Renaissance for superclub culture


Age of enlightenment

As Renaissance launches in Edinburgh David Pollock looks back at the legacy of the 90s house superclubs and asks whether they really ever went away

Has it been just long enough since the superclub was declared dead that we can start to look back on them with something approaching nostalgia? Or maybe we all know that the superclub will never, ever die; it’s just that the whole culture has been ring-fenced somewhere far removed from underground credibility. But then that’s not strictly true, either. Some big nightclub brands which may fairly fall into the ‘super’ bracket are among the most respected in the country (OK, we mean Fabric here), while each big name can still draw in crowds around Europe and even the world. Creamfields is held annually in Liverpool and internationally; Ministry of Sound march on relentlessly in the money-spinning arenas of compilation CDs and branded nights out and of course our own Colours are still going strong. Renaissance, who were there at the beginning, still release mix comps, put on shows across the globe, and even run their own festival, Wild in the Country.

So superclubs are still big-ish business and Renaissance is bringing its own bi-monthly bash to Edinburgh — to the eminently ‘boundary-breaking’ Cabaret Voltaire — and we’re wondering what to expect. ‘They’re not going to be here every two weeks or every month,’ says Neil Bartley, who is promoting the night. ‘Although, Renaissance is a huge clubbing brand, this isn’t going to be a huge corporate night which will stomp over everything else out there. We just think that what they do will fit well on the Edinburgh scene, and that their name also helps us book guests who might not otherwise come to Edinburgh’.

As a resident at the Liquid Rooms Musika and Cab’s own After Dark, the latter of which recently finished, Bartley has a fair idea what might work in Edinburgh (his business partner, Euan Mackenzie, also promotes and DJs on the local scene). To be honest, the city hasn’t wanted for house nights, particularly progressive ones, until recently, when the demise of residencies like After Dark, Progression and Solescience saw the genre thin out in the capital. There’s a call for it, albeit perhaps not spread so thinly over a few nights, so it would be nice to see such a big noise of the genre as Renaissance unite everyone under the same flag.

It feels like a lifetime ago, of course, that Renaissance brought the now-ubiquitous mix CD to public attention with Sasha and John Digweed’s 1994 Renaissance: The Mix Collection, which was a fixture on the stereo of everyone in the land under the age of 25. Now it sounds as dated as the notion of actually listening to music on a stereo, but the suspicion lingers that those who keep the superclubs flying are those who built up a loyalty during the boom years.

‘I bought that album many years ago,’ laughs Bartley, ‘and I think this night will appeal to other people who did, too. But then John Digweed has just released Transitions Vol 4 on Renaissance, and we’re showcasing young DJs in King Unique and [Solescience’s] Nick Yuill at this event. There’s a whole new breed who love this type of music, and I think we’ll be seeing them out here.’

Renaissance, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 9 May.


The house superclub sets up a new Edinburgh residency. Launching with special guest King Unique.

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