Becoming involved in Oxjam Edinburgh has meant jumping deep into Edinburgh’s music and nightlife scene and experiencing a wealth of different venues, acts and genres. It is a well-known and often joked about fact that the Edinburgh nightlife scene is divided in two distinct areas; New Town and Old Town. This post will give you a short run-down of my favourite venues in Old Town and why.
The Bongo Club
With a complex history going back to 1994, and having moved location four times in its life, The Bongo Club has become a well-established and prominent venue within Edinburgh’s Old Town. Currently settled beneath the Central Library, Bongo’s stands firm amongst an array of other venues. It’s a club that actively encourages local artists and communities and also provides a constant and ever changing line up of events. Regular nights include Soulsville, a night of deep funk, soul and Latin beats, Messenger, one of Scotland’s biggest roots and reggae sound systems, and Four Corners, a soulful blend of new and old sounds from across the music spectrum. Bongo’s also hosts some of the world’s best DJs, MCs, and artists, catering to a huge array of music tastes and continuing to sit in the heart of Edinburgh’s music lovers.
Don’t be fooled by this small, 100 capacity venue. Sneaky Pete’s packs a punch with ever popular club nights and constant gigs by local and further afield musicians. Sneaky Pete’s, whose name comes from the American slang for drinking from the bottle in a brown paper bag, has a long history dating way back to the 70s and has been vital in maintaining Edinburgh’s music scene in recent decades. Sneaky Pete’s perfectly blends being a well-established gig venue in the early evening and a vibrant club through the night. Catering to underground tastes, Sneaky Pete’s regular nights include my personal favourites Wasabi Disco, a notorious disco funk night, Teesh, a self-proclaimed ‘All You Can Eat Mind Buffet’ of genres, and Soul Jam, a no bars held funk fest. If late night clubbing is not your thing, then Sneaky Pete’s has a huge line up of gigs starting from 7pm and showing the best talent Edinburgh and beyond has to offer.
Another staple in the Edinburgh underground music scene is Cabaret Voltaire (more widely known as ‘Cab Vol’), a well-loved venue residing in a cave just off Cowgate. The upstairs ‘Café’ is a fantastic chill out space to have drinks in the day and take advantage of pizza deals, and turns into a vibrant bar in the evenings full of eager punters. Downstairs is the main club, a space and stage where the people of Edinburgh can see some of the finest DJ talent in Scotland. It hosts Hector’s House every Tuesday, a huge student night playing the best in house/techno/disco. The locally grown Cheap Picasso also throws regular Gasoline Dance Machine nights, bringing a blend of disco and house to the city. By bringing some of the biggest names in DJing to Edinburgh, Cab Vol has staked its claim to being one of the best nights in the capital.
La Belle Angele
Originating in the early 90s when it played host to the likes of Oasis and The Libertines, La Belle Angele was sadly destroyed by a fire on Cowgate in 2002. In 2014 it rose from the ashes and returned to Edinburgh, and now houses some of the best gig nights in Edinburgh. It plays host to the ever popular Nightvision nights, bringing the likes of Mr Scruff, Bondax and Pan-Pot to Edinburgh. The 550 capacity venue regularly has bands from around the globe playing and supports local Edinburgh artists with the new Serendipity night, bringing music and art together in a single event.