Glasgow venues round-up: July 2023
From community spaces to classic Glasgow pubs, The Skinny looks at how some of the city’s venues have bounced back and re-emerged after COVID closures
Govanhill Baths has become an impressive force for good in recent years. Finding its feet again after suffering through various COVID restrictions and closures, it has now established itself as a flourishing arts and wellbeing hub in the Southside of Glasgow. Run by a combination of activists, artists, creatives and volunteers, the space is multi-purpose in the broadest sense of the word. A typical month might see it play host to anything from their well-attended upcycling workshops Rags to Riches to youth clubs and gardening classes. A true meeting place for everything good and worthwhile in the local area, Govanhill Baths has a terrific sense of place and aims to serve the people of G41/G42 but is really open to all. Linking up with existing community groups to build networks in the immediate area has helped them ensure it always remains a hive of activity; longer-term plans include a refurbishment of the pool and fitness facilities, returning currently disused elements of the venue to its original purpose. 126 Calder St, G42 7RA
Another community venue making waves in the city is The Unit on South Street just north of the Clyde. The Unit occupies a large warehouse in the Whiteinch industrial estate – managed by social enterprise Well Fed who provided cooked meals to people who were isolating during lockdown, it now operates principally as a community pantry and family activity centre. When the pantry is open it provides free food to whoever shows up – no referral necessary – mainly good quality surplus stuff from nearby businesses. A weekly programme of free games and activities keep the space busy with young families during the week, who make use of the Unit’s huge dimensions and in-house consoles, pool tables and games. The trendy fairy-lit warehouse, equipped with a large outdoor dining area and in-house bar is also available for hire. 870 South St, G14 0SY
Gibson Street’s Stravaigin is a Glasgow institution; the West End venue has remained virtually unchanged since opening in 1994. In 2022, Stravaigin was sold (along with sister venues Ubiquitous Chip and Hanoi Bike Shop) to new owners, who set the wheels in motion for a low-key rebrand, but fans of the bar’s well-established flavour of cosy twinkly warmth won’t be unsettled by the changes. The pub’s familiar dark wood aesthetic remains intact, and with the same kitchen team at the helm the new menu does not stray too far from the simple Scottish dishes that have come to define the bar. A popular roast dinner menu takes centre stage on the weekends. The cellar area now has a refined stylish edge, more wine bar than traditional pub. 28 Gibson St, G12 8NX
Stravaigin. Credit: Yelp Inc.
Hearts broke across Glasgow when iconic Merchant City music bar Blackfriars closed its doors during the pandemic. A bidding war for the space ensued and was won by Base Hospitality Group, who emerged as the continuity candidate – promising to retain as much of the bar’s identity as possible. Small changes have been made, nudging the bar towards a kind of gentrification; it’s hard to imagine a negroni menu with daily specials in a pre-pandemic Blackfriars, but it goes down well in Blackfriars 2.0. Many of the previous regulars still pitch up at the bar, however, a reassuring indication that things have not changed too much. A popular comedy night takes place in the basement on the first Saturday of each month and the same space will play host to a series of Fringe previews across the summer. But rest assured: live music still makes up a chunk of Blackfriars programming, and music fans still make up a sizeable chunk of their clientele. 36 Bell St, G1 1LG