Violate has, in it's day, been a somewhat contentious club in Glasgow. One of the Scottish BDSM mailing lists lists it as an 'unsafe club', and indeed the first times I heard it mentioned, it was amid critisism. But after I attended their wonderful Edinburgh special event, I decided to check it out for myself. I attended Violate in Glasgow twice, in January and June 2003, and this review is based on those two visits.
Violate is held in the Big Joint in Glasgow. To someone not local, it does at first seem well out of the centre, and hard to find - but a few moments spent with a map and it's not hard to find by car, at all. Given the small number of cars outside, it would seem that locals find it accessile by public transport too. The Big Joint seems to be in an industrial area, which can seem a little offputting at first, but it does mean there is no-one watching to see you walk from your car to the venue in fetish clothing.
The door staff are great - new attendees are asked if they need to be shown around, and told where everything is. As Violate is in four rooms on two levels, it can help to know where you want to go first. It has a much more easy-going dress code than other clubs I've been too - officially it's 'fetish or black clothing', but you will find the odd person in normal street clothing inside.
Inside, you'll find a four main areas: a small dance-floor, a chill-out room which has comfortable chairs and sometimes stalls selling fetish items, a bar, and a play area. Each of these seems to attract like-minded but ever-changing crowds, as people move from one space to another as moods change. The dance floor seems to start quiet, a few people hanging round the edges of a dark smokey room, but as the night progresses, becomes busier and more active.. or maybe the music just got better. The chill-out room is a great place to chat, being quieter than the bar.
The play area is probably the largest room. Quietish music is playing, along with an ever-changing SM and fetish slide-show projected onto the wall. The equipment is good, and varied, although some pieces do seem to wobble a little, and they don't inspire the same level of solid confidence as equipment at other clubs. The atmosphere on our most recent visit was quite wonderful - a very warm, accepting group around the play area; watching rather than staring, appreciating, learning.. not ogling.
This same warm, friendly atmosphere seemed to spread to the rest of the club. Dispite the bad press they'd had in the past, Violate seemed like a safe, friendly place to be. If there were problems, the staff were only too happy to have it brought to their attention, and they acted immediately. Matt and Tigg particularly are approachable, friendly and helpful.
If there is one complaint you can make about Violate, it's that it can be too friendly and welcoming. The easy-going dress-code, and low-key approach of staff in a multi-room venue means that non-scene types can drift in, and if there was to be trouble, it would be down to those attending to alert staff.
But I loved it. I loved the mood, the atmosphere, the people. I loved the music on the dancefloor at the end of the night. I loved the free curry. I loved the Red Moon stall, and the wonderful electrical toys. I loved the warm weather, and the cool air blowing in through open doors.
If someone new to the scene was to ask me, 'Should I go to Violate', I'd say 'Play safe, ask staff if you have any concerns, but yes.. go. You'll love it.'