Glasgow is forever linked to the 90s. A decade that set the scene for local pop culture. A golden age for fries and cheese on Sauchiehall Street.
Glasgow in the 1990s began with a wave of optimism and urban renewal triggered by being a European City of Culture.
The Blue Nile played the opening concert at the new Royal Concert Hall. St Enoch Centre, Italian Center and Princes Square have brought a sense of style and fashion to the city centre.
Glasgow venues have attracted superstar DJs from around the world and our own local indie bands have made their mark. It was the future, the digital age was beginning, bringing with it dial-up internet, oversized Nokia cell phones, Tamagotchi, alcopops and wearing skirts over your jeans.
After thirty years times have changed, although no one has told Ocean Color Scene or Shed Seven who still play to sold out Glasgow every December.
Let’s take a look back, and remember some of the things you could do in Glasgow in the 90s that are now a thing of the past.
Glasgow nightclubs of the 90s
You can still have a great night out in Glasgow, but back in the 90s it seemed like Glasgow was one of the great nightlife capitals of the world. The Tunnel on Mitchell Street, now a Revolution bar, was the city’s first super club. Boy George, Pete Tong, Judge Jules and other 90s dance music stars were among the weekend entertainment.
If you had been on the dance floor in 1994, you might have met Brad Pitt, who was enjoying a brief romance with Glasgow bartender Jillian Lamb while filming in the city and a stay at One Devonshire Gardens.
Meanwhile, members-only club The Apartment has hosted private after-parties for A-list celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Natalie Umbruglia, Oasis, Simply Red, INXS and the Spice Girls.
The Arches was one of the most famous dance music venues in the world in the 1990s. It also holds a special place in music history as producer pioneers Daft Punk played a gig early on , before their robot personas took over. They also played a rowdy set on the Renfrew Ferry. Another place you could go to in the 90s that is no longer with us.
Add to that Volcano at Partick. If you had been there in the 90s, you might have seen the filming of scenes from the most influential British film of the decade, Trainspotting.
Although set in Edinburgh, the film is a time capsule of Glasgow in the 1990s. Cafe D’Jaconelli appears in the scene where Spud prepares for a job interview over a milkshake.
The pub where Francis Begbie throws a pint glass was the Crosslands, now The BrewHaus on Queen Margaret Drive. The studio shoot used the disused Wills Tobacco cigarette factory, on Alexandra Parade. A scene set in a London hotel room was filmed in the since-demolished George Hotel on Buchanan Street.
The 1990s were a high point in entertainment for students at Strathclyde Union, the John Street entertainment tower which hosted a raucous all-night party for nearly 2,000 people each year. It has since been replaced by a more discreet student association.
Archaos was a hotspot for traffic light nightclubs and a haunt for Glasgow TV presenters and football players in its VIP bar. The old club is closed and awaiting redevelopment.
Fury Murrys was the place for cheap drink promotions and corny tunes. Fate has brought a hint of Ibiza to the city center. Tin Pan Alley brought a taste of underground techno. Cleopatra’s had queues every weekend in the West End.
Let’s also take a moment to reminisce about nights at The Shack and Trash, places of sugary drinks and upbeat pop music. A fire destroyed the historic Pitt Street building in 2004, but we remember the 90p vodkas.
Students today have their own scene, but they won’t have the chance to queue with their pals at Mr Chips next to the Garage, or make new friends after dancing at Café Insomnia.
One thing you could do on a night out is have the right to be forgotten. Aside from the occasional disposable camera, there was little point in documenting your frenetic dance moves for Take That or sharing song proofs on the late bus.
90s kids can claim their parties were way cooler than they were without fear of evidence to contradict them. Glasgow on a weekend is very different now.
Glasgow restaurants in the 1990s
There wasn’t much fine dining in Finnieston in the 1990s, but there was Crème de la Crème. One of the largest Indian restaurants in Europe, they could seat 1,000 diners in the former Kelvin Cinema on Argyle Street.
A remarkable art deco building has become a curry house with a buffet on the balcony. Alongside Koh-I-Noor, he sparked a renewed interest in Indian cuisine.
Both are now closed and relegated to 90s memorabilia. You can also no longer enjoy fast food on a plate at Wimpy, the British burger chain that was popular in the 90s before it disappeared from town.
The Rio Café in Partick was a hangover buster of the 90s and Papingo was among the classiest places to dine on Bath Street. The Grosvenor Café survives by name, but lacks the independent, quirky spirit of its previous incarnation. Spaghetti Factory, a popular West End hangout, became Stravaigin in the 1990s.
90s bands in Glasgow
One exciting thing about Glasgow’s music scene throughout the 90s was that you might suddenly recognize a bartender from The Horse Shoe bar or a shoe salesman from Schuh on Top of the Pops, as was the case when Travis had his big break.
Mogwai played their first gig at 13th Note on Glassford Street, which is now Bar Bacchus. Alex Kapranos was one of the promoters of music there, before Franz Ferdinand’s fame.
We listened to local music on Atlantic 252 or the Tiger Tim show on Clyde 1. The 90s kids saw early shows from Belle and Sebastian, Bis, Biffy Clyro, Arab Strap, The Supernaturals, Camera Obscura, Silicone Soul, Teenage Fanclub and The Delgados. They were there when the Sub Club felt new and exciting.
Glasgow also has its place in 90s music history, as Alan McGee signed Oasis after seeing them play at King Tut’s in 1993.
What did Glasgow have in the 90s that it doesn’t have now?
The Rock Garden was always a favorite for budding musicians, with vodka-flavored shots in the basement. Jedi Bar, the Star Wars themed curiosity in Charing Cross was always open. Little Marco’s at Templeton Carpet factory or Quasar laser tag were the kids’ parties everyone wanted to go to.
T in the Park seemed like the most exciting summer festival imaginable. The Odeon on Renfield Street hosted the occasional film premiere with male celebrities showing up in tartan costume.
We watched Small Faces and The Crow Road, both with Joseph McFadden. Rab C Nesbitt was still a renowned local philosopher and at the start of the decade Willie Melvin in City Lights was still trying to get his novel, My Childhood Up A Close, published.
You can rent a video from Azad Video or simply pick up a copy from Paddy’s Market. Glasgow had a zoo. Weanlings were still being born at the Rottenrow. The couples met outside BHS, you were getting messages from Somerfield and Safeway.
Add Haggs Castle and the Transport Museum to the monuments that are no longer there. And what happened to Glens Hutchison Robertson and Stepek?
Nostalgia is inevitable after thirty years, thinking of a time still vivid in memories. Although the locations have changed, Glasgow is still Glasgow.