parade, UFO, and Fuse. From then, the only way possible was up. A step in this direction came with the
opening oi two much-needed new venues-the Network, which brought us three massive lloors and Scotland's only world music club, the Mambo; and Exit, a welcome members-only addition to the city’s gay scene. Equally encouraging were two benelits- Positive and Sshboom! — which disproved the theory that clubiand seeks only sellish hedonism by uniting the city in altruistic action.
Other plus points were Pure, which combated trouble with an innovative door policy and damn line music; the ingenious and ever-inventive Fred Deacon and his Devil Mountain lroiics; lce, which brought us the Soul II Soul sound system and a compulsive indie-dance crossover and, best oi all, the Brain Club at London’s three-week trip in search at the aesthetic ol pleasure. All at these make the year worth remembering.
1990 will also be remembered lorthe transformation of the politics at dancing, by the joining oi the legacy of the house revolution in an unholy marriage to indie thrash and 603 psychedelia. This bringing together at seemingly irreconcilable entities turned the alternative into mainstream, and so-called ‘lndependent’ clubs- Floral Riot, North and Katch — blossomed despite the volatile climate, the only real successes in twelve months plagued by diliiculties.
The year will end at course, as it began, in a drunken late night haze at Millionaires.
And how will 1991 be remembered? Pray tor a multi-racial mantra tor the new age — open minds; raised consciousness; increased tolerance; inspiration, imagination and individuality; peace, hugs and lots of love. Make it a good one. (Avril Malt)
The List 21 December 1990— 10 January 199163