Clubs Retro perspective David Pollock talks to Divine, Glasgow’s longest running club night, as they reach their 20th birthday
THE BEST DANCEFLOOR ACTION
✽✽ Eyes Wide Open A sixth birthday party for the garage and psychedelic rock night, with live bands The Thanes and EL Toro alongside guest DJs. Blackfriars, Glasgow, Fri 3 Dec. ✽✽ Killer Kitsch, Muck and Dirty Noise Three of Glasgow’s best young clubs team up to present Milanese house team Reset! (Cheap Thrills). Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 3 Dec. ✽✽ Tokyoblu The DJs at Tokyoblu give you a chance to take home some of the magic with their second ‘CD Grab’ special with 250 mix CDs available over the night. Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 3 Dec. ✽✽ Club Noir’s Christmas Party It’s early, but what the hell? Get dressed up and enjoy a night of seasonal burlesque, with guest band The Seventeenth Century. O2 Academy, Glasgow, Sat 4 Dec. ✽✽ Huntleys & Palmers Audio Club It’s the third birthday of this eclectic electronic night, and resident Andrew Thomson will be joined by very special guest Matthew Dear (live). Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 4 Dec. ✽✽ JakN Pre-Xmas showcase of Edinburgh techno talent taking in live sets (Morphamish), three decks (Se3onz) and back- to-back action (The Apprentice vs FuK-NuT). The Store, Edinburgh, Sat 4 Dec. ✽✽ Balkanarama Balkan beats and gypsy jazz collide in a majestic melting pot of DJs, live acts, musicians and belly dancing. Studio 24, Edinburgh, Fri 10 Dec; Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 11 Dec. ✽✽ Moda & Mixmag Tour 2010 An excellent line-up of young producers and DJs, including Jack Beats, Surkin, Jaymo & Andy George and Union. Arches, Glasgow, Sat 11 Dec. ✽✽ Ill Behaviour Sheffield bleep-master Toddla T (pictured) supplies the digital dub delights, backed up my MC Serocee. Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Thu 16 Dec. 2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 37
‘T wenty years ago I was a student at the Art ‘Divine’ School,’ Symington. ‘One day a newsletter went round all the departments saying that the students’ union was looking for a DJ. I’d run a few clubs and I could design posters, so I handed in a mixtape. A week went by, and I popped back in to ask about my application. They were really impressed, they said, and they were going to give me a trial. Fantastic! And also, they told me, no-one else had applied for it anyway.’
It’s hardly an auspicious start. Yet here we are 20
later celebrating years the anniversary of Glasgow’s longest running club night, a student- and scenester-friendly blend of ‘60s and soul, heavyweight funk, dynamite ska, psychedelic freakbeats and obscure rock’n’roll.’ Generations have now set the Divine dancefloor. ‘There are people who first came when the club started then disappeared for years,’ says Symington, fresh back from a weekend digging for Polish psychedelia 7”s at a record fair in Utrecht, ‘and now they’re back with their kids. It’s funny how the term ‘retro’ evolves – when I started it meant the 60s and 70s, now it’s the 90s.’
These old-timers aren’t the night’s only esteemed guests, as many of Glasgow’s best bands of the last two decades have been regulars at some point or other. ‘Belle & Sebastian still come to the club,’ says Symington (who runs Singles Night at the Flying Duck with the group’s Chris Geddes), ‘but I knew most of them from the club before they were even in
‘ALL I LIKE TO DO IS BUY RECORDS, TALK ABOUT RECORDS AND PLAY RECORDS’
bands, so they don’t exactly feel like celebrities.’ Other big names have also passed though the doors – Jarvis Cocker used to come along before Pulp made the big time and The White Stripes even dropped by a couple of times. ‘I remember one of my mates was chatting to Jack White outside in the smoking bit and he had absolutely no idea who he was. “Who do your band sound like?” my mate asked. “Take a look at me,” said Jack, “who do you think we sound like?” “Hmm,” said my mate, “maybe like a cross between Goldfrapp and Can?” Jack creased up at that.’
There will be another band to add to the list after this special birthday party, with The Privates Hammond Orchestra playing a live set. ‘They’re a proper 60s group,’ says Symington, ‘with a vintage Hammond sound played through an old valve PA system, so they’ll suit Divine perfectly. Like most of my friends, I know them through the club.’ So what will he do when the GSA’s union closes shortly for a planned programme of demolition and redevelopment? ‘That’s the million dollar question,’ he muses. ‘After this length of time, would I be able to uproot it and hold it somewhere other than the Vic? Should I just end it and start something completely fresh?
‘I don’t know, I should probably be more clued-up about what’s happening with things like the venue, but really all I like to do is look for records, talk about records and play those records one Saturday every month, that’s what it’s all about for me.’ Divine’s 20th Birthday Party is at the Art School’s Vic Bar, Glasgow, Sat 4 Dec.