Run by Edinburgh arts organisation and creative space provider Out of the Blue, the Bongo Club has led a nomadic life across the city since it first opened in a derelict bus garage on New Street in 1996. While Out of the Blue has since hived off and moved to the Drill Hall in Leith, the Bongo survived the flattening of the bus garage in 2003 and the reclamation of its new home in Moray House by owners Edinburgh University in 2013.
Nearly confounded by the lack of club-worthy space in Edinburgh, the Bongo found an ingenious method of survival in 2013, moving to the network of cellars beneath Edinburgh’s Central Library which lay empty for 11 months of the year but are colonised by the main Underbelly venue during August’s Edinburgh Festival. This arrangement means that the Bongo has a permanent home, which is in keeping with its typically frayed and off the beaten track aesthetic, although it sadly also means that this key part of Edinburgh’s regular nightlife is unrepresented in the city during August.
It’s a distinctly bohemian location with a character all of its own, offering occasional gigs, theatre workshops and a semi-regular ‘rock ‘n’ roll ping-pong’ event. The clubbing programme is the highlight, however, and a selection of weekly and monthly residencies cover a range of genres that Edinburgh rarely hosts elsewhere. Throughout most of the week (Sundays and Mondays tend to go dark) expect to hear hip hop, reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, soul and much more.