Simon Stokes: Bringing Down The Haus

With the closure of The Soundhaus looming we talk to longtime devotee and Point 4 resident Simon Stokes about what made the place so different and how it informed his clubbing outlook

Article by Calum Sutherland | 01 Feb 2012

When it comes to buoyant, wall bending house and techno, Simon Stokes is one of Glasgow’s most prominent DJs, consistent producers and a veteran of one of the city’s most revered nightspots, the Soundhaus. As one of the main men behind Point 4, a multi-faceted electronic carnival which has been rocking the club for over a year, Stokes will have one hand on the final curtain call of the historic venue when it closes its doors for good on the first weekend of February. Having played out in every venue of note within the city limits and beyond, Simon is the perfect ambassador to take The Skinny through the heyday of the Soundhaus with a series of hazy memories and first hand and head experiences.

“I moved to Glasgow in 2001 and was introduced to the Soundhaus through people I met in college,” says Simon. “I’d been to the Subbie and other clubs in the city before, but the Soundhaus was something completely different. It had a more intense, underground feeling. I started going to nights like Chakra and Monox regularly because it was something completely different, especially Chakra which had a new theme for every night.

“I partied there for many years and eventually got to the point where I was playing out to people. The first time I ever played a live set was at Off the Record, which was run by Ronin and the Animal Farm guys. It was just amazing, my first experience of a live set and the line up was Mike Huckaby, then Slam, then I was playing 4am to 5am and it was still packed in the main room. It was where I DJ’d for the first time so that’s really two of my greatest moments. When you get unleashed on a crowd to do ‘your thing’ for the first time it’s special  and both my DJ and live set cherries were popped by the Soundhaus. It’s amazing to have Point 4 as the last big house and techno party, it’s definitely going to be a mixed bag of emotions. We’ve got everyone back, the Animal Farm guys, Highlife and Kreep too, it seems fitting to finish it off with all the people who got me into it. Bittersweet man.”

So what was it that set the Soundhaus apart in the first place? “It was just totally different from anywhere else really. As a private members club it was open much later, it had this sort of semi-legal vibe that people really craved at the time, it felt less commercial, more like a warehouse rave or something. There were no toilets, only a few portaloos in a corridor somewhere! This is around 2002-03, so I have some very hazy memories of that time.”

“You know, it was really the perfect introduction to going even further into Glasgow’s underground music scene, they were booking different artists and you could go and experience something totally different each time. One night there’d maybe be some mad reggae on and the next night just really pounding techno and it was really diverse and had a totally different feeling, something set it apart from other clubs. For example, Sub Club has remained a constant; constantly excellent, it’s great. The Soundhaus changed quite a lot over the years, it became more ‘legal’, less like a warehouse rave kind of thing, more normal opening hours etc. It definitely built up a big reputation.”

Did the club gain a notorious reputation outwith the scene as a result then? “Yeah, I mean, they got constantly hammered by licensing laws and all that, they definitely set themselves apart from the pack and I think that doesn’t go down well with councils and things like that. They want to know exactly what’s going on everywhere all the time, and that played a big part in the clamping down."

I guess the members only thing lent itself a lot to Soundhaus’ unique quality as well then? I take it you’re still a member? "Yeah, I’ve always been a member but these days I’m a preferential member because I’m running nights there, but it was always nice because you felt like you were a part of... something. Back in the early to mid 2000s that was the only place all of our friends were going because the Soundhaus felt different every time. You know, one night there might be people massaging you in the corridors, people doing hair stuff, it was much more like there was a relaxed feeling of freedom. I think that the private members thing really lent itself to that because you felt like you were a part of something a bit different to what everyone else was getting up to in Glasgow, it's one of the reasons we were drawn to it."

Any favourite memories of the Soundhaus over the years? "It’s difficult to pin down anything specific as my whole group of friends always used to just head down to our favourite nights regardless of who was on. We had a loyalty to the nights at the Soundhaus that we didn’t have with other clubs.  Normally you’d just go for the guests but there, we just went for the club."

And the Soundhaus legacy? "I think it’ll leave fond memories for a lot of Glasgow clubbers, especially the older contingent that maybe didn’t feel at home other places, you know, older club people that are still deeply into electronic music; that’s what a lot of the Soundhaus’ crowd consisted of."

It sounds like your personal wardrobe into techno Narnia. "Totally man. Sometimes you would walk in and it was just chaos, a totally different vibe. It was something totally new for the city, absolute class and somewhere you could get such diversity and such a great atmosphere that was unrivalled in its heyday."

Irreplaceable then? "Oh yeah. I mean, there’s such strict licensing laws and such a heavy clampdown on anything considered ‘rave culture’ (whatever that is). I think you either need to go the fully unlicensed after party sort of direction or you’ve got to be a legitimate, slick club. There’s no middle ground anymore, and nowhere that has that ‘we’ll just close when we close’ sort of thing. That was unique to the Soundhaus and I don’t think that’ll be replaced anytime soon."

The final Point 4 at The Soundhaus will be Fri 3rd Feb This interview is an extended version of the article that appeared in the February issue.