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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Corinthian's Smokin' !

The Courtyard, 84 West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2QH
Corinthian Club, 191 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1DA
One Up Bar & Nightclub, 23 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AJ

I’ll start with an apology. Sorry. I missed a key element in the Corinthian review. They do indeed have a smoking area. But in my defence, it is subtly, or more accurately, obscurely signed. It’s on the second floor, a small space from which you overlook the roofs of the gaming room and main bar. It possesses an interesting quirk, a couch that looks perfectly normal but is in fact, solid and stone-like to touch. Take care when plonking yourself down on that!

I discovered this on Saturday. Arriving mid-evening my companion and I made straight for the Tellers Bar & Brasserie, the largest room in the building. We needed some company because our last pit-stop before here was The Courtyard, West Nile Street. I hadn’t been there for a while and was expecting a busy start to the night. A previous host venue for Sunday Circus the electro/funk night, I won’t say I always felt entirely at home amongst the cool young things in there, but the place had a definite voice of its own.

Not tonight it didn’t. The bar room itself was extremely quiet, only peopled by a handful of sad-looking punters not exactly in keeping with the style of the place I remembered. Still, the outside area at the back would be busier, maybe even a bit of a party going on.

No. This courtyard area has probably the highest walls of any outside enclosed space in town, the bricks of the neighbouring buildings countless and seemingly climbing forever upward. It is thus an atmospheric place, improved by being on two levels with plenty of seating and umbrellas. But with zero people there can be no atmosphere. The look on my companions face was priceless, “where the hell have you brought me now!” he mouthed. Before we departed we were joined outside by a bewildered middle-aged couple who must have been thinking likewise. They proceeded to sit right under the blaring speaker, intensifying their enjoyment I’m sure.

So in Corinthian a bit of a contrast with the last joint was required. And that’s what we got, plenty of folk to mingle in and around. Probably not quite as many as on launch night but a fair crowd for around 9 in the evening.

Over the course of the next couple of rounds I showcased the whole place, up, down, left and right. Surprisingly enough Boutique made the best impression on my mate, it was busier than the masculinely-styled Bootleg and probably had the more attractive ladies. Not really a puzzle then, is it. Charlie Parkers didn’t exude the same buzz as it had a fortnight earlier – Tom Ure was absent this time – and people had made less of an effort with their dress.

This is the drawback in many Glasgow establishments, folk, guys especially, not really making the effort. Surprising in a city that has always embraced the bling concept. The laidback, casual – not to say can’t be arsed- look is fine in some places but in the opulence around here it jars slightly, especially in the gaming room, which from looks of things has yet to draw in big crowds.

As we left, quite a queue was forming at the entrance, and at our next port of call, One Up, the numbers were down on a usual Saturday night. One Up’s bouncers were obviously aware of the newcomer’s presence because they asked us our opinion of Corinthian. They rather sneered at our answers as if their place had nothing to worry about. Not the case, my friends. The competition could be fierce. One Up, by the way, did get back to some semblance of a respectable turnout by the early hours of Sunday.

For the rest of the night I did have a slight regret we hadn’t stayed at Corinthian but we had made that decision because it is, as yet, missing something. Large venues with many disparate elements need a focal point to bring everything together, somewhere to gravitate towards as the night draws in. I can’t find it yet at Corinthian. So, as Stanley Ipkiss may also have said: “close…but no cigar.”

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