WE are fast approaching the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Arches, the ground-breaking performance venue beneath Central Station created from the ruins of one of Glasgow 1990's less successful projects and sacrificed on the altar of attention-seeking licensing and policing a year ago next month. Young people in Glasgow are still quite angry about that. And not just them. But it was a dynamic and youthful collective who this week took a decisive step towards filling one of the gaps that the demise of the Arches has left, and there was a crucial element of self-interest in their initiative.

The Scratch Nights at the Arches were open evenings where fledgling artists could try out ideas, show works-in-progress to an interested peer group, and generally take the bare bones of a performance off the drawing board and on to the stage to see whether it would work. The evenings set many on the road to fully-realised shows, Edinburgh Fringe runs and international touring for people like Nic Green, Rob Drummond, Keiran Hurley and Gary McNair. Students of theatre at our universities and conservatoire were understandably dismayed to see a crucial pathway to a career casually trashed by ignorant officialdom.

Only Skin's first Scratch night happened on Wednesday at The Poetry Club within the SWG3 venue in Eastvale Street Glasgow – a hidden corner of the West End in the lea of the river, expressway and rail line – and managed to create the intimate club-like atmosphere which those of us old enough to remember Cafe Loco at the Arches recall with tiresomely teary regret. According to one of its prime movers, Cairan McLaggan, the idea began, suitably artistically, as a logo. It is a good one, right enough, and I hope that the two interlinked ovals, scored through (sorry, words don't it justice) will become a familiar signifier of interesting new work in the city. The Only Skin collective – the core group senior Theatre Studies students at the University of Glasgow, and closely allied to the Contemporary Performance Practice course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as well as individuals who are now pursuing their own practice out in the big world – have set the bar high for themselves with their first night, which had a very varied programme of work, all of it – crucially – really rather fun, even when it had a disturbing edge. There was nothing especially radical about Mandy Roberts' participatory extreme hair-dressing, Quiff-tasia, but it was a great ice-breaker, while Craig Manson's self-endangering knife-wielding Prince Charming, and Charlie Rawson's Cleaner for Hire also had many antecedents but were both quite, well, charming, in their execution. The night's star turn was Ross Wylie, whose monologue Mr Mack and Me was a meticulously constructed narrative about a young teacher back at his alma mater after university, but still living at home and really rather too close in age to his new pupils. It suited the company it was keeping this week, but would be equally at home in The Stand comedy club or Oran Mor's A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

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I am sure the night went on, but my evening ended with the performance by The Doing Group, Rain is Liquid Sunshine, which was full of apt visual metaphors about sustainable building, with well-chosen text to match. The GU students' name is a riposte to the passivity of a reading group, of course, so when you've done with my words, take the hint and give them your active support.