Illustration Marianne Wilson

The parties pushing Glasgow’s club scene forward

How club nights like Fuse, Peach, and Nightrave are shaking up the after hours party landscape

Cities undergoing change often produce the most era-defining music scenes. The Madchester movement emerged from the smokestack city’s 1980s deindustrialisation, and Berlin’s techno explosion followed the fall of the East and West dividing wall. While Glasgow has long been heralded as a musical innovator, with party-slash-record labels Numbers and LuckyMe now regarded as among the best in the world, the next generation of DJs and promoters are ushering in a new phase of progress. For this new wave, broadening the landscape with new genres, trying out niche concepts as well as pushing for diversity, inclusivity, and clubber safety are top of the agenda.

But for all the good work that organisations such as PoC and LGBTQ-supporting Grassroots Glasgow is doing, enacting change in a city with a history of a laddish ‘taps aff’ mentality has perhaps been a slower slog than elsewhere. “When I started running nights, no one was having these conversations in Glasgow,” says Catriona Reilly, booker at the ten-year-old live music and club space Stereo, and promoter of a variety of events including nostalgic R&B-focused Push It and femme-centric queer night Grind Your Axe. “It was really difficult to get people to take it seriously, and a lot of venues were scared because they felt like it might negatively impact their business.”

For a taste of the ever-expanding musical horizons, check out the underground queer stalwart Shoot Your Shot or the new wave, cold wave, post-punk, and industrial night So Low. Glasgow’s unwaveringly strict licensing laws, where nightclubs must close at 3am, have also created a unique after hours party scene. “There are various venues across the city where you can go and you pay £10 in, just like you do at a club and you can stay until ten in the morning,” DJ/producer Rebecca Vasmant, whose decade-long career has included promoting Modal, a night at the city’s iconic Sub Club fusing electronic music with jazz, explains. Perhaps because of this extra competition, venues such as The Art School, La Cheetah, Broadcast, and Stereo are especially supportive of the city’s subcultural innovation, and it’s across these spaces where some of Glasgow’s most exciting promoters host their events. These are just a few of them.

NIGHTRAVE

DJ/producer Nightwave is busy with a lot of things: releasing on esteemed labels like Fool’s Gold and Unknown to the Unknown, running her own imprint Heka Trax, organising and teaching music workshops for women with Producergirls, and scoring films. As a promoter, she’s also introduced more sounds to Glasgow’s techno and house-obsessed clubbers, with grime nights at Broadcast, an art exhibition by visual artist Ashes57 at SWG3, and a Skepta album listening party among her long list of successful achievements. Nightrave, her regular residency at basement club La Cheetah, is one of her most visible accomplishments, having now been running for five years.

“I started the night to shake things up a bit in Glasgow, especially as there weren’t many women being booked or running nights,” Nightwave explains. “This has changed a lot now, and it’s amazing to see.” Having taken Nightrave to cities like Edinburgh, Venice, Vienna, and Ljubljana, Nightwave says that “Glasgow is extremely well-educated and the best crowd in the world. However, it can (rarely) also be the toughest and most judgemental. I’ve had people ‘complain’ about my music variety before – but people are increasingly open-minded, so the risks are worth taking.”

FUSE

Inspired by the work of post-humanist artists Pussykrew and digital futurist Hirad Sab, FUSE is an audio-visual club night created by VJs Sofya Staune and Holly McGowan, aka VAJ.Power. The pair got to know each other during 3am coffee breaks in Glasgow School of Art halls. “The underground club scene is very political – it’s doing a lot more than white-straight-male, institution-based fine art is doing overall,” Staune explains when asked what motivated her to get into promoting in December 2016.

With beginnings that favoured grime, FUSE now curates lineups that “aim to be diverse in a sense that, if you book people who have different experiences in life, it’s going to show in their art, in their music.” The night also aims to “support those artists who might feel their experiences are overlooked.” In practice, this means the duo host VJing workshops, with resulting visuals shown during opening acts, before headliners such as Berlin experimentalist Ziúr and Manchester’s Riddim Rally champion Anz deliver genre-bashing sets that pay no heed to steady BPMs. “There were people behind me going ‘this is such a great night’, and then the people in front of me who were a bit confused,” Staune recalls of reactions to that particular event. “But we think it’s very important to take risks and trust our gut. We always try to bring something new to the table and make it a platform for our artists to feel free to experiment.”

TOMBOY

“Female rap is like watching lesbian porn,” asserts Genoa-born Mara Bragagnolo. “It might be intense, but you just know that no guy is going to come up and make you feel degraded as a woman.” Bragagnolo started The Art School-based female rap night Tomboy in November 2016. “The biggest problem with women is a lack of confidence. Because society just grabs it away from you, insecurity is inside of us all the time. I’m not saying female rap will give (confidence) to all women, but it gives it to me, so I’m sure someone else will get that kind of same boost.”

Bragagnolo feels rap and grime are still male-dominated genres, and so that it was important to offer emerging artists like Laughta and Lady Shocker a space where they could take centre stage. “A lot of female rappers, especially in London, are on support slots, and here they’re headlining – which is what they deserve,” she explains, adding that Glasgow is much more open to ideas that wouldn’t be possible in the capital. “Everybody in London is trying to compete and be the coolest or the most edgy, whereas if you do something in Glasgow people are like, ‘Yeah, let’s go to that.’”

PEACH

Peach, the brainchild of Radar Radio DJ K4CIE, was born because the selector “felt that the urban scene was lacking female presence at club nights and events.” From the start, K4CIE wanted Peach to attract a more diverse crowd. “It was trial and error at the start, but we have our door girl Romi, who is a vital part of our team,” K4CIE explains. “She has the right to decline anyone, because our job is to help create a safer space – not only for females but for everyone, no matter race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs etc. Everyone’s welcome. We do not tolerate any hate. We make that crystal clear.”

A Peach dancefloor is hot and heady with a typical night seeing UK trap artists such as IAMDDB getting wheeled up again and again for a closely packed crowd dancing hard. “We don’t play music to fit in the box, just one room full of real people looking to have a good time,” K4CIE says. “The good thing is clubs are open to new ideas, they listen to you and, in our experience, are very supportive. Their willingness to try something new and expand is half the battle for new promoters.”

WHERE PEOPLE SLEEP

The Where People Sleep collective was born when three friends, Amy DG, Samantha Dick, and Shaheeda Sinckler, turned their West End flat into an event space. “Me and Samantha were at a bit of a loose end,” recalls founder Sinckler. “She didn’t get into art school that year and I’d dropped out of uni, so we kind of tried to look for something to do.” The trio’s events, which now also include club nights outside of the flat, explore themes as wide ranging as noise art and responses to the #MeToo movement.

Their latest exhibition, a collaboration with artist Lucy Lamort titled Calm Down, Dear!, aimed to “create a space where the ‘voice’ and particularly the ‘collective voice’ is seen as this powerful and important tool,” as Samantha Dick explains. “We decided to fabricate a stage plinth for the centre of the biggest hallway so that each performer could fill the space with their own words during the opening and this alongside the all-female DJ lineup later, really helped to amplify this core idea.” The collective have found their events so popular, queues can go around the block. Amy DG, who studies Painting & Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art, says that they only found out how long their 2016 New Year’s Eve party went on for as “letters from the police said that the speakers were confiscated on January 2 at 2am.”

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