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Buddies nightclub: Did you dance the night away with Take That in Broughty Ferry?

The exterior of Buddies in Broughty Ferry.
The exterior of Buddies in Broughty Ferry.

After stints as the Chalet and the Sands nightclubs, revellers in Broughty Ferry had a new venue in town in 1985 when Buddies opened on the esplanade.

Many still have fond memories of the place to this day.

Buddies brought star names to the Ferry including Take That who performed there in the early 1990s for just £100 before going on to achieve global stardom.

But the history of the much-missed nightspot goes back some 90 years.

The Chalet Discotheque

The premises close to the waterfront first opened as The Chalet Roadhouse on November 16 1933 and was popular with locals wanting to dance the night away from the get go.

The Chalet Discotheque opened in November 1933 and quickly became the go to place to see live bands.

On its opening night, the band entertaining was Bobby Clark And His London Band.

It would be a theme that would set the Chalet apart from other venues as throughout the decades it became the place to see bands.

An advert for the Grove FP Hockey Club Dance can be seen below with entertainment coming from the resident band, The Three of Clubs.

A club night poster for the Chalet.

The venue was also hot on promoting local talent with every Sunday night being home to a talent show where local singers and musicians could show off their musical skills.

The Chalet was a popular venue with its popularity continuing in to the mid-70’s when the place was transformed into The Sands discotheque, and the dancing continued.

The Sands

While legendary Tay Hotel offering, Club Feet, was the go-to spot for mods, rockers, New Romantics and punks around the same time, The Sands offered a range of music for punters all weekend long, offering up different styles of music, ensuring there was something for everyone.

The Sands is well remembered by funk and soul lovers as well as punters just wanting a boogie at the weekend.

On Friday and Saturday nights you could boogie to the latest chart music but it was Sunday nights that are most often remembered as it was then that Northern Soul, Funk and jazz was on the menu with only a few hints of chart music thrown in for good measure.

The Sands was one of the places that jazz fans were able to see legendary Dundee jazz trumpeter, Jimmy Deuchar, on his return to his home city in the 1970s.

He played in some of the world’s finest jazz and show bands alongside luminaries like Johnny Dankworth, Tubby Hayes, Jack Parnell, Ronnie Scott and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

The interior of the Sands nightclub in Broughty Ferry as it looked in October 1978.

Dundee blog, Retro Dundee, remembers the nights way back when, saying: “Sunday nights were the best nights to pop along to the Broughty Ferry hotspot musically speaking, because their choice of sounds on Sundays were of a more specialist variety.

“There was a lot of serious funk going down, plenty of hot soul imports spinning and a fair amount of Northern Soul belted out too. They did drop a dollop of chart pop stuff along the way but it was in much smaller portions than you’d get on Fridays and Saturdays.

The bright and curvy interior of The Sands which can be seen here.

“The atmosphere was better on Sundays too which made it a great way to finish off a weekend’s clubbing.

“As well as DJ’s blasting out the latest dancefloor goodies, The Sands also hosted jazz events on Sunday afternoons and anyone wanting to jam alongside Dundee’s top jazz musician, Jimmy Deuchar, were welcome to.”

Buddies Nightclub

When The Sands era came to an end it was time for Buddies to take over. There was little to no change to the venue’s exterior, however the interior went through a dramatic transformation with a much more monochromatic look being installed.

The dancefloor at Buddies nightclub in 1985 with Alex Sweeney in the DJ Booth.

Gordon Gurvan who ran Retro Dundee until 2011 wasn’t a Buddies regular but does recall a night where he almost arrived at the club in a very unique way: “When The Sands changed to Buddies in the mid-80’s, my regular Sunday funk sessions stopped not long after it opened.

“I did try Buddies on a few occasions though before eventually waving goodbye to it all, with my last visit being in 1985.

The cocktail bar in Buddies in 1985.

“I remember one Sunday evening, me and a couple of mates were walking along the Esplanade and we stopped to chat to a lassie who had her horse with her on the beach.

“After a wee blether, I jokingly asked if there was any chance of a lift along to Buddies – but she actually said OK.

“I was about to mount the horse when I had a sudden flashback of a scary incident I had on a horse a few years earlier, so I backed off. I wish now I had got on, because there can’t be that many people who can say they have gone along to a disco on horseback.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to seize the moment.”

The venue won Disco Mirror’s New Club of the Year for Scotland in 1986 and was a successful adult venue before licensing issues caused them to focus their attention on their hugely popular under-18 nights in the early 90s.

It was a coming of age for many, with most getting a carry out and having a sneaky drink in the park before heading along to the venue hoping their mums wouldn’t catch them.

Special guest appearances

Buddies wasn’t short of special guests during its active years either. In November 1986 soap opera fans were treated to an appearance by recently booted EastEnders star Ross Davidson who had made a ‘heroic’ exit from the soap earlier that year.

An article at the time said: “Proof that being dropped from Britain’s most popular soap doesn’t necessarily harm your popularity was provided by Ross Davidson at Buddies in Broughty Ferry last night.

“The former EastEnders star, who made a heroic exit from the series earlier this year was mobbed by his female fans at the night club during a personal appearance.

Ross Davidson and his fiancée Shirley Cheriton in the 90s.

“Those wanting to dance had few problems as an enthusiastic queue packed the floor waiting to have a precious few words with their hero.

“The Scottish-born actor signed autographs and answered questions during his hour-long appearance.”

It wasn’t just soap stars who pleased the crowds at the club.

Before they hit the big time, boy band heartthrobs Take That were brought to the Ferry venue by promoter Tony Cochrane at a price of just £100 a night.

Take That performed at Buddies around the same time as this gig at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre in 1993.

Even burly bouncers couldn’t prevent waves of hysterical fans from reaching Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange, Howard Donald and, at that time, Robbie Williams.

Take That were beginning a journey that would lead to them becoming worldwide stars, capable of filling Hampden with 160,000 fans over three nights and making almost £10 million in ticket sales.

The Atlantic and Jacques

Following a fire at the venue in late 1994, which caused over £200,000 worth of damage, Buddies closed down, but it wasn’t long before the venue was home to the Atlantic nightclub with people hitting the venue for the dancing most weekends.

A salsa dance class in the Atlantic nightclub in 1999.

The new venture didn’t go without a hitch though and in June 2000 flooding damaged a huge area of the building.

Some of the damage inside the building following flooding.

Just four months later the building would be once again hit by a blaze although the damage this time was not as extensive as the first.

In 2001 more change was on the horizon as the nightclub became Jacques with brightly coloured interior, strobe lights and special guests of its own.

The inside of Jacques nightclub in 2001.

For the next few years punters enjoyed weekends at Jacques with the likes of model Jordan aka Katie Price making appearances in 2003.

Model Jordan with fan James McConnachie at Jacques in 2003.

But by 2007 the death knell rang once and for all and after more than 70 years the building was razed to the ground to make way for a restaurant.

Jacques nightclub being demolished in 2007.

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