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Vibe @ Club Ego, Edinburgh, Scotland (with Venn Smyth)

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venn smyth

Aww, student life! Staying out late, sleeping in, eating cereal for dinner, and…. handing out condoms to strangers in bars…

Or, at least, that was Venn Smyth’s student life, after he started working for LGBT Youth Scotland on their sexual health project.

We caught up to discuss the difference between Scotland and England, how a femidom works, and what it was like being one of the only boys on the netball team!

Find out more about Venn on instagram and twitter

Venn Smyth  00:00

There’s almost like a bit of a way to check as well. Because if you not ever do it know what that was unless you were Yeah, and part of it, so it was good like away. It’s like, Oh yeah, boot ego. or someone’s like,

00:13

Oh yeah,

Venn Smyth  00:13

okay, you go Yeah. You’re like, Oh, okay. They’re like, Oh, what’s up?

K Anderson  00:22

I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode, I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know, unashamedly pop with a strong message. Then Smith writes songs that dance around subjects and stories important to him, such as identity queerness community and finding your own voice. We caught up to discuss vibe at either a Tuesday night queer student night in Edinburgh, that he went to in the mid noughties, when he was studying at university. This is like the first episode that I’ve done. That’s based in Scotland. I know.

Venn Smyth  01:35

Quite a bit of pleasure.

K Anderson  01:38

And, and so I think it might be useful. First of all, to differentiate between England and Scotland, they’re really close to each other, but they’re very, very different in terms of personality and outlook. So why don’t we start with the five the five key differences? Well, I put you on the spot. Yeah.

Venn Smyth  02:09

Well, I guess I’m very aware of being Scottish. I was aware of being Scottish when I grew up, as well as an identity that was different from the rest of the UK. Whereas I guess, I think in England, people wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves as English, but maybe they describe themselves as like a northerner Yeah, are from Liverpool or London or whatever it may be. Where Scotland has a very strong identity. Yeah, as a whole. So that kind of says quite a lot in itself, I guess a little bit whilst different? Yeah, I can’t live this loser like strong traditions with it as well, that can come as part of that. Which, and sometimes you almost aren’t really aware of them. But like when I moved to London, even just like seeing, like, odd words, and that I don’t have a very strong Scottish accent not from like, Glasgow or. But then, you know, I’d sort of say things and suddenly people will be like, What? What are you saying? Like, I just want you to notice, yeah, not necessarily understanding what I’m saying. We’re just saying like words or phrases always here. Are you talking about things that you wouldn’t do down here? And that makes us much more exciting than

03:46

I’m

K Anderson  03:46

used to, but in terms of Outlook between English and Scottish people? Would you say that there are any kind of defining characteristics

Venn Smyth  03:58

it’s a bit of like romanticism in Scotland and like from the the moody I think we’re in touch of being a bit moody moody skies it’s seeps into yellow with lots of kind of RT thinkers and music and stuff as well. That’s not really an outlook but it’s just and yeah, definitely that kind of feeling of being like the underdog. I think when you think of the UK, yeah. Which kind of like yeah, in some ways, kind of like brings you together a little bit, I guess. Yeah, it was good.

K Anderson  04:38

You haven’t kind of an enemy.

Venn Smyth  04:39

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You know, like we’re I was terrible at football and but you know, you’d support and drop everything. And you know, it’s get involved and chat long.

K Anderson  04:53

What about darts? You get a Dart.

Venn Smyth  04:56

I’m terrible darts about Scotland. I’m not representing Scotland. That’s actually my secret. I have no idea.

K Anderson  05:07

Okay. just seems like a thing. tiddlywinks.

Venn Smyth  05:13

Darling cricket? Huh?

K Anderson  05:17

I’ve never done caring and want to.

Venn Smyth  05:20

Yeah, there were some people in my school who did it. Well, I

K Anderson  05:23

think there were like curling champions, which was, but it wasn’t like not. Okay. Like that she and I went to school were at one of the classes was volleyball. Great. Like, yeah, it it like in Australia. Yeah. Today like they. Yeah, I don’t know if it was like something to do with preparing people for the Olympics or something. I don’t know. But I think in as well as p if you were on this kind of thing, you would have a volleyball class. So you’d do like, five hours of volleyball a week. Like, isn’t that weird?

Venn Smyth  06:05

In addition to be?

K Anderson  06:06

Yeah, yeah. And volleyball. Yeah, maybe maybe I made that up. But like, but even if I did, like, just to do that much volleyball in a week, like, How hard is volleyball? Hard? Okay, I guess it must be but like, it’s just such a weird. I bought to focus on.

Venn Smyth  06:27

Well, I don’t know. You’ve got sand, I guess.

K Anderson  06:32

I don’t think it was beach volleyball.

Venn Smyth  06:34

That’s why I’m thinking right? Is there a difference?

K Anderson  06:39

Is there I don’t know. I didn’t go to the beach to

Venn Smyth  06:43

play. I think we did do volleyball once in school as well. Like, once, and that was it.

K Anderson  06:49

And then the rest of the time it was curling? Yeah, yeah.

Venn Smyth  06:52

I used to play netball when I was in primary school and wheeling. So there wasn’t enough. So it was usually girls didn’t that boy was difficult, but there wasn’t enough girls in my school to do netball. So I didn’t valiantly Yeah. absolutely loved it. My friends were the girls and they wanted to play netball. And I was scared to playing football. I didn’t like it. So.

K Anderson  07:20

But did you have to wear a skirt? No, I got to wear shorts. Okay, disappointing. Yeah. This gets with the flap. Yeah, yeah, they’re really excited. But great. Isn’t that weird? Wait, I’ve never thought about this.

Venn Smyth  07:34

Yeah, but then. So there’s only so we then competed against other primary schools in all the villages.

K Anderson  07:41

And they made you wear a wig? Yes, Vina.

Venn Smyth  07:49

Then the bigger schools it was all girls. So we were quite strange because it was me. Me and Ollie, who was by two boys in the team. But then there’s one other school that also had to buy as well. Were they interesting?

K Anderson  08:04

Did you ever get weird looks from parents?

08:08

Yeah, yeah, I

Venn Smyth  08:09

think sometimes, but I think it was kind of fine in our village. I feel just quite small. So yeah, and like I was just when you went elsewhere, people were like, Oh, that’s weird. are also my family as well. I think I remember like aunts and uncles being like, Oh, yeah, so you know in football teams. I know you I play netball. Serve like that shouldn’t be happening. Why are you letting your child play netball? That’s very good. I never got to be goal attack, though. That was the best position.

K Anderson  08:38

Goal attack. Yeah. So what is that when you’re blocking other city,

Venn Smyth  08:42

you’re out there and get to shoot? Oh, you get to and you get to kind of run like most of the court. So it’s split split into three sections. So you get the middle section. And then like the two end sections, if I remember this correctly, so go attack you can kind of like run most of the court and also be in shooting semi Soho. So normally certain people like to shoot. Otherwise, you have to make past other people. And you got to run with it as well. So you’ve got to like, take two steps. That’s all you can take. And then pivot an impasse

K Anderson  09:17

pivot. And you can’t bounce the ball.

Venn Smyth  09:22

You know, you can’t like dribble, but you can bounce you can you can pass it with a pass. Yeah, it’s quite good technique. Sneaky. But yeah, I was usually Wing Attack, which was like everything except you couldn’t shoot. So it was just a bit dull.

K Anderson  09:40

So how do they choose who got to shoot with it? Like, sorry, you’re not good enough.

Venn Smyth  09:47

Yeah, you have to come like me. You would like to be one of the tools? Well, no. I was at the task. The other boy who played he was the tallest and he was go keeper because he would just stand like These are small girls and they were like, that’s unfair. Yeah. But he was also with netball coach’s son. So he, he kind of had to play netball. He didn’t really get much choice out.

K Anderson  10:13

Was he? reluctant? Right. Okay. So what are we talking about today?

Venn Smyth  10:26

Well, so we’re talking about Knights that is no longer. I feel like so I have an exam that I’ve listened to your podcast now as well as if you like

K Anderson  10:39

planning if you want to know,

Venn Smyth  10:40

but I feel like, you know, it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. But it’s like lots of like, gossip stories and amazing people and nights out, but I’m gonna talk about like a student. And it was really shouldn’t night in Edinburgh in the 2000s when I was a student. So if you’re, you know, it’s kind of different, but it was also very much. Yeah,

K Anderson  11:02

but surely there’s tonnes of gossip from?

Venn Smyth  11:04

Oh, yeah, totally. I guess I just mean that. It wasn’t. It’s not like an amazing London club, where you saw these amazing characters and all that kind of stuff.

K Anderson  11:13

But it was great as well. But like, surely like he pulled someone’s hair backwards. They threw up in a toilet.

Venn Smyth  11:20

Maybe not in the club, but certainly, afterwards.

K Anderson  11:26

We got plenty of water. Yeah. And

Venn Smyth  11:30

yes, ego vibe.

K Anderson  11:35

And so, yeah, so let’s just discuss the name. So, vibe was the name of

Venn Smyth  11:42

survivors the name of the club, which, as far as I remember, was not a gay club. So that was just a club, but then the night will go Yeah. Was a Tuesday night. And that was the beginning at at five. Which I don’t really know what it was otherwise, but I knew it was you’d never go.

K Anderson  12:03

Any other nights. It was a Tuesday. Yeah. Tuesday,

Venn Smyth  12:06

and then people that are going to Eagle’s eye on a Tuesday. Oh, okay. Okay,

K Anderson  12:13

I’ve got you figured. Yeah. And so being on a Tuesday it like, it was only students there. Well, yeah.

Venn Smyth  12:22

So it was a student night. But also, I mean, the scene there’s a scene in Edinburgh, but it’s not huge. So again, it was a great mix of Yes, students. I was a student at that time, but then also the be lots of people who were definitely not not students as well. And it was just like, it was a good mixture of everybody via ages, all genders are going to come together for a Tuesday night dance till three in the morning. I guess predominately students, but yeah, I don’t remember it being like really mix as well. And there’s lots of lots of ages. Okay. Yeah.

K Anderson  13:03

And so there were well known predatory older people there.

Venn Smyth  13:09

There’s definitely some older people at the bar. I remember who were converting the same faces every week. For sure, a man who drank lots of red wine. I remember, he was always bopping around, sort of had to can have often red wine. Red Wine stains are very sharp. And, but then, yeah, lots of people who have just it was a night that people would go to even if you’re a student, and they were just there, queer and living in Edinburgh, and were denied out during the week. Yeah, that was the only option. Yeah, otherwise in terms of dancing NATO, otherwise, you could go to the bars. But why? Cc blooms, which is still going strong. Have

K Anderson  13:55

you had any C’s? I have, but like a long time ago, but I mean, it’s named after Bette Midler. His character and beaches will always be iconic and forever in my heart,

Venn Smyth  14:06

forever, forever going. I mean, that was right. And it’s still around. I can’t remember if that was open, like until three during the week as well, at that point. I’m pretty sure is no like, I think you can just go for it. But, but it didn’t always have to. Yeah, yeah. But in terms of looking like a night out for proper having a dance on a Tuesday, that was where you’d go whether student or not.

K Anderson  14:37

And so they’re generally the scene in Edinburgh was just weekend stuff. Yeah, so you

Venn Smyth  14:43

had the pink triangle and have the pink triangles, which is where all the buyers were. So you’ve got CTS and then Havana which is still there, I think next door to it, which is a bar and then planet out which I think is There is no just called planet, which is this dyno. So there are like beside the Playhouse theatre, and then across like the roundabout to make this triangle then you had Viber ego, which is sort of in the middle and then the street, which is still there as well, which now has a legal licence. I think chemistry is about not a street street is a bar, okay, off the street on the corner, then separate Brighton Street. Okay. So that was like, yeah, that was that was the key

K Anderson  15:31

to not many options,

Venn Smyth  15:32

no many options. And there was some times that other nights kind of popped up here in there. Yeah, at different venues like not in that area. And in terms of the regular Coronavirus that was it. There was a couple of other bars that weren’t in that area. There are still there’s also through the region, like really nice, real el pub up by Carlton Hill, which is also an area to go and meet people if you fancy at nighttime.

K Anderson  16:03

convenient.

Venn Smyth  16:04

Amanda was one got the new term bar which is more like a crazy place that hadn’t disco space downstairs.

K Anderson  16:12

And you’re doing air quotes. Do you mean something

Venn Smyth  16:16

is a dark? Dark disco dark downstairs, but you can also dance as well.

K Anderson  16:22

To just thrust to the tip.

Venn Smyth  16:25

Yeah, yeah. No longer exists anymore.

K Anderson  16:28

Okay. So dancing on a Tuesday at ego? Yeah. What kind of music would you expect to hear?

Venn Smyth  16:37

So, so when I was there, this was so very much mice. Student times, it was like 2006 2008 so some indie stuff. Wherever they can have pretty much the mainstream kind of pop stuff going on. Really? And they always used to play Queen at the end of the night.

K Anderson  17:07

Don’t stop me now.

Venn Smyth  17:08

Yeah. Geez. Yeah. Also very student. Without fail, that was the end of the night. I think maybe then afterwards, unless I’m victims of another night. And then they played on the Bonnie Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Attack the high road.

K Anderson  17:29

And that was a way of like, making sure people left Yeah,

Venn Smyth  17:31

kind of I think they did. Don’t stop me. No. And everyone’s like that. And then everyone Yeah, and then everybody got together and like, like, everybody held hands and kind of like, oh, went in and out kind of like a hophni celebration at the end of the night. Yeah, that’s fun. And that was like the signal. Okay.

K Anderson  17:51

It’s time is over now.

Venn Smyth  17:52

Yeah. By that point, the lights were on. And you’re like, Okay, but then you can kind of like Sado besides you know, whoever you want to do to like, hold hands and do your Loch Lomond?

K Anderson  18:02

And did that ever work for you?

Venn Smyth  18:04

And not all the time? I can’t really remember there may have been may have been no occasion that might have worked as usually with some friends so you’d have to kind of make sure you looked after each other the night blend sometimes that already disappeared

K Anderson  18:25

into the basement bath and wait for

Venn Smyth  18:27

their own at that point.

K Anderson  18:29

And so so 2016 2008 and it was kind of poppy kind of alternative. Yeah, let me sit down with it stand out.

Venn Smyth  18:37

So there was an upstairs bit which is here it goes like very much in the mainstream stuff and like to think of what songs were going on at that time. I remember that song. Fascination being played quite a lot. It was like Danish Oh by alpha baby yeah a lot of that any girls allow? Oh yeah girls like for sure that’s going on girls loads I mean s club and pressure kept appearing on away not reach. Yeah. Oh, definitely. Yeah, that one and a bit. Robin she around at that point. I feel that Yeah, some of that going on. Like rocks up kind of stuff. But then laws are very mainstream pop things as well, which is upstairs. Then there’s a downstairs bar or club which dance floor which is much more I can’t think of vague memories of downstairs. But it’s like a bit more like dancy. Oh a bit more like hardcore techno as much as you can in Edinburgh. Maybe there’s a little bit rocky so I can’t really I feel like maybe sometimes it’s switched up. Sometimes it’s a bit more edgy and Rocky. And then sometimes it’s a bit more techno house.

K Anderson  20:05

But you weren’t interested in that, because you were in the pop room,

Venn Smyth  20:07

and I can sweat you, I was gonna fit in between between the two. downstairs, I think was where you had to go to the smoking area as well. So, my student friends, and I’ve got all 10 decks of facts on the way there. So we’d always pop out for sort of a chat about how the evenings going and sort of bounce through that little area there. And that was a bit more of a q&a, you can bump into people, it’s a bit more smoky, I think was a fish tank down there as well, in a smoking area seems like horrendous,

K Anderson  20:42

but yeah, that’s not good.

Venn Smyth  20:44

Sure there was, or at least looked like in the wall.

K Anderson  20:52

Something that you just said that I just want to ask some questions about I. There’s no way for me really saying this without saying I can lose it. But I never had like a group of friends. So I would only ever go out on my own, or with one other person until I’ve never gone like really, very often gone out with a big group of people. Yeah. What? Like, and you were just saying that you like met up in the smoking area to see how the nights going? Yeah. Did you go there with a group of people and then split up?

Venn Smyth  21:27

Yeah, so I was never over huge group of friends. There’s, yeah, sort of a handful of people that I knew. So my friend Duncan from uni. So we studied together. So he was my other girlfriend on there on the course. So that was our Tuesday night haunt. And then Nigel is not a friend. Well, they’re so weird usually going to meet up and then probably other people that we knew there as well. So you’d kind of bump into people there. And yeah, it’s kind of a big deal people there and can meet other people there. And then I think I was always a bit like worried about going off by myself at that point. I think so. Probably. But then because you

K Anderson  22:17

were like nervous about doing it or because you were worried about being perceived as a slag?

Venn Smyth  22:28

I don’t know, probably a bit both to be honest. I think like, there was loads of missed opportunities for me to have sex with strangers I probably didn’t take as a student because those I didn’t know what I was thinking. But yeah, I think Yeah, I was gonna meet Yeah, making sure that your friends are alright. But then yeah, you would split off as well, and can have a bit of a dance maybe a bit of a snug if you’re lucky. But then kind of come back together to regroup. At the end of the night, I think it was like a sort of unwritten code. But yeah, my friend had an early student days, he like went home with someone and to this hotel and had like, a, quite a bad experience. And like he, like tried to steal his phone and like a night, let him go off of this guy. Like after then I think we were like really a bit more like careful about who if we left if someone if afraid, left the club with someone sort of just checking their Okay, as much as you know, in that kind of scenario.

K Anderson  23:34

And so without, like, veering into like a therapy session, and do you always feel responsible for everyone else?

Venn Smyth  23:41

Yeah, yeah, very much. I think I always kind of had that. Well, so I also worked at

K Anderson  23:49

Yeah, fight as well. good segue.

Venn Smyth  23:53

Yeah. So bye. Yeah. And that was how I first went there, actually, as well. But yeah, I feel like I’m, yeah, I always feel like I need to have kind of some sort of role, which may be like looking after, yeah, there’s something. I’m like the person who’d go to a party and like, need to be making the drinks or I need to kind of know, okay, my position a little bit. I don’t really know where that came from. But

K Anderson  24:16

no. So know your position in relation to the rest or

Venn Smyth  24:19

Yeah, or like, yeah, being able to kind of be accurate to look after other people or not all the time. Yeah. Messy myself as well.

K Anderson  24:29

Yeah, it’s interesting.

Venn Smyth  24:31

Yeah. But I think Yeah, well, I don’t know what your scripts feel like you can have. I do anyway, I was split into different people or different roles of in different

K Anderson  24:41

groups, depending on the pair

Venn Smyth  24:43

down here and wherever and depending on the dynamics. Yeah, I feel like I’ll always kind of balance off like if I’m with a group of extroverts, I’ll probably be quite interesting. Why. Yeah. However ever, it’s absolutely round and I’ll be the one that’s like, Okay, let’s go let’s bring the conversation in.

K Anderson  24:58

Yeah. That I feel like yeah, I’ve the same way. Mentally exhausting, isn’t it? Yeah, I

Venn Smyth  25:08

think Yeah. And then then to actually figure out who you are when you argue right? Yeah, exactly. Then you’re like, well, I don’t really know. I think also got a Yeah. And that I’ve always done. Even as Shouldn’t I guess I was always like working as well. And so I was an I was doing lots of part time jobs. And I still do as well, like, as a freelancer as well. You are like loads of different people to loads of different people. Yeah. So you can kind of be like, were like 10 different hats in one day. And not think about it too much. But I think people will perceive you in different ways.

K Anderson  25:46

Yeah. And it’s, yeah, that all that weird thing about like, Am I doing this? Just to make the situation? smoother, or am I doing this to please everyone out? Yeah, not thinking about my own knee? Yeah, definitely.

Venn Smyth  26:04

Definitely. Some people pleasing in there as well. Yeah. Let’s

K Anderson  26:08

see. Yeah, it’s weird. And it’s like, it’s not a conscious thing as well. So you can’t? Yeah, it’s harder to stop that behaviour. Anyway, through. deep dive into that deep. Yeah. So what else is going on? So you just talked about the, like, working there.

Venn Smyth  26:30

Yeah, it’s my first. So I was a student at this time as well. So studying classical music, at Napier uni in Edinburgh. And But before that, before I moved to Edinburgh taking a euro. And I was I didn’t go to I didn’t go travelling, I instead moved to Glasgow, and worked in a coffee shop and tried to do gigs, you know, make it big. which didn’t really happen. But you know, I had a good time. But you only gave yourself a year. Yeah, just a year. But I was also. So back when I was in school, I ended up setting a setting up with my friend Charlene, naturally, we set up like an advice Centre in our school I have to do. So people would come and chat to us in we call it a living room. And people would come along, and like, tell us their problems. And we would like offer advice and stuff. I know, right? This is what you were allowed to do.

K Anderson  27:46

This school let you do. Yeah, we

Venn Smyth  27:48

weren’t actually worried like taxing people. But it was like our information base.

K Anderson  27:51

Okay.

Venn Smyth  27:52

So we also then end up running like workshops as well. So it was all like, it was in like pure education that just suddenly become a buzzword. We were, for whatever reason, had shown some sort of interest in it. And then we’re, like, thrown into doing this, which is how I ended up getting due for it and doing it. But yeah, at that age, I have no idea how they, I mean, I knew absolutely nothing but there was like, trying to dishing out advice, or at least handing out leaflets to give advice. Yeah, quite odd. explains a lot. A lot of where I’ve gone with my work. Yeah, I don’t really know anything. But I learned a lot about facilitating workshops at that point, because I didn’t know anything. So I just always be like, but what do you think? And I realised that actually, that’s what it’s all about agree of that for a long time. And so when I moved to Glasgow, I ended up working for a charity called LGBT youth Scotland. And we’re still doing great charity kind of does what it says on the tin. So it’s like a youth charity for LGBT young people in Scotland. So I was doing some like music and drama workshops there and I think and then ended up when I moved to Edinburgh to study I got like, I used to work at the Glasgow branch of it transferred to the Edinburgh branch of Rome. And one of the jobs that I was given and things we did there was outreach. So you’d go out, they do skills workshops, which are great, which I absolutely loved, and we’d go into schools and chat about LGBT issues. But then they also did sexual health outreach as well. So the job that I had five years ago was to stand and hand out condoms and lube again, condoms and family jobs, badges as well.

K Anderson  29:50

And so how does a family Dom work?

Venn Smyth  29:53

And what’s kind of just like, sort of like a big sheet of latex, the So like a condom, that’s been cut condoms, we got those just patch of latex. That then use was used for oral sex. Okay, well, that could be a TGA

K Anderson  30:09

when you’re supposed to hold it.

Venn Smyth  30:12

Yeah, like hold it in place. Really impractical. Yeah. And it’s not widely used. Hey, but I may be wrong. But you know, there, there were a thing that we had as part of this. So they had a scheme called see card, which I think was an Edinburgh based thing, but I think maybe elsewhere as well.

K Anderson  30:35

And see like this

Venn Smyth  30:37

mattress. Yeah. Okay. Like condom card. Oh, okay. So you’d sign up to it and get free condoms. So we used to have it at the youth. So we have ran youth groups as well and anmer. So we’d have C card so you could get come in and get, get your condoms, etc. And so then we also used to do this at vape, as well. So that was my first experience. actually think of that night was that and turning up for the shift? So I met a friend met my friend Nigel, who I worked with for many years in the streets, and then we in the pub. And then yeah, then took me there. And so then I was like, standing in the door, being the condom guys. So yeah, so often that I was doing that at the start of the night. Maybe till, like midnight, one o’clock or something. And then maybe we would, then I thought there has been a couple hours after.

K Anderson  31:33

So. So my first question was, what was the like the weirdest kind of question like, you know, extending this thing about advice? What was the weirdest question or piece of advice that people sought from out there in the cloud when you were young giving? Well, I

Venn Smyth  31:48

mean, so it’s quite a weird. I mean, you’re kind of inviting lots of Yeah, attention. Yeah. And often quite love. Well, everyone has been drinking and like, everyone,

K Anderson  32:01

like it, like your head. You got condoms. Yeah. And like, deep down everyone is like, 14 year old Joe

Venn Smyth  32:07

entirely. Like people would just like giggle or like, rip open the condoms in front of you. Or they would just tell divulge all their sex life to you. And like, apropos of nothing

K Anderson  32:21

or like kind of really.

Venn Smyth  32:24

They can notice you and then come back, or they’d come back and then be like, Oh, yeah, I need to have like loads of condoms, because I’m gonna have like, so much sex tonight. Okay. Are they by Oh, so at that point, prep wasn’t around. So we I think I can’t really remember. But I think we had to give her condoms. We can just give out lube. I see. That might be wrong. But I started. Or at least we had to have a bit of a discussion around it as well. Yeah. But quite often, people would be like, Oh, no, I don’t use condoms. And they just go and try and grab all the lube. And then you’d be like, Okay, well, let’s have a chat. Like, wow. Let’s see, I were in your position, like advertised, like the youth group as well. Because if you’ve got up to the age of 2518 to 25 group as well. Yeah, really? Interesting. People would come on to you like

K Anderson  33:22

Well, yeah, and that’s what I was gonna do. Like That was my follow up question. So like, when I was assuming people would come up come on to you. Yeah, like when you were off shift.

Venn Smyth  33:32

Shift as well. Yeah. People would kind of just

K Anderson  33:34

like, Can you show me how to use yeah, oh, yeah.

Venn Smyth  33:39

Which which size D CDs. What do you like to do? Got I remember lots of girls as well. Trying on quite a lot. So

K Anderson  33:51

yeah, but yeah, yeah. However condom dispense? Yeah, I

Venn Smyth  33:55

don’t know. You know, it’s a magical time. and

K Anderson  34:00

time again about the quality of the lube and condoms

Venn Smyth  34:03

and oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah. So it was like the little sachets very very

K Anderson  34:07

sticky horrible stuff. I

Venn Smyth  34:09

don’t like the quality Yeah. Hey, you know it’s free and we’re promoting good set now. Yeah. We are really I mean really great. But yeah, so you just kind of stand for a few hours in the entrance and make and just have lots of conversations about sex lewd about you know, and also people would kind of like sometimes just come and chat to as well like, it’s like that sort of thing about almost like they gave people permission to get up to a little bit and ca to have loads of like really interesting competition. People tell you the whole life stories and just because you’re that guy was standing with the condoms. I don’t know. It’s already quite odd. So it’s like oh, by myself. Yeah. Have a Jaggi and people who are like they’re by themselves as well. Remember we can come up with we often get the same faces would come back and like sort of like the regulars for that. Okay. It’s your turn to chat in the three back

K Anderson  35:00

Is this the guy with the wine on him?

Venn Smyth  35:03

He was afterwards at the bar. And so we did that interview. That was the main one we did. But then we did a couple of other bars as well. And there was another night that could have opened called GHQ gate headquarters. no longer exists, that was next door. So then we used to do it there as well. And then once we’re done, then have a little, little dance back for the condoms, or sometimes half a bag full of condoms, if they’ve been a good night, you know,

K Anderson  35:39

you measure the success of the night by

Venn Smyth  35:40

how we used to get them out in them. We used to do it out, like on the streets as well. So it’s where like, young people might be hanging out, obviously, of age young people 16 Plus, like, in like, skate parks and hanging out. And McDonald’s. We don’t we never get into that kind of vibe. But I remember once I was on a date with this guy walking through Edinburgh, and and he’s like, teenagers, right? Oh, Johnny, man. And this is a route because they knew me as the guy. And they’re like, have you got any condoms on here? And as I know, this guy goes on date with like, What? Why? come and ask you. Why do you hand out condoms? And that was a joke. We never thought after that. Yeah. But you know, hey,

K Anderson  36:35

I’m okay. So if we’re back in if we’re back in ego, your whole student life? So it’s like two, two? Yes. Was that? were you working the whole time?

Venn Smyth  36:47

Yeah, I was always doing what? Uh, yeah, I was I was working as a youth worker, and outreach worker when I was a student. So used to run the youth groups as well. So that was my way to kind of have money as I was a student, but also Yeah, I mean, I guess it was quite interesting. It was all very random, they fell into it. But that was my work instead of having to work in a, in a bar or wherever else other students were doing working in jobs. And I was doing that which is, which is really lucky, I think, and I is how I ended up going into working working in the charity sector and all that good stuff,

K Anderson  37:28

but No, man You didn’t have to pay for entry

Venn Smyth  37:31

and manage didn’t have to pay for entry. And we’d always stare and have a nice little dance after. Sometimes we’d go on and on working I think we did like once a month maybe. So then no doubt we were there. Fast. Okay. It’s also a very small place though. So like, as you know, Edinburgh is quite small city, so yeah, he would. No, no everybody within that club quite easily. so that people can recognise you as the man that gave

K Anderson  38:00

conduct man I told all my sexual history to

Venn Smyth  38:07

see quite a quite an odd Robo written interesting rose up. But um, yeah, I mean, I was just a student as well. So that was again it was like to be in a way I knew more than anything else. But I think I was I’m always very good able just to Yeah, ask questions that can make people feel obligated. Yeah.

K Anderson  38:28

Was it But was there anything actually scary that people asked you? Was it? Oh, yeah, I

Venn Smyth  38:33

wish I can’t think of like specifics. I off top my head. But yeah, for sure. There was like definite times when when people would say things we’d have to like, follow up with a little bit or, and there was like a system to have to report things. If anyone could have mentioned anything.

K Anderson  38:48

But no one like showed you their damage rewards or anything?

Venn Smyth  38:51

No, no, that’s I don’t know. Did anyone I think they may have told me about them. And asked me about sexual health stuff. And I’d be like, I’m not sexual health nurse. I’d literally just get back on qualified to look at anything. But here’s condom use it next time.

K Anderson  39:15

But don’t have sex with anyone because you’re highly infectious.

Venn Smyth  39:20

Go and see your doctor.

K Anderson  39:23

Oh, okay. Um, okay, so back to the club. What does it what is the layout we’ve already talked about? They’re downstairs and upstairs. When you walk through the front door What’s happened? Yeah, so it’s gonna

Venn Smyth  39:36

vary Edinburgh like its grand, kind of entrance up some steps and there’s a big door where I think the boats are kind of stood. And then there’s like, a corridor, I think was read. Pretty sure. And that’s where we used to stand and hand out condoms. But it was also quite fancy out kind of like fancy. I mean time. My this my Maybe slightly rose tinted and I feel it was quite a fancy entrance always felt like you were able to kind of make an entrance and sort of Swan in a little bit and there might be people kind of hanging around at the top of the stairs and also just going a bit before he came into the bar. So I feel that he kind of Watson’s slightly inside strap make it Yeah, like make a bit of an entrance. I think maybe there’s a coat check there somewhere beside me handing out condoms. I’m not sure it’s like somewhere around the area. And then in the upstairs, that was the main bit so there’s just like a big bar on the right. And and then it’s just like big can have a nice room but it’s like a really big room. And then the DGA was at the back on like a red raised stage. And they also had like a catwalk which was just tables all shoved together. But like, I didn’t, there were tables, but like in a big okay stage getting

K Anderson  40:57

getting health and safety like oh my god, people are gonna go.

Venn Smyth  41:02

But yeah, I mean, didn’t feel like that well put together to be honest. But yeah, so it was like in a stage within like a catwalk back at the internal of the room. Which you could wish people would Oh, then at some point, Scott, yeah. And everyone would, at some point probably do a bit of a catwalk down the middle. It could have happened naturally.

K Anderson  41:23

So was that there for performances? Or was it just there?

Venn Smyth  41:27

I don’t think I never saw any performances there. But everybody would try and perform themselves on the neck. It was just, it was like, you know, there was a moment in the night where you’d like, look at your friends and be like, trying to get out there. And then it’s gonna get up there. I feel like that’s where you’d always kiss someone on stage as well. I don’t know why. It was just the I think it was a smoke machine ran there as well. So like it was all a bit more exciting and that he can like, hide amongst the crowd on the stage. And then jump off.

K Anderson  41:59

I love that. I love that thing when there’s this stage on the dark, like, the downs forever. And then there’s always the like, before anyone’s on there. There’s always these moments. Oh, yeah. Looking at each other. Like, Shall we do it? It’s really naughty. Yeah, it’s not your first

Venn Smyth  42:14

round. Yeah. And then of course, and everybody’s trying to go Yeah, like, falling off. Yeah, and then and then to to DJ was going to the back. DJ James Longworth was his name. And he had like two big speakers. So as I’ve, since my brother is two years older than me, and he used to go to ego before I was a student. And he had this whole like life there, which I did not witness. Because when I was shooting we could have missed I think he’d left Edinburgh at that point. But yeah, he used to go there all time. And he used to like, used another DJ used to dance on top of the speakers. Which is like, I never saw that happen. But yeah, so your brother is great. My brother’s gaze on.

K Anderson  43:06

So does that mean? So what does that mean? Like, like, sorry, I know what that means. But like in terms of your social life in Edinburgh, like you’ve already discussed, it being quite a small thing. Yeah, everyone was everywhere.

Venn Smyth  43:21

We we never really overlapped. I think Luckily, probably we didn’t go to the same university. So he went to one that was slightly outside of the city. Yeah. And but he so yeah, when he was in his first year, which I think is when the speaker and dancing happened. I was still at school. Yeah. And then, so then his second year that was when I was living in Glasgow, and then his third year when I became a student, he had them because he did French and German. So he had to go and study abroad. So that year then he was abroad. Yeah, that was when I came into Edinburgh, like fresh place the new gay brother in town

K Anderson  44:11

back to help you pinch the new game. The How often did you meet people and then find out that they knew

Venn Smyth  44:22

your brother. And not that often two hours because we were on different campuses. Then, in terms of that kind of saved stuff we didn’t really cross over.

K Anderson  44:35

But you know, where my questioning is leading don’t? Did you think with the same people?

Venn Smyth  44:42

I think we never figured out that that happened like once okay with someone.

44:48

Yeah.

Venn Smyth  44:50

That’s weird.

K Anderson  44:51

I mean, you have to kind of maybe just accept it and go with it. But I think

Venn Smyth  44:54

we didn’t really have to. I think we probably didn’t really question it too much.

K Anderson  44:58

Yeah, cuz otherwise you Just now.

Venn Smyth  45:02

We I’m sure, yeah. I mean, in terms of that night, well, I didn’t know and like until years later that he had had this all he knew the job was gonna be.

K Anderson  45:16

Okay. I love how you define like it’s rebellious.

Venn Smyth  45:19

Yeah. So you know, if you have to get him on and ask him what his experience was, sounds like it was more exciting. I was doing a job handing out condoms.

K Anderson  45:30

But you snug people on the stage. You mean?

Venn Smyth  45:34

Yeah. So yeah, we never I think we did live together at some point. But then that night closed, so I then went, I studied in America for six months as part of my degree, and then came back and vote with closed. Yeah. So I don’t think we’re ever really in that club together. Probably. Luckily. But then also probably quite strangely.

K Anderson  46:06

We Yeah, cuz that would have been weird. Give our condoms to your brother as well. Yeah. Did you ever go to vibe @ ego? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. If you have any photos, or stories or anecdotes from that time, please do share. You can reach me on social media, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with the username K Anderson music. And if you’d like to find out more about Venn, you can follow him on Instagram at venn Smith. v WNSMY. th la spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there and we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well groomed voice which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe for left a review on Apple podcasts or failing all of that if you just told someone who you think might be interested. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.







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