Scotland Soul

Slam, Glasgow, Aberdeen & Chicago acid

Often overlooked from the hype and dominance of the south, the Scots were putting on dedicated Chicago nights at the sametime as Manchester. Slam dips a toe into their contribution.

Manchester and London are cited as the hot beds for the cross cultural fusion which led to the explosion of dance culture, yet Glasgow and Scotland had their own hand in propelling the movement. With Mike Grieve – now the owner of the infamous Sub Club – putting on a dedicated Chicago Acid night in Aberdeen as early as 1986 called Acid Jax (at Video Plex in Aberdeen with female DJ Jacqui Morrison), the touch paper was well and truly lit north of Hadrian’s Wall.

In Glasgow’s Sub Club, Graham Wilson and Colin Barr would drop Chicago tracks (the latter at his cheekily titled Zoom night) whilst DJ Harri at his Beatbox night would play house mixed up with rare groove and soul in the vein of Pickering’s mirrored activities in Manchester.

Slam, however, were the ones to explode, as Stuart McMillan takes up the tale: “We started DJing around 1987. We started buying a lot of funk, soul and hip-hop and slipping in the odd Clash record as well as early house. Orde [Meikle, Stuart’s Slam partner] had been at university in Sheffield and he was into a lot of that industrial electronic music like A Certain Ratio and things like that so it was quite eclectic at the start. At the same time Graham Wilson [the DJ at the Sub Club] started to play ‘Nude Photo’ by Rhythm Is Rhythm on Transmat (Derek May’s Label) amongst all these soul records and we were like, ‘What the fuck is that strange sound?’”

How aware were you of a massive cultural shift around ’87?

Stuart: “Basically Glasgow followed Manchester and London but we were very close on their heels – ID magazine’s annual of ’88 had three of our nights in the top ten clubs of the UK (Black Market, Ecstasy and Slam). We had Inner City and 808 State playing – Jon Da Silva had got us down to his and Mike Pickering’s hot night on Wednesday at the Hacienda and we took a bus down there too.”

How important was ecstasy in Scotland back in the ’80s?

Stuart: “By late 1988 it was still very new – it cost £20 and people only needed to take one pill for the whole night – speed and acid were bigger but ecstasy had this feeling of well-being, excitement and coming together and at the Slam night we had people from all walks of life getting into this new scene from east end ex-soccer casuals to west end students – but only 300 people.”

What have been its biggest myths?

Stuart: “The two most popular opposite opinions back then were always either that ‘It was better in ’88!’ Or that ‘Acid House will be over by the end of the year!’” Why do you think so many influences came together so quickly? Stuart: “It came at the end of a period of self indulgence – clubs were very snobby. Most people weren’t that into going to clubs at the time. When the bomb dropped and the hype exploded it brought people together from all walks of life and people with different cultural interests. The ’80s were supposed to be a time of glamour and colour.”


You can visit to listen to and purchase a selection of the Acid House classics discussed in our retrospective.

Click here to visit JUNO.

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.