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Budz Bar in Aberdeen: A look back at 6 years of banging beats and strange shots

Revellers of the early 2000s will remember the incredibly long bar and nights out fuelled by the dangerously cheap shots at Budz Bar on Union Street. Check out our photos from back in the day.

The eye-catching exterior of Budz Bar on Union Street. Image: DC Thomson
The eye-catching exterior of Budz Bar on Union Street. Image: DC Thomson

A dazzling new venue for a new Millennium, Budz Bar was Aberdeen’s coolest and busiest club when it opened in November 2000.

Decades ahead of its time, Budz Bar sported industrial-inspired interiors before they were fashionable.

There was no problem getting served at the 100ft bar in Budz. Image: DC Thomson

And one of the club’s most memorable features was the striking centrepiece – a 110ft-long bar of polished concrete.

We’ve dug out some photos of the iconic Union Street venue, which although only lasted six years, made an indelible impression on today’s 30-somethings.

So grab some schnapps, hit play on our Budz Bar playlist, and relive those hazy, glory days of Aberdeen’s nightlife…

Budz Bar was a far cry from the building’s origin.

A century before it was the trendiest club in Aberdeen, it was the place to go for on-trend interiors.

In 1900, the vast building belonged to Victorian cabinetmaker, upholsterer, carpetmaker and interior decorator firm James Garvie and Sons.

After the First World War, auctioneers RJ Mackenzie took over the premises.

In 1919 they auctioned off unusual lots like furnishings from Aberdeen’s WW1 Scottish General Hospital and the Central School.

An advert from P&J in 1900 for James Garvie & Sons, one of the businesses that previously occupied the Budz Bar premises. in 1900. Image: DC Thomson

And in the ’30s, Roberts the cabinetmakers began operating from the huge premises at 419 Union Street.

Roberts became a name synonymous with interior furnishings in Aberdeen for the next 40 years, before the building became a series of clothes shops.

Now, plans have been lodged to turn the premises into a games bar and bring some nightlife back to Union Street.

Budz Bar was to be ‘grown up’ addition to Aberdeen’s night scene

But a generation of clubbers will better remember the site in its previous incarnation – Budz Bar.

The vast, empty shell was transformed into one of the city’s foremost nightspots after a £1.5 million makeover in 2000.

It opened on November 24 with the aim of being unlike any other venue in Aberdeen.

Forget sticky carpets and dark dancefloors; Budz Bar had sleek cream decor with ambient lighting and oak flooring.

The bar stools near the dancefloor. Image: DC Thomson

Owners Verase Ltd promised to bring a more “grown-up” offering to the city’s club scene.

Clubbing, but classy. Or so they intended.

In a departure from the thud-thud-thud of ’90s dance music, Budz Bar initially only offered soul-inspired sounds.

The good-mood music was to reflect the cool and minimalist interior.

Dramatic entrance and death-defying steps

However, the exterior was an eye-catching and dramatic chrome and glass staircase off Union Street.

You’d think alcohol and flights of death-defying metal steps don’t mix, but keen punters were willing to forgo the risk to be seen at the hot new nightspot.

The distinctive entrance reeled in customers, curious to experience the latest addition to Aberdeen’s nightlife.

Heading downstairs, floor and ceiling lights rotated through a rainbow of colours alongside a seemingly-endless bar.

The steps which lead down from Union Street to Budz Bar. Image: DC Thomson

The huge, concrete, steel-fronted bar provided plenty of space for revellers who wanted to get their hands on their trademark Budweiser.

There was also a huge fridge dedicated to Bud beer, but those with a more sophisticated – or braver – palette could try out some of the vodka on offer.

Unusual tipples included salt and liquorice-flavoured spirit, surely a prime candidate for a game of shot roulette.

Particularly as it only cost 69p a shot in 2007.

Or to really set your night off with a bang, you could have some vodka Red Bull – by the jug.

A recent photo of the Justice Mill Lane entrance to Budz Bar. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Happy memories of dancefloor

And of course, what is a club without banging beats.

Built into the far end of the bar was the console for resident DJs Stuart MacRory, Pete Elliott, and Greigsy, all well-known names in the city.

While there was no formal dance floor, the DJ podium overlooked the open seating area which soon became the main dance area.

And there was certainly plenty of room to whip out dance moves to club classics like Lola’s Theme, as Budz had capacity for 450 people.

Upon opening, the Evening Express said it was for “adults who want to have a sociable evening in very striking surroundings rather than the brasher, louder atmosphere of other places”.

Fridges full of Budweiser were an eye-catching feature at Budz Bar. Image: DC Thomson

Although if our readers’ nostalgic memories of nights out at Budz Bar are anything to go by, it was ultimately no different from other popular venues.

Everyone does seem to agree that reviving the venue would be a welcome decision.

But it’s perhaps best to leave those salty, liquorice shots in 2007.

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