my first club

Hudson Mohawke's First Club: Growing Up and Going Out in Glasgow

Illegal raves, vomit, and the injustice of the Arches' closure.

by Hudson Mohawke
09 September 2015, 10:20am

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. Following entries from the likes of Eats Everything,Herve, MK, Slimzee, and Billon, we hit up Glaswegian don Hudson Mohawke for a trip into some seriously long tunnels.

There used to be a club in Glasgow called Archaos, which did quite notorious, nasty under-18s nights. At that stage I was already a big hard house and happy hardcore person, and I'd also done loads of scratch contests — but they were more like concerts. Archaos was my first experience of being in a club. It had this weird layout — there was a dancefloor in the middle and the balconies all around the edges. It also wasn't the sort of club where the DJs were trying to mix. They'd just sling another track on like it was a school disco. I went back there as nostalgia thing more recently, because it was going to close down, and saw either Ultimate Buzz or Ultra-Sonic, one of those two Scottish hardcore groups. I've actually since discovered that one of the samplers that I own, that I'd bought of one of the Optimo guys, had come off of them in the first place. Apparently everybody has signed the circuit board inside this thing.

A lot of the times after that were sneaking into places within a huddle of older people, before the days of compulsory ID checks. Those times included the first time I saw Jeff Mills — that was at The Arches which has just closed down. I had some great nights there. What's happened to the Arches is not okay at all. It wasn't even strictly a music venue, there was a theatre, a cafe bar; it was an arts venue, a very adaptable space for all kinds of events. Fair enough if it was some shitty club that was having consistent problems, but it just wasn't that.

So many venues have isolated drug incidents. It may be a sweeping statement but if you go to nights out that go on until 5 or 6 am, predominantly techno nights, there's going to be people taking drugs. To try and get rid of one venue, and one which is so far from being purely a nightclub, is criminal. There was such a backlash against it in Glasgow, to close down such a central hub is just ridiculous. I've had so many great nights in there.

But then again, Sub-Club closed down for a long time and moved to a different venue, the Arts School burnt down, Glaswegian venues don't exactly have a great history.

They've cracked down on this as well, but there's quite a lengthy section of train tunnel, which was built maybe early 1900s, and it was meant for a rail-link between two parts of Glasgow. But it never opened, so there is this length of track that is blocked off at both ends. Tunnels with nothing in them at all. We used to go to loads of parties in those. The tunnels were long enough that if you went into the entrance of the tunnel you couldn't hear anything, you couldn't even hear the music — you would have to walk ten or fifteen minutes down the tunnel which was lit by little tea-lights, and then all of a sudden you'd hear this music in the distance and see these lights. It was a more guerrilla type of promotion. They wouldn't get announced until the night of the event. The ones I was going to were before Facebook, so nobody was sharing events or promoting stuff online, it was all done over text. "Call this number when you get here" type thing.

I vomited on my boss there once. If you're working in an events space or a club (I started working behind the bar in Sub-Club when I was 18), it was the case that when you finished work, rather than going for a drink everybody gets absolutely hammered. I went to one of these parties after work once. They used to happen right in the middle of the tunnel, and I think at one point I was so away with it, I just wandered off down the tunnel thinking it was a way out. My boss came looking for me, sat me down on this little school chair next to some disco lights, and I was all like "I'm fine, I'm fine...." Then I just hurled all over them.

Also because the tunnels hadn't been used for so long, the ground was basically mud, and the tunnels also ran underneath a hospital. I have a sneaky suspicion stuff was being dumped down there. A number of people ended up with little cuts that ended up turning green.

If they're closing down the Arches because of a couple of incidents, then this shit just wouldn't fly anymore. There was one particular event — it was maybe 6am, the music went off, and all of a sudden there was like 100 police with dogs approaching us, and there was only one way out.

Those events were amazing though. It would be different DJs but the same guys would bring the soundsystems. They went on until fairly recently, but they used to be every week or two weeks, whereas the more recent ones have been once a year, and they've all been shutdown. It just can't happen now. What was great about those events were that they were predominantly house and techno, but not everyone there even cared about that, it wasn't restricted to a certain demographic, everyone just wanted a good party.

Hudson Mohawke is playing Collins Music Hall tonight as part of Red Bull Studio's Future Underground.

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