Jackie O's - the Kirkcaldy club that became a legend

She was the First Lady of Kirkcaldy who became a legend of the Scottish nightclub scene throughout the 1980s.

Jackie O invite from management
Jackie O invite from management

Kirkcaldy may not have had a nightlife to compare with big cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow but it had Jackie O’s - a club with a huge reputation, and an even bigger following.

Stories of clubbers being bussed in from across Scotland - even as far south as Newcastle and Nottingham - are part of its folklore. They also happen to be true.

On a business trip to the House of Commons a few years ago, I found myself at the Treasury waiting on Gordon Brown, then Chancellor.

Chart toppers Mud made an appearance at Jackie 'O' in Kirkcaldy in 1991

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Making small talk about Kirkcaldy, one of the team immediately launched into anecdotes about great night at Jackie O’s.

The club launched in 1980 and tapped into the scene which exploded across the UK on the back of John Travolta’s smash hit movie Saturday Night Fever, and its owners - the Maciocia family - never let their provincial setting limit their ambitions.

Steeped in the entertainment industry, they spent big, ensuring every refit brought the best sound and light systems available, and they also dug deep to bring the biggest names to town every single weekend.

Radio One’s star DJs - Kid Jensen, DLT, Simon Bates and Garry ‘Woo’ Davies were among the VIPs, while chart stars such as Mud, Sister Sledge, and Odyssey all did personal appearances.

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Then came the era of soap stars and the red carpet was rolled out for the biggest names from Brookside to Eastenders to Neighbours.

Even Kylie and Jason stepped inside the club’s legendary doors on a PA, while legendary hip-hop figure Afrika Bambaataa once came to do a set.

But the weekends weren’t the only big draws.

Wednesday nights saw Jackie O’s buzz with noise, so much so that the top reps from Granada were dispatched north to find out how a small club in a small town could generate numbers that were simply unheard of in any other of their outlets.

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The answer was simple. Grab a Granny night.

Factor in theme nights and promos - everything from fancy dress to ‘wear as little as you dare’ - and the compact dance floor was rarely empty.

It was also a haunt for many local sportsmen whose star status assured them of much attention within seconds of stepping inside.

What made it unique?

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The people, the music and the atmosphere. It was the place where glad rags and handbags collided on the dance floor, and Monday at work was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

Jackie O’s had one other famous asset - it’s time tunnel.

The mirrored walkway took you from the dance floor to the more chilled out back bar, but you needed to turn 90 degrees once in it, and again to exit.

More than one clubber forgot as the beers took hold, and walked straight into the mirror at the other end.

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The club marked its 18th anniversary in 1998 and soldiered on into the Noughties, but name changes followed and, more importantly, so did changing times.

Bars started to open much later, and the clubbing scene began to fragment as new venues opened up - all grabbing a slice of a very lucrative market.

Jackie O’s became the Candlerooms, then Harlem and then McSquinty’s before finally closing for good in 2010.

Two years later the bulldozers moved in and razed what, from the outside, was a non-descript building, but which was a huge part of people’s lives for so many years.

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Today the site is home to waterfront flats.

There isn’t even a plaque on the wall to mark where the First Lady once got the party started.