George Square's Triple-tented Nostalgia Trip

Submitted by edg on Tue, 26 Jul '11 11.31pm

With the sun still with us it seemed like an opportune time to investigate the recently erected tented village at George Square.

Next month George Square Gardens and adjoining buildings become the hub for Assembly, which having been forced to give up its traditional Fringe home on George Street due to renovations, is setting up shop in the south of the city centre.

Although the Assembly logo is emblazoned around the university square, right now the Edinburgh Jazz Festival is hosting gigs here until the end of the month. On a day like today it seemed like a fine place to pore over festival programmes.

A beer garden with classic theatre tents all around, the set-up of George Square Garden is reminiscent of the Pleasance Courtyard, or the book festival's Charlotte Square Gardens.

Apart from the astroturfed matting that squelches underfoot (obviously necessary given Edinburgh's sometimes wet summers) the three old-time, theatre tents – the Bosco, the Dans Paleis, and the Teatro Spiegeltent - blend nicely with George Square's natural leafy setting. I was half expecting an acoustic swing band to be playing in a corner of the garden, to help complete the nostalgic fantasy as we supped on our pints in the sun.

No such thing, but we did get a blast of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a funky 9-piece band from Chicago, 8 of them brothers, who drifted in for a sound check around 5pm. Sounded quite good.

On this particular sunny afternoon the beer garden still felt undiscovered as a watering hole, but seemed to quickly fill up as people arrived for the evening gigs. Saturday night was apparently heaving (the Garden is open noon til 1am daily and until 2am on Friday and Saturday).

Talking of nostalgia trips: Assembly will have a tiny absinthe bar in a horse box at the entrance to the Gardens. I've been reliably informed that it will be serving a heady cocktail of hard liquor, burlesque, and surrealism.

The main bar offers a more mundane choice of beer on draught (Deuchars IPA, Fosters lager, Heineken Lager, Bulmers cider, Murphy's) and variety of bottled beers. Pints were £3.50. Disappointing, but not surprising, drinks (including wine) are served in plastic.

I'm sure I'll be back, so more on this later.