Edinburgh: The Bowery
- Erika Stevenson
- 10 September 2009
Hunting for an alternative night out? Innovative new art bar and performance venue, The Bowery, promises to be the place you’ve been searching for. Erika Stevenson pops by for gin in teacups
Buzzing away in the basement of an old church, at the heart of the old Roxy Art House, the eager city explorer might find discovering The Bowery an adventure in itself. Whilst, like at the end of every treasure hunt, there awaits an irresistible reward, on descending into The Bowery you’ll feel more like you’ve disappeared down a rabbit hole and landed in indie heaven.
Adopting its name from the street in New York’s lower east side, Edinburgh’s interpretation of The Bowery takes the form of a fresh arts performance venue, which, since opening last year, has become one of the city’s best kept secrets. An intriguing den of quirky spaces, it provides a mix of environments for the art and music enthusiast. Part granny’s sitting-room, part glowing love nest; the lounge hosts lively beats from local DJs while the bar cries ‘drink me’. Retiring to the cosy library room, home of the resident stuffed ferret, you can curl up on the sofa and, in true mad hatter style, sip your tipple out of a flowery teacup.
The live performance space maintains an intimate quality with echoing acoustics and it’s proved the ideal place for many rising bands, as well as exciting established acts from around the globe. The queen of The Bowery, Ruth Moir, aims to bring the energy she found in her beloved New York to Scotland’s capital.
‘There was a real need for a new gig space, a place that brought together music, art, and general socialising,’ she explains. ‘I think the more people putting on gigs that interest people, the more bands will start thinking about Edinburgh as the place to go.’
The ethos of The Bowery also promotes interaction with aspiring visual artists, encouraging proposals for site specific art and performance. Whether it be a life drawing class or a puppet making workshop, there is forever something original cropping up here to spark your interest.
‘We aim to create a space that is functional for many art forms; having performance art, exhibitions, animation and sculpture as well as live music. I think we might just have captured what was missing in Edinburgh,’ says Moir.
With craft fairs, events for new writers, art sessions and free popcorn a plenty, it’s enough to make you think you’ve wandered into your very own wonderland. As Moir points out, ‘where else can you go that has a library, a typewriter, a disco toilet, such varied artistic events and a bar that serves you G&T in teacups – all under one roof?’
And in navigating through this underground warren, you’ll find yourself amongst the grassroots of Edinburgh’s budding music-arts scene. In this case it’s tricky to depart without the smug suspicion that you’ve just stumbled upon something novel, fresh and growing. You’ll leave feeling utterly refreshed, like you’ve just been treated to a pint and a rock soundtrack at a hip grannies house.
The Bowery, Roxy Art House, Edinburgh. For regular listings and updates visit www.thebowery.org.uk