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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Clear The Decks

You may have heard that a group of sea-shanty singers, The Fisherman’s Friends from Port Isaac in Cornwall have been signed by Universal Records. Lovers of diversity in all things have applauded the decision of the media conglomerate to broaden their musical portfolio with such a different sound – the rather commercial name of the band notwithstanding.
Glasgow isn’t brimming with sailors these days but were a gang of them to descend on the city they might imagine a place such as the Captain’s Rest on Great Western Road as being somewhere to hear the working songs of the boats. They wouldn’t know of the pub’s previous as Pharaohs some 20 years ago, but its down-to-earth exterior would encourage them inside.
And they might laugh at the wood panelling as a quaint throwback and shake their heads at the dummy captain high up on the wall. Ok, hardly The Admiral Benbow Inn but at least it would offer a respite from the large cut-price emporiums of the city centre and the air of pretension that pervades some other corners of the west end.
Clutching their pints and whiskies – do sailors still drink rum? – they could walk through to the snug in the part of the pub extending out beyond the walls of the tenement into the side street. But they would notice then that those around them are not the eclectic bunch that their source promised. Rather they are almost exclusively in the 18-24 bracket and can be heard discussing Hollyoaks or Twilight or matters to do with the educational institutions nearby.
One of our sailors might even discuss this issue with the barperson. To be informed that all this was intentional. Management policy to encourage a change in habitués. After all these are the people with the time and the money, and the inclination, the regular spenders. The sailor would return to his shipmates thinking, that’s all very well, but what about diversity?
Another bar is changing too. Mama San under Saint Jude’s Hotel has been granted a 3am license beginning this Thursday evening. The winner of Scotland’s Most Stylish Bar Award in 2008 is an enticing, darkened place with Pan- Asian food complimenting the atmosphere.
It’s always seemed like a cut apart from much of the rest of Bath Street, cool without trying too hard, and with a clientele hard to categorise. A 3am license would at last add another late-night drinking venue to the city centre’s small list.
But what we are getting is a nightclub. So instead of our nighttime city addressing an under-provision it opens a type of venue of which there are plenty. Just another venue for deck spinning. Reacting to demand? We’ll see.
A few years back Bamboo on West Regent Street marketed itself initially as a late-night bar – at that time an almost unique offering - but soon went down the club road and has re-invented itself, like all its rivals, for each new generation of clubbers. Since then the large hybrid bar/clubs like Arta, Tusk and One Up have gathered some of the market but actual, simple, after midnight bar drinking remains rare.
Blue Dog and Oranmor Whisky Bar aren’t quite fulfilling their initial promise but maybe the late night cocktail bar in Oranmor’s Brasserie will provide a new beginning. Or at least some more variety in a town needing just that.

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