COVENTRY Music Museum Curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
ADI Dowling’s Daylight Robbery Presents: House Is A Feeling Before, during and after the arrival of house music and ecstasy in Coventry.
House is a Feeling is an immersive, multi-media exhibition exploring Coventry and the motor city’s very own ‘Motown Story’ in electronic music.
The exhibition will take place in a secret location from November 11 to 28 and was commissioned by Coventry City of Culture Trust.
The exhibition is funded by Arts Council England and Coventry City of Culture Trust.
Much is talked about Coventry’s 2-Tone credentials – but often our unique status in the world of electronic dance music is neglected.
Some visitors to the Coventry Music Museum wonder why there is no reference to this phenomenon in the museum, I point out that they are probably looking in the wrong place.
It is actually there but juxtaposed with The Sydenham Palace in the pre-pop section which looks at the more ancient music of the city.
I, as a curator, always found it fascinating that the Eclipse night club (the home of electronic dance music) was on the exact site of the Sydenham Palace (built in 1857 in Lower Ford Street).
This was also a place of musical entertainment, with a select class of high-quality acts on Saturday and Monday night bills to please even the most strait-laced Victorians.
The Sydenham crumbled and was eventually replaced with the building which would become home to the Eclipse with Amnesia House and the first legal house music events. It was recently voted Cov’s best ever lost venue.
As the release said: “House is a Feeling is a chronological exploration of a music and cultural revolution in Coventry from 1985 to 1993.
“This multi-sensory exhibition gives insight into a city before, during and after the arrival of house music and of those involved.
“The exhibition explores the impact and legacy of electronic dance music and emerging youth cultures at a time of heightened social injustice, racism and violence, culminating in a musical and social revolution that put Coventry on the map.”
The city was one of the epicentres of a new youth cultural expression in the UK and witnessed the birth of its first legal events orchestrated by Amnesia House and The Eclipse Nightclub, the first sanctioned all-night 24-hour club in the UK.
Presented through a series of corridors and curated themed rooms, the exhibition includes transformational theatre, audio documentaries and artist moving image and laser projections.
With uncensored accounts tracking the journey of Coventry’s place as the pioneer of this global movement and multi-billion pound industry, creating a blueprint that was copied worldwide.
The work includes contemporary visual interpretations of the underground drug culture and captures significant historical moments covering themes of racism and city centre violence, featuring local people telling untold stories of their experience.
Chenine Bhathena, from the City of Culture Trust said: “This exhibition documents one of the last youth and cultural movements of the 20th Century in the UK.
“The city was at the epicentre of electronic dance music and rave culture at this time.
“It was a hedonistic time in history when the younger generation were fully immersed in the moment – no mobile phones or selfies. It was just pure love for the beat.
“There was a sense of freedom and spirit among that generation that won’t be seen again.
“The exhibition will give the public a chance to see Coventry’s musical and social-revolution of the late 1980s and 90s.”