What’s your favourite club outfit? Do you go tight or baggy, smart or casual? A fancy cap or a new, mad haircut? Photographer Anna-Rose McChesney was curious, so she set about shooting 172 twenty-somethings standing at their own front doors, wearing their favourite out-out looks.
The project kicked off in 2021, when Chesney was set the simple task of shooting three portraits by her tutors at Glasgow School of Art, where she studies Communication Design. The brief: to shoot one inside, one outside and one self-portrait. But rules are boring, aren’t they?
“I went off on a bit of a tangent and started to photograph a few friends dressing up,” she says. Back then, the UK was in its third pandemic-induced lockdown and there was nowhere to go out. “I started to share the work, then more people saw it and started asking me to take their portrait. From that, I started to shoot friends of friends to complete strangers – sort of like a community mourning for nightlife, really.”
McChesney had enough content to make herself a proper book titled, aptly, What’s Your Favourite Outfit to Dance In? In it, Glasgow’s student nightcrawlers show off their finest looks for the dance floor. There’s boys in casual outfits, drag queens, Moonboots, New Romantic haircuts, Depop finds, corsets, a cat inside a see-through backpack. Not your everyday get-ups, but that’s the point.
“Glasgow is quite an arty city. It attracts people who are interested in music, art and literature,” the photographer says. “I think people were really desperate to dress up and have an opportunity to show what they were wearing. It was definitely a big mishmash of different styles.”
McChesney talks loudly and proudly about Glasgow, the place she’s called home for three years, after she left her home city London. “It’s very friendly, a lot of people know each other,” she says. “If people have a night, everyone goes and supports. And everyone has a shared appreciation for the music and art that can be found, and they enjoy meeting like-minded people who share interests.”
And, as the book’s club clobber would suggest, there’s no shortage of decent nights out in the city. You’ll find McChesney-plus-mates at queer club night Shoot Your Shot at The Poetry Club, or Glasgow School of Art’s student-run radio station Hill 52’s night at The Berkeley Suite. Then there’s the DJ duo Optimo (Espacio), who “put on a lot of nights around the city,” and her DJ pal JayJay, who set up a collective called Blank Space that contributes to Glasgow’s big weekenders.
“There’s a new club night called Ponyboy, set up by someone called Dill [Dowdall and Reece Marshall],” she adds. “It’s a queer night and people really go for it – latex, big hair, all of that.”
Reckon we’ll be off to Glasgow, then.