A (very) Brief History of Scottish Clubbing

To coincide with the ongoing Night Fever exhibition at V&A Dundee, we asked some prominent members of the Scottish club circuit to share their clubbing memories

Feature by Nadia Younes | 18 Aug 2021
  • Grrrl Crush

Sandra Marron, aka Madame S, on Utter Gutter at The Riverside Club, Glasgow

“The Riverside Club was such a fabulous place to put a club on – an old ceilidh hall with a sprung floor, one disco ball with a light, candles on the tables and a killer soundsystem. It was the perfect down ‘n’ dirty club venue and even though we eventually moved to The Art School, which was also brilliant, the Riverside days were my favourite… All the nights I shared the stage in The Art School with my fellow resident, and my best friend, Paul 'TheeMrMister' Nicholls still fills me with joy all these years later. Paul passed away in 2010 leaving a huge hole in Glasgow clubland. He was a one-off; a true Glasgow legend.”

Kris Walker on Pure at The Venue, Edinburgh

“I think I might have been 15 the first time I went to Pure, no more than 16 anyway. It was utterly insane and felt like the energy of a 12-hour all-nighter condensed into four hours. It was friendly but really intense, and the music was unreal. Although there were other techno/house clubs about, nobody did it like Pure. Pure was, is, and will always be the daddy!”

Niall Walker on Death Disco at The Arches, Glasgow

“For me, [The Arches] was where the magic happened: Uncle John & Whitelock’s debut gig inside a shack in a makeshift garden at VAULT; Jonny Woo and team lip-synching, fighting and stripping each other at Horse Meat Disco; Bar Art flash-mobbing wearing mirrorball heads, the lycra-clad, bearded baritone Le Gateau Chocolat singing Nessun Dorma, and Ann Liv Young shouting ‘you bunch of A-holes!’ whilst wetting herself onstage – all at seminal club Death Disco.”

Alan Miller on Record Playerz at The Art School, Glasgow

“We promoted the Scissor Sisters’ first live gig in Scotland… [and] it was insanely busy. They were blown away, and said the next time they came back to play, they ONLY wanted to play for us. Their next show came about five months later, and we booked them for Abnormals Anonymous at The Art School, but by then they were in the UK top ten. We met a whole new generation of queer kids who had never been to clubs, and didn’t know that they even existed outside of the Polo and Bennets, and whose first “gay” music experience was seeing the Scissor Sisters on Top of the Pops. That was an amazing night.”

Roberta Pia on Grrrl Crush at The Mash House, Edinburgh

“I used to get so stressed before every Grrrl Crush event that I wondered why I started throwing parties. But once we were in the swing of things, I’d always take a moment to stand back and look at what we’d created and I realised what we were doing was important. Bringing the queer community together, providing a safe space for women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ people and championing them both on stage and off. I’d wake up the next day with my faith in humanity restored. That’s what clubbing has always been about for me – finding love on the dancefloor.”

Ben Rothes on Hilltown Disco at The Reading Rooms, Dundee

“The Reading Rooms was the club the Hilltown Disco collective met at, and were introduced to underground music. This was our home, and the first time we'd been able to curate a full night from start to finish and let Dundee hear what we were about. It was a sell-out crowd that really danced the full night and set the tone for all our nights after.”

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture, V&A Dundee, until 9 Jan 2022