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The glory days of Jumpin’ Jaks and Chicago Rock in Aberdeen

Jumpin' Jaks and Chicago Rock opened in 2003 after the Capitol's days were numbered as a live venue.
Jumpin' Jaks and Chicago Rock opened in 2003 after the Capitol's days were numbered as a live venue.

Divas and rock stars were replaced by bar-dancing staff and cheesy music when Jumpin’ Jaks nightclub in Aberdeen opened in 2003.

The vibe of the club and its décor was completely different to the rest of the nightlife scene in Aberdeen at the time.

Jumpin’ Jaks was one of the most iconic nightspots in Aberdeen for a time.

And people loved it.

Jumpin’ Jaks and the Chicago Rock café arrived in the city following the £3.6 million redevelopment of the landmark Capitol in Union Street.

Jumpin’ Jaks brought some of the best music and cheesy acts to perform at the Union Street venue.

The Capitol was designed by Marshal Mackenzie and opened in 1933 before closing for regular film showings in the 1960s.

It became better known for hosting concerts and all the top stars of various decades played to sell-out audiences in the art deco auditorium.

You could always rely on great service on a night out at Jumpin’ Jaks in Aberdeen.

Those who played there included Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Duran Duran, Queen and Iron Maiden.

However, when top stars increasingly started playing bigger venues, the Capitol’s days were numbered and the curtain came down for the last time in December 1997.

Jumpin’ Jaks held its Big Office Party (BOP) session from 4pm every Friday with an inflatable boxing ring with novelty size gloves in order for staff to bring their boss down to size.

The Oscars bar remained open and the original art deco features remained unscathed until the venue was converted into the 1,800-capacity pub and club complex.

Objectors claimed the £3.6 million conversion would bring thousands of drunken clubbers to their doorsteps and said noise from the venues would deny them sleep.

Staff dancing on the bar was always a highlight in Chicago Rock and Jumpin’ Jaks during its 00s heyday.

Veteran Labour city councillor David Clyne blasted the spread of super-pubs, claiming Union Street had been reduced to a strip of “bars, beggars and bookies”.

Ali G – or rather a very convincing imitator – was there for the opening ceremony in March 2003 although it fell to city councillor George Adam to lead the way.

Nicola Calder and Elizabeth Gray look on as Colin Bradford performs one of his dance routines to YMCA on the bar

Revellers were greeted by fake paparazzi and staff sang and danced.

Aberdeen’s newest nightspot was part of a £6 million investment in the city by Luminar Leisure, which also lifted the wraps on Liquid in Bridge Place.

Councillor George Adam pictured with ‘Ali G’ at the opening of Jumpin’ Jaks back in 2003.

Jumpin’ Jaks opened its doors selling itself as ‘the best party in town’ with cheap drinks and free admission before 11pm or 10.30pm on Friday and Saturday.

Comedians, tribute bands, local cabaret acts, karaoke and “duelling pianos” would make up the entertainment to attract a cross section of clubbers.

Fake paparazzi were on hand to welcome the revellers to the opening night.

The club, which opened from Wednesday to Sunday, was split into two rooms, Liquid and Envy, each with a different musical style played by a host of DJs.

Jumpin’ Jaks organised a series of acts to appear on student nights with “fun and games thrown in to make Wednesday a reason to have it large and cheesy”.

Cameron Stout on stage at Jumpin’ Jaks after making a personal appearance following his win on TV show Big Brother.

The first live act to appear on a Wednesday was The Wurzels who were best known for hits including The Combine Harvester and I Am A Cider Drinker.

Former teen heart-throb Chesney Hawkes also performed on stage and wacky kids TV legend Timmy Mallet proved hugely popular when he arrived in Aberdeen.

Jumpin’ Jaks was originally open from Wednesday to Sunday.

Cheesy enough so far?

Hang on though.

Chicago Rock and Jumpin’ Jaks were hugely popular when they opened before the decline set in.

Remember the iconic kids TV show Rainbow?

Rainbow ran for 27 series and 1,071 episodes from 1972-1992 before the early 2000s saw a revival among the student disco circuit.

Bungle, Zippy, George and Geoffrey were among the stars who appeared at Jumpin’ Jaks.

The Rainbow Disco Roadshow arrived at Jumpin’ Jaks in April 2003 with Bungle, Geoffrey, George and Zippy who joined revellers on the dancefloor.

Zippy got the crowd going in his role as ‘Superstar DJ’.

A usually busy scene outside Jumpin’ Jaks on a Saturday night back in 2005.

Pat Sharp and the twins from Fun House also appeared on stage but all good things come to an end and sadly the doors closed after six years in 2009.

Times change and the punters wanted something different.

Broomhill line dancing group putting their best foot forward during a party night at Chicago Rock in 2003.

The old venue sat empty, derelict and damaged by water ingress after falling into a state of disrepair until developers moved in during 2013.

The Capitol has since been restored to its former art deco glory.

A poster for non-stop partying as long as it was from Wednesday to Sunday.

The seven-storey office development has kept its original features like the iconic stylised doors of the old theatre, light fittings and motifs which were restored.

The memories also remain of some of the best nights out of the noughties.