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Exclusive: Aberdeen club boss opening ‘strictly over 30s’ venue as older revellers help turn industry around

The owner of Aura nightclub realised there was an untapped market among the older generation of partygoers, with a growing demand for "day disco" events.

Over 30s disco event at Aura Nightclub in Aberdeen.
The first daytime disco for over 30s was a huge success, exceeding all of Aura nightclub’s expectations. Image: Tony Cochrane/Supplied.

Dancefloor-filling daytime discos for older revellers are helping Aberdeen’s struggling nightlife industry turn a corner.

Opening up nightspots in the afternoon to let those over 30 dance the day away is a relatively new concept for the Granite City.

But it has already proved “popular and profitable”, with hundreds of people lining up outside Aura nightclub in their gladrags when it launched last month.

Owner Tony Cochrane introduced the idea to Aberdeen after he realised there is an untapped market of partygoers who might prefer an early night.

Four people holding up a carboard frame that reads 'Disco Days: Days are the new nights!'
Daytime disco: because who says the party has to wait until after dark? Image: Tony Cochrane.

It was a way to give over-30s “their own space to have fun” – and keep his business alive.

Just a few months ago, Mr Cochrane feared he might be forced to close his city centre club due to a dwindling number of late-night customers and crippling bills.

But the impresario, who also runs Club Tropicana and several other venues across Scotland, vowed to fight on.

And now, he has found just the right “extra layer” to help him balance the books.

Aberdeen's Aura nightclub owner Tony Cochrane
Tony Cochrane runs a number of venues – including in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Image: DC Thomson.

How did Day Discos come about?

With two successful events already in the bag, Mr Cochrane says Day Discos have turned out to be a lucrative way to survive in a challenging time for the industry.

Aura nightclub was launched in September after a £400,000 transformation.

However, it has been struggling ever since due to the cost-of-living crisis affecting punters’ pockets and surging power bills.

The latest blow came in January when the local authority dismissed Mr Cochrane’s plea to keep the club open for an additional hour from Sunday to Thursday.

But this only encouraged the nightlife czar to think more creatively, opening the dance floor to a “sometimes neglected” group of customers…

Aura nightclub in Aberdeen
The recently revamped Aura nightclub in Aberdeen is popular with students. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson.

“We realised there was a market for those over 30s,” he explains.

“Some people don’t necessarily want to stay until 3am, and also, we discovered they felt a bit uncomfortable and kind of out of place amongst the masses of 20-year-olds.

“Getting a taxi in the evening is also a nightmare, so we thought we’d try it in daytime.

“And people are loving it, crowds were arriving to the last minute.”

Over 30s Day Disco event at Aberdeen club Aura
Stepping into the groove and leaving our worries behind! Daytime disco for the young at heart. Image: Rebecca Mcgregor.

New Club 30 sparks even more optimism for Aberdeen city centre revival

Mr Cochrane’s new venture has proved so successful, he is now launching a whole club “strictly for over 30s”.

The new venue will be under Club Tropicana and have capacity for about 250 people.

It will be open from 8am to 1am every Saturday, with a wide range of music – from 70s classic to more modern tunes.

Looking ahead to the launch on May 18, Mr Cochrane is hopeful Club 30 would become as popular as the Day Disco events.

Club 30 customers who wish to carry on will be able to continue dancing upstairs in Club Tropicana in Aberdeen. Image: DCT Design Team/Facebook.

And he reckons this could also be a boost for the city centre, with hundreds of revellers now hitting the streets of Aberdeen in broad daylight.

“It’s like a day out for the girls,” Mr Cochrane adds.

“That’s more than 1,000 people coming out on a Saturday afternoon, getting their hair and nails done, and spending in city centre businesses.

“So I’d like to think it’s a positive for all of us.”

Over 30s Day Disco event at Aberdeen club Aura
The first afternoon disco for over-30s in March was hailed a huge success. Image: Rebecca Mcgregor.

Could day discos be the future for struggling nightclubs?

Mr Cochrane has previously spoken of the challenges faced by the industry, the main one being the council’s decision to allow bars to operate until 2am.

The student market, which has been the main audience for Aura nightclub until recently, also tends to go quiet “out of season”.

Tony Cochrane in Aberdeen’s Belmont Street.

So could Day Discos for over-30s be the way forward for the nightlife industry?

Mr Cochrane takes a few seconds to ponder, and says: “I don’t know if this is the future of nightclubs, because there is still a huge market among students.

“But maybe this one [for over 30s] has been neglected for quite a while – and we’ve now realised there is an opportunity there.

“We tested the water and it’s proved successful, so we are now doing this in our clubs in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow too.

“I think it has just given people in this age group their own space – they are still allowed to go out and enjoy the evening. It’s not something that needs to stop at a certain age.”

Over 30s Day Disco event at Aberdeen club Aura
Many take the Day Disco event in Aberdeen as an opportunity to sing their hearts out. Image: Rebecca Mcgregor.

So what is the key to success?

And despite the hurdles that Mr Cochrane has had to overcome in recent months, he remains positive for the future of Aberdeen’s nightlife industry.

The most important lesson is to “be flexible and find other ways to make it work”.

He says: “We’ve been operating music venues for years now, and what we’ve learned is that you need to change with the times.

“You’ve got to think out of the box and adapt – make sure you’re ahead of the trend and don’t get stuck in your ways.”

Tony Cochrane, who is planning an over 30s club in aberdeen
Tony Cochrane is determined to keep going whatever it takes.

The nightclub owner adds: “We needed something to help us make ends meet, and that has definitely done its part.

“But it’s not just about the money.

“People are having so much fun, and it’s enjoyable to see how happy this makes them.

“And as long as people are wanting to come, we’ll keep doing it.”

The next Day Disco will be on Saturday, April 27.

In our recent series, we reveal what it takes to survive and thrive on Union Street as traders work to make the city centre a vibrant place for visitors.