Dundee nightclub tycoon Tony Cochrane has unearthed forgotten video footage of legendary 1980s venue Club Feet. Gayle Ritchie looks back at the club’s legacy and shares some old photos.
It was one of Dundee’s coolest nightclubs – a hang-out for mods, rockers, New Romantics and punks in the 1980s.
Running from 1982 to 1984 at the former Tay Hotel, Club Feet attracted music lovers and misfits of all ages as well as a fair few celebrities.
Former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne hung out at the club’s heavy rock night and Elton John popped his head in after a gig at the Caird Hall.
Singer Billy Mackenzie, frontman of The Associates, was a regular “Club Footer”, too.
The popular venue was run by Dundee nightclub tycoon Tony Cochrane who these days runs Club Tropicana, Aura, Duck Slattery’s and Fat Sams, as well as more than a dozen venues stretched across every city in Scotland.
Bored at home during lockdown, Tony dug through his vast collection of old VHS tapes, stored in boxes in his attic… and found some boasting footage of Club Feet in the early 1980s.
“I thought, ‘Jeez! I forgot those were there!’” says Tony.
“The plan was to show the videos to people at the time but we never got round to doing it.
“Nobody has ever seen them before so it’s really quite exciting.
“It’ll be fun for people to watch in this time of doom and gloom and they’re sure to bring back a lot of memories.”
The videos, which are almost four decades old, show scenes from a popular under-18s night in 1982 and an older crowd of revellers a couple of years later.
Tony has cobbled together footage from the under-18s night and plans to stream it on his Facebook page at 6pm – which he says is accessible to all – on January 23.
The film of the older crowd “with two-foot hairstyles” will be streamed on a date yet to be confirmed in February.
“It’s bizarre to imagine that some of the folk in the videos will be parents and grandparents now!” says Tony.
“It’ll be fun for their kids and grandkids to watch granny and granddad, or mum and dad, dancing around and getting up to all sorts of antics!”
Club Feet was unusual in that it was a non-commercial, alternative and safe space for people to hang out in Dundee.
Its walls were painted boudoir-style purple and red and there was a sense of being able to slip into the shadows.
It was based in the former Tay Hotel, with access from Dock Street, in what is now Malmaison’s restaurant.
“It was a little club – a cool wee place,” says Tony.
“In its time, it was a great place to go and Billy Mackenzie of The Associates hung out there with a crowd.
“In other clubs, folk had to wear shirts and ties and dress up, but at Club Feet, it was an alternative scene and there were no rules.
“The music would be everything from Bowie to Madness, punk, mod, New Romantic and Northern Soul. The videos show all the different dance styles.”
The under-18s footage shows “kids from the schemes” making “gang signs”, says Tony, although there was never any trouble among different factions.
A young girl surrounded by her giggling friends opens a Valentine’s Day card while a boy and his pals snigger nervously in the background.
“I do wonder if any romance came out of that?” says Tony. “Maybe they’ve got 10 kids now!”
On the subject of Club Feet celebrity visitors, aside from Billy MacKenzie, Tony recalls Ozzy Osbourne popping in back in the early 80s.
“He came in for a heavy rock night and hung out at the club for hours and loved it.”
Elton John very nearly came in, too.
“He had played a gig in the city and heard about Club Feet,” says Tony.
“He got his driver to stop outside and check it out. I think he decided it was too busy for him as he never came in. But it’s good to know the club’s name was held in such high regard.”
While rifling through his old VHS collection, Tony also unearthed video footage taken by PR staff at fellow club Tokyo Joe’s in 1984.
“The team went out on the streets and into shopping centres with a video camera chatting to kids and telling them they’d be famous.
“We’ll release that footage in the next few months.”
Former Lawside Academy pupil Tony has a long history of hosting events in Dundee, having promoted the first Northern Soul all-nighters in Scotland at the Marryat Hall and run jazz-funk and alternative music clubs back in the 1970s and 80s before organising rave nights at Dundee’s De Stihls and Bally’s in Arbroath.
He started running Club Feet with DJ Dave Calikas, one of the most respected figures in dance music in Scotland and whose DJ name, back then, was Dancing Dick Dastardly.
Tony would sometimes DJ as “Dave’s back-up” and then opened Fat Sams in 1983, where Dave became the resident DJ.
They brought big names in the world of dance music to the city including A Guy Called Gerald, Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox.
- Did you go to Club Feet? Maybe you feature in some of these pictures? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any memories.
- Club Feet footage from 1982 will be streamed on Tony Cochrane’s Facebook page at 6pm on Saturday January 23.