There are few security staff in Glasgow who could inspire the outpour of recognition Bob Wong received when he announced he would be leaving The Art School. Having served the iconic venue for some 12 years (with an additional 4 years at the Sub Club), his status as a walking institution is completely justified, being one of the most dependable, professional and friendly faces Glasgow’s night-time industry has to offer. Keeping a watchful eye over the hundreds of punters, promoters and DJs who pass through The Art School each week, he’s regarded as much more than a doorman, going far beyond the call of duty on numerous occasions.
This Friday (20th), The Art School host a public leaving party for Bob, inviting some of the most prominent DJs and club factions from his time at The Arty to represent. These include Mungo’s Hi Fi, world-renowned soundsystem collective who have been promoting parties at The Art School for over ten years; Ben Martin and DJ Hush, who presided at the club every Thursday for Mixed Bizness and RPZ respectively, as well as Fortified Audio – bastion of bass since 2007, hosting key parties with Martyn, Kode9 and Skream to name just a few.
To fully appreciate the significance of Bob’s departure and his almost legendary status amongst Glasgow’s clubbing community, we spoke to some of the people who have worked with him closely over the past 16 years:
“In this industry, entering a club sometimes feels like passing through airport customs, but Bob always made you feel welcome as if you had arrived at his home - always with a smile. The effort to remember your name and face is a rare commodity in his profession, and he’s one of the only stewards to ever open the door for you - a true gentleman.
He always had my back and I always had his…there was the time he saved me from getting a kick-in from four big dudes, and the time I retrieved his umbrella from some sour punter he'd knocked back.
A lot has happened over the years at The Art School, but it's at a different venue that I most remember getting to know Bob; it's also probably the first time he saw me sober. We worked for recruitment agencies that would send us down to Ayr for brutal 12hr shifts at the racecourse. I think it may have been the first and last time Bob worked there, but it was where I got to know him most. Things would get pretty crazy towards the end of the shift, with punters plied full of drink from pre-paid bars. One night Bob and myself had to carry a completely pished ex-Scotland goalkeeper, Andy Gorum, down two flights of stairs and I kinda dropped him...I shared my tips with Bob that day!”
Alan Miller aka DJ Hush, founder and resident of RPZ
“Bob's generous soul, his diplomatic patience and boundless goodwill are as much a vital component in the complicated fabric of the Glasgow club scene as any DJ, club or venue.
It’s been a real joy to have been working in the same glorious night time ecology as this amazing guy for many, many years. We have had a LOT of good times, right??!!! For me it has been a personal honour. I’m absolutely convinced that more people will remember Bob Wong 'the Doorman' (and probably a lot more fondly!) than us flash-in-the-pan club promoters and arsey DJs in the years to come. And that, to my mind, seems exactly as it should be.
It’s gonna be a great shame to be working in this city without the genuine pleasure of shaking the firm hand of Bob on a night out - whether I’m DJing or, on the fewer occasions these days, actually clubbing. It just won’t seem the same, as meeting Bob is as distinguishing as seeing the door of the Sub Club or walking up the hill to the Art School. But, after l2 years at the Art School he has finally managed to get out - I’m still here!
As for specific memories? God, where does a guy start? Infinite times I’ve asked to queue-skip mates from the throngs waiting outside the Art School on a Thursday; the many arguments Bob settled about coats and hangers with less experienced security; the warmth he demonstrated at the 20th anniversary of Divine in letting the party roll on till 3.20am because people would just not stop dancing and there was SO MUCH love and positive energy in the air; the time he came in to tell me that he was worried about one of my best friends crying outside and thought I should go out and look after him, or, indeed, the time some CRAZY girl went to make a furious complaint about the fact that I was a homo and she was not at all happy about it as she had been trying to chat me up. HA!"
Doug Paine, co-founder and resident of Mungo’s Hi Fi
“For us, it is down to his empathy for people and his patience in dealing with them. That empathy even extended to staff sometimes, helping us to pack up our kit at the end of a long night; although admittedly there was some self-interest for him in wanting to get home!”
Ben Martin, founder and resident of Mixed Bizness
“He's firm but fair, friendly but professional and takes his time to get to know the regulars. He knows that if people are happy and feel welcome then they'll behave in the right way, and that's a special touch for any doorman. He always felt part of the team and I knew our nights were in safe hands whenever the doors opened. That's how it should be.”
“Bob always greets you with a big smile on his face; in fact I don't even think I have ever seen him angry, even when we have had some clubbers do straight-up annoying things like let off fire extinguishers in the middle of the dancefloor because they got carried away.
Bob also had a real sixth sense when it came to knowing when you wanted rid of some random person wanting to chat at the end of the night. He always knew when to step in and save you from an hour of 'worst chat'. I could do with having a Bob everywhere I go, and I’ll miss seeing him on the door of the Art School.”
Laurie Pitt, percussionist in Golden Teacher
"Bob is rightly held in much regard for his unique ability to converse with anyone on a personable level, whilst getting the job done. In the 9 years I have been going to The Art School I have never once seen him lose his cool. He also never overly exhorts his authority and is calm and fair in all situations. Another unique talent is his ability to remember almost every student by name, and he’s friendly and welcoming to all of them. Bob is a legend and will be missed."
Bob Wong's farewell party takes place this Friday (20th) at The Art School. Appearing in his honour will be Mungo's Hi Fi, Fortified Audio, Ben Martin, Sycophantasy, Laurie Pitt and DJ Hush. This is a public event, entry is £3(GSA)/£5 OTD, with all proceeds going to Bob's charity of choice: Shelter Scotland.