ABC: Going Down to Alphabet Street


In any cinema, you’d be thrown out for making as much noise as the average ABC punter. Thank God then, for the canny club-owners who turned it from boring movie-house to hedonistic pleasure-drome. David Pollock meets those responsible.

Glasgow enjoys an embarrassment of riches when it comes to live music venues. Of course the Barrowland, still enjoying the same atmosphere it held when it was a 1960s dancehall, is the most widely-famed, while the intimate Nice’n’Sleazy and King Tut’s all the way up to the Southside’s large Carling Academy are regularly packed out by the city’s music-loving crowds.

Yet there’s one thing that makes the ABC the envy of them all, and that’s its location. Sitting right on the centre of Sauchiehall Street, the venue – the first place to show a movie in Scotland in 1896 and a former circus, which was reopened after a period of disuse earlier this decade – is at the heart of Glasgow’s major thoroughfare for weekend drinkers and clubbers. This means it doesn’t just cater for 1250-capacity gigs in its main hall or for 350-capacity shows in the ABC2 downstairs, but also manages to present a thriving array of club nights from Thursday to Sunday.

‘We didn’t expect our club nights to be as popular as they are,’ says general manager Peter McShane. ‘When it’s university term time, our Saturday night regularly sells out. It’s probably the most popular night out in Glasgow.’

McShane says the club policy is led by current and classic indie which means no cheesy pop, no R’n’B, and a lot of indie, emo and electro. And, of course, there are also gigs on almost every night, recent names including Dizzee Rascal, Soulwax, Travis, Shellac and Jarvis Cocker.

All this and the largest mirror ball in Scotland.

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