Birthday Boys: Seven Years of Thunder Disco Club

We chat to party-starters Thunder Disco about their seven action-packed years in the game, from their early beginnings at The Lite Club to their upcoming birthday celebrations at Sub Club with Horse Meat Disco

Feature by Claire Francis | 21 Nov 2016
  • Thunder Disco

Thunder Disco Club are all about throwing a party. Armed with a plethora of house, disco, techno and 80s throwdown grooves, TDC strongly believe in experimenting with new concepts that give each party its own identity. Over the years, they've welcomed an illustrious and diverse string of guests to their ever popular club nights, including Ben UFOFloating Points, Paranoid London, Bicep, Mr. G, Todd Terje, Auntie Flo and Maurice Fulton

Ahead of their Thunder Disco 7th Birthday celebrations at Sub Club later this month, we sat down with Rory Hamilton and James Sutherland, the duo behind the long-running club night, to look back on where it all began.

Tell us the story behind Thunder Disco – when and where did it begin, and where did the name come from?

Ha, the name. We were young, dumb and full of fun, but all shared a mutual passion for Italo disco, musical scores, 70s/80s cult cinema and exploitation movie artwork. So the name evolved as a sort of tongue-in-cheek ode to these things, alongside a bundle of ridiculous taglines we used on our own poster art. For instance, 'Riding the most lethal weapon ever made', 'You can’t outrun the Thunder', and 'Make a date to detonate'.

We first kicked things off back in 2009, packing out a venue with friends, movers and shakers from Glasgow looking for a new night out. It began at the unlikely and disused space The Lite Club, which now sadly no longer exists. All the parties followed the idea of experimenting with new concepts that gave each party its own identity, spinning this out through our own brand of audio-visual ‘disco-xploitation’: as an ode to cult cinema & 80s betamax-inspired sleaze. 

What inspired you to create a disco-slanted club night in Scotland? And what do you think has been the key to your longevity?

We’ve always been about the party. If it looks good with clothes on, it probably looks better with clothes off. We’ve always loved the idea of using a combination of sounds throughout our nights, and obviously as the years progress your sound diversifies further, so we’ve definitely tried not to pigeon hole ourselves as a purist disco night. We’ve always liked to support and showcase international and local DJs/live acts from across the spectrum that keep people entertained and also been very fortunate to promote these in some Glasgow’s most respected institutions.

In your opinion, what has been your favourite Thunder Disco event to date?

We have a few favourites. The ones that stick out back in the day was our Factor 50 Off Sonar Rooftop party on top of the Axel Hotel alongside (Sub Club residents) Sensu. The atmosphere was perfect and we basically packed it out with Glaswegians – guys and girls tanning bottles of champagne in a giant hot tub imagining they were something out of a Miami Vice wrap party. Very recently we showcased our friends Bicep and their exclusive live show, which is one of the our favourite live shows to date.

Talk us through some of the highlights – and lowlights – over the past seven years?

Undoubtably becoming part of the Sub Club family and maintaining our five year residency. Showcasing the first Paranoid London Live Set at Sub Club, a Floating Points Disco Set, Maurice Fulton and our Space is the Place themed night, plus the Warriors-themed warehouse party back in the slightly derelict-looking SWG3 back in 2010.

We've also collaborated with Electric Frog on a variety of events including Todd Terje at New Year's – or Toddmanay. Our series of sold out Halloween Parties have always been lots of fun 'cause we take the production pretty seriously.

In your eyes, how has Scotland's clubbing scene changed over the past seven years?

The word "Hype" tends to send shivers down our spines. Is it now a cliche to say in an interview that Glasgow is very forward-thinking? But it's definitely true, and for such a small city there’s always great music and inspiring people playing and making music. Without a doubt, witnessing The Arches shutting down was also a gigantic cultural set back, putting uncertainly in the minds of promoters, club owners and club goers.

For better or worse, another obvious change seen in the last seven years is social media’s impact on dance music. Of course, it did exist when we started out but has become much more prolific in the last three or four years. It’s great to see much more attention on Glasgow’s dance industry which in turn has seen a bigger demand for more great DJs, producers and diversity around the city. All that said and done, Glasgow’s crowd is and will always be by far the most involved on the dance floor.

What does the 7th Birthday celebration mean to you, and what are your hopes and aspirations for the coming years?

It’s just great that we still love putting on parties and dancing hard. For the coming years we just want to keep that spirit alive, with people having as much fun as physically possible!

Thunder Disco's 7th Birthday with Horse Meat Disco is at Sub Club on Fri 25 Nov, 11pm-3am