Dundee’s nightlife scene has seen two major changes this week.
The boss of long-running nightclub Liquid revealed the venue was set to shut its doors for the last time next week.
And Dundee pub boss Jimmy Marr was given the go-ahead by city councillors to open a 1920s speakeasy-style nightclub underneath 172 at the Caird on the Nethergate.
Together, they form another chapter in the long story of Dundee’s nightlife, which has seen countless clubs come and go as the city’s relationship with dancing evolved.
From as early as the 18th Century, dancing was spreading across Scotland, escaping from the confines of the stately homes of the rich into common social gatherings.
Early venues for such assemblies included the one-time Trades Hall, the Thistle Hall in Union Street and the Exchange Coffee House.
There, locals would take up newfangled dances such as the waltz — although not all were taken with it.
A local press article which appeared in 1815 branded anyone choosing to adopt the German dance as “disgusting” — at a time when assemblies were used to find potential husbands and wives.
The article brooded: “No man but a fool will include waltzing among the motives for choosing a companion for life.
“One of these Waltzing Ladies would prove but a middling wife in the season of adversity.”
After the First World War brought disconnected communities together, dancing grew in popularity across the country.
Dundee was no exception, with the post-war years heralding the arrival of Robbie’s, and the Palais on South Tay Street — an institution in Dundee for six decades.
Several more followed — the Chalet on Broughty Esplanade, the Hollywood Hall in Lochee, Kidd’s Rooms in South Lindsay Street and the Locarno on Lochee Road.
The Empress Ballroom, well kent by many, was opened in 1938 in Dock Street by James Duncan, who had also opened the Palais.
Wartime Dundee’s dancing scene thrived as foreign soldiers made use of the city’s multitude of assembly halls and dances such as the rumba and the jive emerged.
And while the Locarno closed in 1951, the JM Ballroom — hailed in one ad as “The New Super Ballroom of Eastern Angus” — opened in 1954.
That, combined with the post-war baby boom, flourishing job creators such as NCR and Timex and the proliferation of LPs and singles, lead to a positively explosive growth in Dundee’s music scene.
However, with the rise of Chubby Checker’s Twist and rock ’n’ roll, ballroom dancing fell away — and with it the Empress, Robbie’s and Kidd’s Rooms.
However, the JM and the Palais thrived, with the latter boosted by then-owner and promoter Andy Lothian, who brought acts such as Manfred Mann and the Yardbirds to Dundee in the 1960s.
And as the JM became the Barracuda in the 70s, then Coconut Grove in the 80s, and as the Palais closed and became Samantha’s, then Bloomers, before burning to the ground, the scene changed again.
The last four decades have seen, among others, Fat Sam’s, the ill-fated Venue in Lochee, Rick’s (later the Reading Rooms), Deja Vu, Underground and Industry — each a far cry from the assemblies of the early 1800s.
And while the clubs and the music have changed, one thing remains the same — Dundee still has a healthy appetite for a night on the town.