The Classic Grand

Whilst clearly flaunting its roots, has been transformed into an entirely fresh architectural conceit

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 12 Nov 2006

Depending on whom you ask, The Classic Grand was originally an arthouse cinema, showing Ingmar Bergman films at lunchtime, or a grimy porn cinema, frequented by sweaty-palmed teens and rain-coated perverts.

Newly refurbished, the building above the SubClub on Jamaica Street, is comparably split in its loyalties. A glimpse at the program would suggest that the plan is to turn it into a gig venue to rival King Tut's or Nice'n'Sleazy's. On the other hand, the care lavished on the beautiful interiors suggests that it could easily double as a glitzy nightspot or a swish afterparty venue.

Built by interior designer Suzanne, the space keeps the original features of the cinema yet avoids the tacky d├ęcor common to so many of the oppressively ugly bars that litter Glasgow. There is the merest suggestion of a cinema screen, pared from what looks like an art deco surround to a minimal gesture which, whilst clearly flaunting its roots, has been transformed into an entirely fresh architectural conceit.

Two spaces, one with a stage for live music, the other resembling a cocktail lounge with a small dancefloor, still allow for intimacy. Like the famous Astoria in London, seats and tables are incorporated into the spaces, not forced to play second fiddle to the mosh pits, thus giving the spaces the glamorous languor that seems to have been lost in live music venues.

The Classic Grand has already seen packed gigs from My Latest Novel and The Royal We, with similarly stuffed club nights like White Heat proving the Grand's versatility. Peter Hook (New Order) even popped down to spin a few records, although it sounded as if he'd forgotten to bring any that he didn't actually perform on. This combination of musical nous, architectural ambition and glitz is an incredibly rare thing, meaning that The Classic Grand seems to be yanking all the right chains. Perhaps it always did. Whether it actually ever achieves the status of Glasgow's best is open to conjecture, however it has certainly been raised on the best possible foundations.