The beat goes on
If you thought clubbing in Scotland began with acid house and the second summer of love, think again. Rory Weller delves into the history of Glasgow’s club scene.
0 back twenty years, and clubbing as we know it had started to make its way onto Glasgow’s dancefloors. The revolution of cool began in The Verandah Music Box on the city’s Sauchiehall Street — the venue gave music lovers the option of ballroom, including big band and discotheque, complete with bantering disc-jockey.
Elsewhere, Gigi’s advertised themselves as ‘bound to win a place in the heart of every dedicated swinger’. Entrepreneur of the day was Frank Lynch of the all-powerful Unicorn Leisure who, on coming back from tax exile in Malaga. sold his five-club empire for more than £1 million.
During the same era, Glasgow’s Licensing Board was concerned about the health and safety situation in many city clubs, describing them as ‘pretty horrifying’, and refused to issue dn'nks licences to many venues. The only club trading then which is still open today was the Savoy: ‘Glasgow’s latest discotheque’ in 1980.
Within Glasgow, many felt dissatisfied with the disco clubs. A group of friends set up Splash l at 46 West, aptly in West George Street. Here you could hear music by the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Young Bobby Gillespie took your money on the door and the club was a catalyst for bands like The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub and The Vaselines.
In the Summer of 1993 the curfew was
introduced: in by midnight; out by 2am.
Protest marches and a tree anti-curfew gig by The Shamen in George Square failed to change the council’s mind.
A Northern Soul all-nighter scene was emerging in the outlying towns, however. Amphetamines kept them up through the night in Motherwell and Bellshill; barbiturates brought them down. Club 9 in the Barrion Hotel, Motherwell was labelled ‘best club in the country’ by Blues And Soul magazine. These were the clubs of the early 805 where the teenagers who would go on to form Slam and Streetrave caught the vibe.
In 1987, a ‘nightlife’ section opened on The List’s pages. The buzz words were video screens and laser systems. The place to be was Fury Murry’s — it was mentioned on The Tube after all - and Colin Barr’s night, Fresh at Joe Paparazzi’s. That summer, Lucifers on Jamaica Street became the Sub Club. Later in the year three young DJs started a night at Tin Pan Alley. Slam had arrived.
As the year ended, acid house hit Glasgow. The Sub Club launched its Ecstasy night. Nick Peacock, who had been DJing at Lucifers,
answered an ad in the ’ NME and secured the slot to promote Club Sandino in Scotland. Colin Barr opened The , ’ Choice in March ’89 ' with Harri and Segan: the Radio Clyde DJ was acknowledged for bringing beat-mixing to Glasgow. Having run = nearly all the best nights ‘ - in Glasgow, Slam ' embarked on a tour of , 'l
Scotland and Streetrave 7
organised their first " event at the Ayr Pavilion. ,
In I990, Glasgow become European City of Culture and clubbing ‘ went into overdrive ' with a Sam licence and the club-crawl a reality. Slam organised two enormous raves at the SECC and Strathclyde ' Country Park. Rain, The Tunnel and The Champion opened, only for the latter to close after six months, unable to compete. The A following year a fire in the building next to Tin Pan Alley forced the long running venue to close its doors for good. Under Central Station, the Glasgow’s Glasgow exhibition closed. reopening as The Arches. The Tunnel went from strength to strength and won UK Club Of The Year.
In 1992, Circa. Heaven and Reds opened, but a stabbing in The Tunnel forced the club to introduce metal detectors. The Arches became a fully—fledged club venue with its bizarre theatrical night Cafe Loco occupying Saturday and Slam taking up the Friday residency. Cool Lemon moved into the Sub Club where DJ duo Patterson and Price were quickly dubbed ‘The Dream Team’.
In the Summer of 1993 the tide turned. The curfew was introduced: in by midnight; out by 2am. Protest marches and a free anti-curfew gig by The Shamen in George Square failed to change the council’s mind. It was not all bad. however. Love Boutique opened at The Arches with the Slam DJs and a little known
: kings of Glasgow’s technotronlc dance floor, Stuart and Urdu
transvestite DJ: Jon of The Pleased Women. While superclub tours became a reality, nothing topped Streetrave’s parties at Prestwick Airport.
In 1994 things got better. Slightly. The curfew was extended to lam and later licences became available. A new breed of underground DJ emerged, playing a harder, Detroit sound at clubs like Knucklehead, Pussypower and Rub- A-Dub.
And so to 1995: the year of the guest DJ. If your club ain’t got one, you ain’t got no business. But beware producers who can’t mix, charging extortionate prices for busy, bad nights. Otherwise, get your dancing shoes on and prepare for the next twenty years of clubbing.
16 The List IS Dec l995-ll Jan I996