Sub one zero

Back in the days when clubs were still called discos, Glasgow’s Sub Club was pummelling the eardrums of partygoers with the euphoric sounds of early house. On the eve of the ground-breaking club’s tenth birthday, Rory Weller speaks to its founding fathers, and (below) gives a year-by-year account of a decade at the forefront of dance-music.

‘On a good night. the atmosphere in the Sub Club beats anywhere else in the world.’ Good quote. but who said it? Well. just about anyone you speak to about the club now celebrating ten years as a

pioneering underground innovator.

Brian Mullen. manager of the club from 87 to 93. sees the success ofthe club as an organic thing. ‘I wish I could say it was planned.’ he comments. ‘but it fashioned itself by the people who came. and how much they wanted to enjoy each other’s company and

the music.’

Two things distinguished the club from other

DJ Harrl ‘nitespots‘ at the time. Firstly as continues to be the case there was the music. Hip hop. early Chicago house and The Sound of Philly was a world away from the late 80s dross available in most other clubs. Secondly. it was hard to get past the door. ‘We did try and make it difficult to get in.’ admits Mullen. ‘Once they [the punters] were in though. the threat of being barred made them behave. It was something people wanted to be part of. There was a great camaraderie.‘

Paul Crawford. current promotions manager and Subbie stalwart got knocked back three times before finally making it past the door at the age ofnineteen. ‘Getting turned away made me all the more


determined to get in,’ he says.

The KB rate at the Sub is infamous, but it’s there for a reason, not just bouncer ego-kicks. ‘It guards a safe environment for people to enjoy themselves and know they can dance how they like, wear what they like and be how they like as long as they’re not being offensive to anyone,’ Crawford explains. ‘The people who come down are more liberal and open-minded about music, drugs and sex even. It's no coincidence that these people are here. There’s a common bond between them. It may be an accident that it happened but it‘s no accident that it retained it.’

When it comes down to it though, the Sub Club’s just a sweaty box with music. But that's the whole point. Slam, now at The Arches and long considered one of the UK's best club nights, was at the Subbie for six years. And for those behind Slam the Sub Club was about how good your tunes were, not how many retractable dancefioor swimming pools you had. ‘Clubs in Ibiza had better visuals and more luxuriant settings.‘ says Slam manager Dave Clarke. ‘But musically we were holding our own throughout

One man who’s more than qualified to talk about the Subbie’s ten-year history is Harri: the godfather DJ of Scottish house music whose name is now synonymous with the club. Naturally he’s keen on the place. ‘I see the Sub as a second home,’ Harri says. ‘It’s reliable and trusty. Creativer it’s better than any club I’ve seen anywhere and the management care about the music which is pretty unusual. It’s always been about quality music and quality people, and still is.‘ (Rory Weller)

The Sub Club Tenth birthday runs I 0-13 Oct. See listings for details of specific nights.

Those were the years that were

1986 Graham Wilson runs weekend nights in the subterranean venue. Lucifers Nightclub on Jamaica Street. The nights are entitled Sub Club: a club within a club. Sam Piacentini, Peter McKeman. Nick Peacock. Euan Dale and Harri are the DJs playing soul, funk jazz and hip hop.

1987 Wilson goes into partnership with Greg MacLeod and renames the venue the Sub Club. The DJ rosta changes to include Wilson himself plus Harri. Yogi. Bob Jeffries. Segun and Michael MacCrimmon.

1988 After running nights in Fury Murry‘s with Ham'. and Slam nights at Tin Pan Alley. Stuart MacMillan and Orde Meikle open up Joy on a Friday in the Sub.

1989 The club is regarded in the same league as The Hacienda, and Mike Pickering and Graeme Park from the

Heard. Harri and Slam start Blackmarket on Thursdays.

1992 Tony and Kenny MacCrimmon buy the club and Slam give up their Friday to start their now-

Manchester club guest. The club is closed down for six weeks after environmental health find asbestos in a back room. The license is returned only after a court battle.

1990 In addition to Friday nights in

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the club, Slam team up with Harri to take on the Saturdays with Atlantis. One night of unparalleled guests include Justin Robertson. Roger Sanchez and Todd Terry on the same bill.

1991 Illustrious guests on Saturdays are Andrew Weatherall. Glenn Gunner, Nicky Holloway and Larry

famous night at the Arches. Ju J u featuring Harri, Oscar and Nick Peacock replaces Slam. The Talking Loud tour visits with Giles Peterson. Norman Jay and K Creative. Pickering returns with M

People to play their first Scottish gig. 1993 Andrew Weatherall and Darren Emerson guest at Atlantis. DJ Pierre plays at Oscar and Nigel Hayes’ Sunday Club America, and Domenic (another Subbie DJ superstar) joins the line-up on Saturdays for the first time. 1994 Following differences between them and the club, the Slam crew are asked to leave. Saturday at the Sub Club is now Ham', Oscar and Domenic’s domain. Red Cell opens on a Thursday with Mark Ryall and Martin Collins. Dem'ck May and Josh Wink guest.

1995 Friday becomes The Yard with Gareth Somerville (Yip Yap. Edinburgh) where Lil Louis guests in August. Derrick May, Carl Craig. Stacey Pullen. Kenny Larkin and Gemini play on the Saturday. Dave Angel, Dave Clarke and Mark Broom guest at Red Cell.

19% Carl Craig, Stacey Pullen. LTJ Bukem, Alex Reece. Doc Scott and Weatherall guest. Fn'day rotates between Lo-Fi. Hybrid, Timeless and Tangent. Oscar leaves the Saturday. Thursday becomes Red Cell with Mark Ryall. Domenic, Twitch and Richard Grey. The Sub Club sign a four-album deal with the giant BMG record company.

The List 4-I7 Oct 1996 71