Popularly referred to as the 'Barras', there are those that consider this venue to be the best place in the universe for Scotsmen. It seems that all of music's legends have played here. When your favourite band is in town, be they Eminem, Massive Attack or Sepultura, they will only play here if they have real courage. This proved a point to many when the young upstart Craig David played the ballroom in 2000.
The Barras is unbelievably awesome. One normally warms up in some Celtic pub on the Glasgow Gallowgate (if one happens to be a Celtic supporter - Rangers fans, one imagines, would warm up somewhere else). If one is lacking in wealth, a popular alternative is one pint of lager topped off with copious amounts of cheap, off-licence cider. The latter being drunk while waiting in the queue. Atmosphere and tension will build as the queue refuses to shift and then the doors open. Drunken hordes squeeze in like treacle through a pinhole. Each person's impatience fuelled by their own intake of alcohol and vice versa. This then leads to various people reacting in different ways. Many will push to get in; this won't help much, but you will have to get used to pushing in the Barrowlands. This is a pubescent throng at its most productive and deadly.
On entering the Ballroom, you hand in your jacket at the cloakroom and any valuables you have. You must always remind yourself of the wanton destruction that looms around the corner. One person in particular that this Researcher knows lost two watches and had his spectacles broken in the moshpit, all before the age of 21. Once inside, one moves upstairs, perhaps purchasing some pop memorabilia (overpriced t-shirts and posters and badges, etc) and then into the main ballroom.
Alcohol is priority number one for those who arrive early. The Barras bar dispenses a cocktail sold in pints and known only as Diesel. It tastes like strawberries and goes down like water; its contents are unknown, but it will do you fine. You take to the floor, secure a good position and then commence your revelry for the night. Warm up DJs will be playing and Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' is a perennial that will probably be heard. Again, impatience will play a factor as the crowd resorts to various chants, largely of the lewd variety, to encourage the band to take to the stage. Perhaps there will be support, perhaps not. Once the headline band takes to the stage you will get down to business.
And so the hard moshing commences. Moshing is when dancers go a little bit mad - crashing into each other, arms flailing - in the middle of the dance floor. It can occasionally get a wee bit aggressive and you'll end up moshing so hard your ears will pound out for sympathy. But no, the body must mosh. One jumps up and down and back up again, shouting along inanely. This is just as real as it gets... man, every bone, every sinew demands and if it gets a bit much you may make your way to get a glass of water. You may meet a thespian, perhaps a celebrity, maybe even a member of the opposite sex, but you will not hear a word they say. Then you nod and head back to the throng. One should proceed to throw oneself back into the work at hand; shouting obscenities and lyrics whilst bouncing around like a madman.
You will love it! The band will leave, then come back for an encore. A huge mass of people enjoy themselves and it's all over. On leaving you'll wait for the group you arrived with, each of whom will inevitably be lost. Waiting is the most dangerous part of the Barras experience and standing on Glasgow's Gallowgate you're bound to see people getting into trouble. The pursuit of pleasure will have passed and one will feel fulfilled, for now.