The Garage celebrates 20 years as iconic music venue

FOR almost two decades it has welcomed everyone from student paupers to Prince.

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The Garage is city venue no one can miss
The Garage is city venue no one can miss

Now the Garage is set to celebrate it's 20th birthday.

Formerly known as the Mayfair ballroom, the venue's launch in 1994 after being taken over by CPL Entertainment saw it swiftly become one of the city's hottest spots for both clubbing and gigs.

It has also welcomed comedians, wrestlers, Zumba classes and a host of other events while being a rite of passage for any student clubber new to Glasgow, with the truck cab hanging over the entrance marking it out as one of the city's most recognisable locations.

A sign of the times came soon after it opened, when music legend Prince wheeled up for a legendary gig.

The Purple One had played a two-night stint at the SECC in March 1995 and wanted to put on an extra late-night gig, which led to his management contacting the Garage.

He eventually took the stage just after half past one in the morning, rattling through a collection of his hits to thrilled punters, who had been queuing outside for hours in the hope of seeing him.

If that superstar backing helped mark out the Garage, its bread and butter will always be the club nights that are regularly packed to the rafters.

The venue is open every night, and for marketing manager Andy Clark, it's a huge part of why the club is so loved.

He said: "It's key, because it means we are always an option. People can check out other clubs, but if they are not impressed with that then the Garage is the guarantee of a good time.

"A lot of our customers can maybe come to us on a night when it's not their first option, but when they walk out they have had a great night."

Even the wild winter weather in 2010 couldn't stop the venue opening its doors, as it let stranded punters stay the night after all transport was stopped due to snow and ice.

Andy added: "When the snow came on, we opened up as a refuge. We stayed open for people who couldn't get home, and had hoodies to give out. It was a crazy night."

It's not just the Garage's reliability that has made it a firm favourite over the years. Marc Watson, the Evening Times club columnist, believes the venue has always been able to adapt and snare new punters that way.

He said: "There are a few reasons why the Garage is so popular. One is that, a bit like Madonna, it has changed its look over the years and found a new audience.

"There was a time when the hip Nice 'N' Sleazys punters would jump across Sauchiehall Street to finish the night there, that's something that just wouldn't happen now.

"Now, as Glasgow's foremost student club, it appeals massively to the base instincts we all have at 18: to drink a lot and bounce around all night with the music almost as an afterthought. As long as it keeps providing those, it will remain the club of choice for students for years to come."

Aside from the club nights, there have been plenty of big names who have taken to the stage there too.

As one of Glasgow's mid-sized gigging venues, the Garage has welcomed many rising acts over the past 20 years, including Radiohead and Pulp in its early days, while the late, great Jeff Buckley stopped off there in 1995.

Coldplay promoted debut album Parachutes there in June 2000, supporting future stadium rockers Muse, and Biffy Clyro's lengthy slog to success included an appearance in March 2001.

Even One Direction have been tempted there, performing in 2010, while music legends such as Gary Numan and Ian Dury have also passed through the doors.

Admittedly, not every act goes on to greater things - Pop Stars: The Rivals boyband One True Voice didn't manage two songs, being swiftly heckled off.

MOST acts will have happier memories of the venue, though, and some stars regularly return.

Andy said: "The thing about the Garage is that you can get acts on the way up, because it's a nice size to play.

"Pete [Wentz] from Fall Out Boy comes back to the club when he's in Glasgow because he enjoyed it so much in the past.

"He never asks for VIP treatment and just gets stuck in."

This Friday sees the Garage mark its birthday by giving away a car to a lucky winner, following the same stunt 10 years ago, when Andy himself was one of the contestants.

"I was on stage 10 years ago the last time they gave away a car. I didn't win, but everyone always talked about, so I was keen to make it happen again.

"It'll make someone's year, and they'll always remember it."

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