AREA Discotheque enjoys successful renaissance
Paisley has a thriving new music scene, and it’s exciting for us here at NNE to watch as venues across Paisley play host to up and coming talent, with groups such as Lemonhaze, Dogtooth and the newly rebranded Heavy Rapids, making their presence felt.
It’s also great to see Paisley’s music & clubbing past remembered with vigour, and in some cases brought back to life, with legendary establishments such as “The Clubhouse”, “Valentinos” and “AREA” being rescued from yesteryear, given a makeover – and thrust back into Paisley’s social calendar with aplomb – almost as though they never left.
In this, the first of our series on Paisley music, nightlife and entertainment history, NNE talk to the teams behind the renaissance of these much loved institutions to find out a bit more about who/where/why and what next…
First up, it’s the team that brought back the AREA and NNE caught up with founders David Jamieson & Stephen Lee to get their insight into what’s been going on.
First, here’s a bit of history about “The AREA” ?
AREA Discotheque on Bridge Street has seen a few incarnations over the years.
But lets go way back.
The building actually started it’s life in the mid to late 1960’s as a training School for Balfour Kilpatrick, a local engineering firm.
The building lay abandoned during the mid to late 1970’s, until it was given a new lease of life as a pub and nightclub.
In the early 1980’s it launched as the Garage & Bodyshop (Garage being the nightclub and bodyshop being the pub). In the late 1980’s it became Carters & Alacarte, then quickly became the Network & Make for the Border.
In 1993, Glasgow pub/club impresario, Ron McCulloch, along with business partner George Swanson, purchased the ailing club & pub and added them into their “Big Beat” pub and club empire, rebranding the venture as “AREA Discotheque”, and adding Paisley to their portfolio of clubs and pubs, which, at the time, included Universe (Coatbridge), Expo (Kilmarnock) & The Tunnel (Glasgow).
From 1993 – 1998, the AREA played host to some of the UK’s most famous house music DJ’s and chart topping dance acts and created a sense of community and loyalty that stands as strong today, as it did back in it’s heyday, as the AREA renaissance team were about to find out.
NNE: How did the AREA nights come about?
David: It all started sometime around September 2014 when a random photograph of the old club appeared on Facebook. It got a ridiculous amount of likes and comments, and a ton of the old regulars were posting their memories of the club, the many famous acts that played there and some of the amazing nights they had. Myself, John & Stephen (Lee) chatted behind the scenes that it would be fun to get a reunion going. And the rest is history. We found a venue (SAUWS), and we went for it. Our first gig was Feb 2015 and we’ve never looked back!
NNE: How many nights have you had to date?
Stephen: We’ve had 4 nights to date in the last 24 months. We kicked off in Feb 2015 with “AREA – Reunion at the Union”. Then we had AREA21 , feat. KKlass in May 15. We went back to our student roots with our 3rd outing in Feb 2016, – AREA-Joyful Noise and we rocked the SAUWS again in Sept 2016 with AREAnthems, which was our 4th and most recent outing.
NNE: What has been the highlight so far?
David: We’ve had so much fun with the AREA nights, and it’s difficult to pick just one highlight, so I’ll go for my top 3 if that’s OK;
- The original night was hard to beat. The adrenaline rush of not knowing if it would be a success or well received was palpable, but, by the time that almost 400 clubbers flowed through our doors, we knew we’d achieved something really special.
- KKlass performing for us at AREA21 was really cool. Hearing Bobbi (Depasois) sing Rhythm is a mystery and sounding as fresh now as she did almost a quarter of a century ago was spine tingling.
- Convincing Stephen (Lee) and Jamie (Mitchell) to get back behind the decks again and of course getting to meet all of the regulars again after all these years. It has been brilliant catching up with them all again, and old friendships have been rekindled through what we have built. It’s really satisfying and gratifying watching this unfold as our nights evolve
NNE: What has been the most challenging thing about putting on the AREA nights?
Stephen: Keeping our nights fresh is always a challenge. We have loads of creative meetings to discuss what next and in what direction should we go. We’ve always been of the mind that it’s the regulars that keep the AREA alive, and we said at the very start that we would keep going – as long as they wanted us to. That mantra remains today. We build the nights, and as long as the AREA team support, then we will continue to work hard for them and put on the best nights we can.
NNE: What are the teams plans for AREA in 2017 and beyond?
David: The team are in constant contact, we talk regularly. For now, we are letting the AREA breathe, however, at some point, hopefully not in the too distant future, we believe that AREA 5 will make an appearance, and hopefully blow the house down once more.
You can follow the AREA renaissance team on Facebook at /AreaReunion/