A touch of class
David Pollock checks out Cabaret Voltaire’s new clubbing experience as The Speakeasy launches at Sugabeat
When The List visited Cabaret Voltaire there were two-and-a-half weeks to go until the opening night of the Speakeasy – the Cab’s revolutionary new second floor – and refurbishment work was building to a frantic pace. As tools were downed for the day, the Cab’s manager Sarah David showed us around the space, situated in one of the many old vaults on Blair Street where the secondary venue will be situated, and the grand plans she has for it can be seen starting to emerge from the timber and tile dust.
Once complete, the Speakeasy won’t be so much an extra clubbing area as a whole different way of experiencing your night out. While the party goes on downstairs in the main club, the new space will offer sunken seating and table drinks service, with plasma screens around the walls presenting a live feed of the night’s DJs and live acts. There will also be a small stage to accommodate intimate acoustic gigs earlier in the evening, while street level access means it can be hired out for private functions.
‘As people get to a certain age they don’t suddenly stop liking underground music and go off to listen to Westlife,’ says David. ‘They just require something extra from a night out: seats, being able to hear the conversation, and being able to get a drink with your friends. So you can book a table here at no cost and get all that, but you can still see and hear the club or even head down to the main dancefloor knowing you’ll still have a seat on your return, and be a part of the scene.
‘Lots of clubbers don’t like having to queue seven deep at a bar, and – speaking from personal experience – when girls can afford nice shoes they don’t want to be on their feet all night. Of course the Speakeasy’s for everyone, but it helps older clubbers come for a night out and not feel alienated.’
David and her partner Tim Makin – who has been working tirelessly on the redevelopment since June – have been looking to expand the Cab since they took over almost three years ago. Yet, the Speakeasy’s format only came to her when she was in the City Café with a group of friends, who were all put off going to the Cab come 1am by ‘the queue down the street, the packed smoking area, and the steam rising from the club’. Where any popular, good quality club might become a victim of its own success in a similar fashion, the Speakeasy seems like an attempt to raise expectations of what can be achieved within the nightclub format.
‘Most underground clubs are very much spit’n’sawdust,’ says David. ‘Unfortunately it’s now the norm that people are just packed in. So we’re trying to offer a bit of exclusivity, but without the pretension.’
The Cab’s motto is ‘Breaking Boundaries in Music’, and the Speakeasy should prove they’re doing so much more than that.
The Speakeasy will open its doors at Sugarbeat Club, with Audio Bullys (live) and a DJ set from Stereo MCs, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 30 Nov.