The noughties don’t seem that long ago for some of us - but it’s undeniable that Glasgow has changed so much over the last twenty years - and that cultural shift can be seen most clearly in the city’s club scene.
We spoke with John McGonagle - one of the founders of Pin-up Nights, one of Glasgow’s hottest club nights throughout the 2000’s - to hear more about the nights that led the scene for generations of clubbers in the city.
From 2003 to 2012, John and his group of friends founded, promoted, and ran Pin-up Nights at various venues over nine years. In order, the club jumped from Blackfriars, Fury Murrays, The Woodside Social Club, The Beat Club & Stavka, The Flying Duck, and even a few nights in the infamous Arches.
Those venues will sound familiar to a lot of our audience, and sadly most of them are no longer with us. John recalls tales from some of the wildest, most chaotic, and hilarious nights he hosted in his new book, ‘Retired Teenagers: The Story of a Glasgow Club Night’.
John McGonagle, who now works as a Solicitor, spoke to us about the book, he said:”Pin Up Nights was a monthly night we hosted for nine years for generations of clubbers in Glasgow - in that time we had so many different crowds drawing in people from all over.
“We started out featuring loads of Indie rock bands - and gradually started to shift to electronic as the scene evolved in the city - we always tried to push the boundaries and keep it funny with bizarre bookings paired with promoting new and innovative bands from Glasgow and further afield.
“It’s been ten years since we wrapped up Pin Up Nights - and people have been coming up and speaking with me about some of their favourite stories from the club night ever since - so it only felt right to write it all down in one place.”
Pin Up Nights was an institution in its time - featuring Guest DJs from some of the biggest bands at the time, and some who would go on to achieve worldwide fame. Some of the biggest names to DJ or perform at the night were: The National, Florence Welch, MGMT, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Tony Wilson (of Factory Records fame), Super Furry Animals, and Wild Beasts.
McGonagle spoke about some of the celebs he worked with on Pin Up Nights - he said:”We had so many people from the scene come into Pin Up Nights - some to guest DJ like Kyle from The Libertines and Alex James from Blur - and some just to visit, like Paolo Nutini, who would always pop up in the crowd.
“Barry, the keyboard player from Mogwai, was the first person to bring a laptop to DJ and it blew our minds. He was playing a techno set and we all thought it was black magic that he didn’t have to carry around thousands of pounds worth of CDs.
“One of my favourite nights that we put on was one at Flying Duck we promoted as ‘Glasgow’s sexiest night’ featuring Frank McAvennie. What a night that was - he was given signed balls to hand out and threw a football into the crowd and it ended up skelping a girl in the face.
“Aidan Moffat and Paolo Nutini showed up as well - Paolo got on really well with Frank funnily enough. We weren’t sure if McAvennie would be a difficult booking but he just turned out to be a bit wild.
“We played songs like Olivia Newton John’s ‘Let’s Get Physical’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy’ - it was a weird one for sure.”
Some of the biggest names in Scottish music played some of their earliest gigs at the club night - including The Twilight Sad, Glasvegas, The Fratellis, Chvrches, and Frightened Rabbit.
The momentum kept going for the alternative club night - that drew in thousands of music fans across Glasgow every month. Former owner of the Hacienda and founder of Factory Records - the label that managed the Happy Mondays and Joy Division - did a screamo DJ set at The Arches for one Pin Up Night.
The nights continually booked fringe guest DJs alongside massive names in bizarre bookings that kept the club night popular throughout its entire nine year lifespan.
The Glasgow club promoters rubbed shoulders with the greatest in the noughties music scene - with author of Retired Teenagers, John McGonagle, discussing interviewing Arctic Monkeys right after the release of their first EP, Fake Tales of San Francisco.
John, who continues to moonlight as a DJ to this day, spoke more about the club scene in Glasgow at the time:”At the time no pubs had late licences in Glasgow - so you’d get kicked out at half 11 / 12 and have to find somewhere playing decent music.
“We were going to quite predictable clubs that would play the same sets from a tape every night - you could set your watch to when Bon Jovi would come on in The Garage.
“You still had your specialist dance nights like Sub Club and the Arches or Thursday nights at the Art School or even Optimo - but we wanted to provide a happy medium for music fans in Glasgow, and that’s where Pin Up Nights came from.
“We wrapped up the club night on a high note in 2013 - with a performance from The Twilight Sad in the Flying Duck, which was great to see us go out with a local band as well - we always tried to support good music in Glasgow.”
To read more tales of glamorous nostalgic noughties club nights in Glasgow - including meetings with the Kaiser Chiefs, sets with Florence and the Machine, and gigs with MGMT - buy John McGonagle’s book: Retired Teenagers: The story of a Glasgow club night.