NIGHT CLUBS / Clubbed to death: Glasgow's nightlife has been under curfew for a year. The result has been a quieter and, as James Robertson found out, much duller city

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The Independent Culture
James Coleman has no soul, man' remains a popular slogan among the weary club community of Glasgow. In June 1993 the Glasgow District Licensing Board, supposedly in an effort to curb drunkenness and violence, delivered a reeling blow to the city's nightclubs. It insisted on no entry to clubs after midnight and that all clubs must finish by 2am (they had previously been allowed to stay open until 5 or 6am). The man behind the licensing law was councillor James Coleman.

The curfew had immediate repercussions for Glasgow's clubland. There were riots in the city centre on the first night of its enforcement. Chaos reigned - precisely what the Licensing Board had wanted to prevent.

After 12 months of the curfew the effects have been marked. Councillor Coleman believes that the results have been beneficial to everyone. 'The city centre is quieter, crime has been reduced and club-owners are able to keep their clients once the doors are shut. I have had three applications to open new clubs during this period and when I have toured the venues at night, they are always at their capacity.'

Michael MacCrimmon, owner of the Sub Club, is far less satisfied. 'I am fighting to survive. The curfew is destroying my business. Less people are coming to Glasgow to club. A lot of my trade relies on bar staff who have finished work - they are now effectively deprived of their right to go to nightclubs.'

Calvin Bush, a pop journalist and Glasgow resident, agrees. 'It's very sad. I used to go out clubbing during the week but there's no point now. The pubs are open until midnight so it's not worth shelling out seven or eight quid for a club.'

Bobby Paterson, manager of the Tunnel and the Volcano, echoes MacCrimmons' sentiments. 'The Saturday before the curfew my clubs were running at capacity, now they're running at 40 per cent below.'

As spokesperson for the action group Freedom of the City he believes he has managed to gain some concessions. 'At Christmas the board extended the entry cut-off to 12.30am and chucking out time to 2.30am or 3am, but it was a face-saving exercise and not a concession. Glasgow has died. In 1990 this was the City of Culture with licences until 5am and no trouble, in 1994 this is the City of Curfew. There's just no hope in sight.'

Local club journalist, Rory Weller, says this is the worst summer he has witnessed. 'There is just a general apathy among clubbers and owners. They have fought hard against the board for a year and are now resigned to a curtailed club environment. The so-called violence which provoked this ridiculous law was not due to clubbing, although a lot of it took place in the club quarters. The curfew is killing business, culture and Glasgow.'

Stephanie Campbell, a regular clubber at the Arches, directs her anger at the promoters and owners. 'After the curfew was announced there was so much anger and energy. Amazing underground parties sprung up. Now they've just given up. It's up to them to sort this one out.'

Tunnel, 84 Mitchell St, Thurs- Sat 10.30pm-3am (041-339 6115 / 041-204 1000)

Sub Club, 22 Jamaica St, Thurs-Sat 11pm-3am (041-248 4600)

Volcano, Benalber St, Wed-Sun 11pm-2.30am (041-337 1100)

Arches, 30 Midlands St, Fri-Sat 11pm-3am (041-221 8385)

All clubs bar entry after 12.30am

(Photograph omitted)