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Swimmers Club

The pioneers of aviation were never lonely

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Who: Pretty Ugly
Where: Glasgow, Scotland
What: Club Night


Push your shoulders and hands under the surface of the water. Subcultures, independent cultures, others.

What sort of music policy do you have? What stuff do you play?

We want our crowd to go wild and let their hair down to everything from Riot Grrrl to retro electro to indie disco while creating a night that feels like the best house party you’ve ever been to. As we’ve been running the club for so long, we know our regulars well and can often drop in their favourite tracks without them having to request anything! We like to do a mixed bag of songs and try to reflect the crowd that night along with anything current or topical - often we put songs together that have a thematic connection and tell a story.

How did the night get its name?

Pretty Ugly is a fitting name as that’s how the night usually ends up! We also run a quarterly offshoot called Pretty Early for anyone who can no longer do 3am curfews - it wraps up at midnight so is a slightly tamer affair!

How did the night start in the first place and how long has it been running?

Pretty Ugly is the city’s best-kept secret and has been an indie pop institution since 2005 - think cult classic rather than bestseller! We’re Glasgow’s longest running alternative club night and take place on the second Saturday of the month at The Admiral Bar. Aarti, Lee & Pam started the night, they all worked at a PR firm together and were asked to DJ at a music industry event, which inspired them to start their own night. Around the same time, I’d formed an electro-pop girlband with two of my friends and we started a DJ residency at the Arches legendary Death Disco club night.

How many of you run the night?

A few years ago I joined Aarti on the Pretty Ugly decks and she’s still not managed to get rid of me. These days its run by us two gals but with a great team of helpers on the night.

Do you have guest-DJs or is it generally the same resident DJs week after week? Are you weekly? Monthly? Less regular?

Pretty Ugly is monthly with the same resident DJs however we invite along special guest DJs a few times a year. We’ve had Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap), Marnie (Ladytron), Emmy-Kate & Marie (Kenickie), Prides, The Long Blondes, Manda Rin (Bis), The Van T’s, The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks all spinning tunes over the years. We even had a rare live set from the late great Ari Up (The Slits).

Do you embrace all methods of DJing? DJing from laptops with Ableton, Traktor, CDs, just super lo-fi from one-deck or just the standard two turntables and a mixer?

We have embraced all methods over the years! Nowadays we usually stick to laptops - I use Serato and recently completed an Ableton course with the excellent Producer Girls.

Has the city where you’re based had any influence on what you do?

Without a doubt. Neither of us are originally from Glasgow but we now call it home. It’s a real party city and Glaswegian crowds are world renowned for being the most up for it - People Make Glasgow and that's why we do what we do.

Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now? How do you think it could improve?

Glasgow is all about independent spirit and we love to work with and support creative businesses around the city. The place is thriving with independent clubs and DJs too. Everyone seems to have a side hustle here - be that promoting shows, launching a label or starting a pop-up - if you can’t find something you love, just do it yourself.

How would you descibe the type of crowd that you attract or seek to attract?

We have the greatest regulars - they are the reason we‘ve kept the club going for so long and it’s great that people enjoy what we do. They are an unpretentious crowd who really love their music and just want to dance in a fun and friendly space. We don't really shout about what we do as we like to keep it small and intimate. In the early days, it was just our pals having a riot and we’re lucky that we’ve retained that atmosphere.

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