The Venue: How? Why? and Goodbye...

We're More Than a Venue, We're a Good Laugh!'

Feature by Xavier Toby | 15 Jun 2006

Tell Me It Isn't So! The Venue is Closing?! A Venue To Be Remembered

Asking people their favourite memory about this Edinburgh nightlife institution is a tricky business, since most have trouble remembering what happens there. For most, it's an extended haze of intense eardrum-exploding live sets where the band are leaping around only metres from you, and club nights full of familiar faces which seem to be over only minutes after they've started. Then there's the entertainment of watching intoxicated mates crashing down the world's most treacherous stairs, hiding in the cooler when it's your turn to buy the Red Stripe or stumbling about Calton Road at 3am looking for an after-party. So why is it all going to end?

Sitting down with Jaq, Lloyd and Stewart of Raw Promotions who have managed the Venue for the past five years, we chatted about what was planned for the last couple of weekends, as well as the truth about why the Venue was forced to close, and all those rumours about where it may be moved.

Come June 10 it'll all be over, as the Venue celebrates its last night EVER. The festivities started in May as regular club nights including Joy, Xplicit, Obscene and Optimo had their farewell shows. The final weekend features Tokyo Blu and Pure, according to Stewart, Pure "is responsible for more damaged people than any other club in Scotland; there's not been the same buzz about a club since." (See Beats and Sounds for exact details.)

Previously it was known as rock venue the Jailhouse, and no-one really knows when that first opened, we know it was at least 26 years ago. Now the closing of one of Edinburgh's only medium sized venues is upon us, a huge void will be left in the local live music and clubbing scenes.

The 400 capacity live music space has hosted acts including: The Strokes, Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, Radiohead, Stone Roses, Franz Ferdinand and Roots Manuva to name but a few, and it was the first medium sized venue devoted to live music in Scotland – opening 11 years before King Tuts in Glasgow. Promoters will be less likely to bring acts to town because unlike Glasgow, Edinburgh does not have a wealth of medium sized inner-city venues. "There certainly is a great opportunity there for someone else," commented Stewart.

News first broke of the closure in February 2004. "We were just leasing the building, so after it was sold that was it," said Stewart. Lloyd explained, "the offices next door are to be turned into apartments, but that development couldn't proceed with a banging nightclub on its doorstep, so they bought the building." Raw Promotions did consider buying the building outright, but just didn't have the backing to compete with a multi-million pound development company.

They were disappointed to say the least. "When we found out, we were the busiest club in town and continually encouraging better things," said Lloyd. "It's very hard to continue to grow when people know you're not going to be around for much longer."

News of the sale was especially poorly timed since extensive renovations had just been completed. When Raw Promotions initially took over the building it was a, "shambles," according to Stewart. "We gutted the place, put in new flooring, new dance-floor, two new stages, and a complete new high-spec technical setup." Lloyd added, "For two years, we were doing something every single week to improve the place."

It also took about two years to encourage promoters back to the club. "When we first moved in," said Stewart, "there was only nasty techno and gabba clubs. We let everything run for three months, and then made a decision on who stayed and who went. After seeing what we had, we just got rid of everything."

For months now rumours about The Venue moving have been rife but Lloyd confirmed that, "We will be taking a well earned break. Running this place consumes you." Stewart admitted that, "we were looking at the Honeycomb and a few other places, but that would've involved a large change in what we are doing and a lot of work to get it going."

So The Venue is closing down forever, no use whingeing about over a pint anymore to your gig-going and techno-head friends. Now it's time to concentrate on giving that thumping, scummy looking building on Calton Road the send-off it deserves; it's one of the last throws of proper underground hardcore clubbing left. Get down there as often as you can, while you can for the type of night that for years to come, you're going to struggle to remember.

Lastly a massive THANK YOU to The Venue from everyone at The Skinny for their amazing support right from the beginning.

Last Night Ever at The Venue, June 10, 10.30pm