Edinburgh's Liquid Room reopens with extra level and new kit
David Pollock takes a tour of the Liquid Room as it prepares to relaunch after an 18-month closure
It might seem like only the other month that the Liquid Room was closed after a fire broke out in the Indian restaurant upstairs, but to those involved it’s felt like a lifetime. ‘It’s been too long since I’ve actually done my job,’ reflects manager Kath Mackenzie, guiding The List around the Edinburgh club’s new interior, ‘so it’s been great these last few months to actually start speaking to bands and promoters again, and to think about getting the place booked up for the rest of the year.’
There’s a long way to go yet, though. The fire happened in December 2008, all of 18 months ago, and water damage ensured the place was completely unusable afterwards. It was a disaster for the venue and Edinburgh’s clubbing scene without a doubt, particularly considering the loss of La Belle Angele in an even more devastating fire and The Venue to redevelopment over the last decade, but the Liquid Room’s owner John ‘Mick’ McWilliams saw opportunity in the situation. ‘Mick’s been through the mill with this,’ says Mackenzie, ‘but it’s been a labour of love for him ever since work started. He saw the chance to make the Liquid Room everything it can be, and he decided to go for it.’
Probably the biggest change is one the public won’t even see at first. For almost a year, the level below the old dancefloor and the smoking terrace behind the building has been excavated, and the club now houses a basement level, which will effectively double the size of the venue when brought into use. ‘We’re not going to put a timescale on opening it,’ says Mackenzie. ‘It could be a month, six months, a year – the important thing now is to get the club running as before so that it pays for the rest of the redevelopment.’
The main room is taking shape, though, despite the cables hanging from the ceiling, bare breezeblock walls and angle-grinder sparks showering the floor. The entire interior has been stripped back to the shell and replaced, although the room’s dimensions remain much the same. The new stage, balcony and bars will remain in the same place as before, although the capacity will be slightly increased and the toilets, cloakroom and office space will all be improved.
‘The new sound desk we’ve got is state of the art, too,’ says Mackenzie. ‘I’m not a techie, but I can see how excited it’s gotten our sound guys, and we’ve already had bands asking to come and try it out before they go on tour. No other venue in the UK has one. We won’t have wallpaper and glittery scatter cushions, but we do try to get everything just right musically.’
As well as a selection of old Liquid Room nights (Evol, IndiGo, Lovely, Madchester) and new dates like weekly Sunday nighter Jelly Baby, the new venue will host a monthly date from Musika, who welcome opening guest Sasha this fortnight. ‘Deek (Musika’s Derek Martin) told me he had been trying to book Sasha for ages,’ says Mackenzie, ‘and that he didn’t want to put him on anywhere but the Liquid Room. When Mick heard this, he said we must make it happen. Deek set a deadline for us, basically, and it looks like we’ll just be able to meet it.’
Musika Presents Sasha at the Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 17 Jul.