History of Pandemonium
Starting up in 1989, Pandemonium was created by Paul Archer, Paul Dawkes and Marc Chamberlain. Ravers for ravers and Pandemonium quickly became one of the greatest icons of the Great British underground rave and dance party scene. It was during these early years and up to the Mid Nineties when Pandemonium started booking the New Breed of DJ`s emerging from around the Country to showcase their talents. Jocks like the now world-famous DJ`s Sasha and Carl Cox, Marshall Jefferson, Micky Finn, Fabio & Grooverider, Hype, Randall, LTJ Bukem, Danny rampling, Jeremy Healy, and Live PA`s from Alern8, Bizarre Inc, Dream Frequency, KKlass, it wasn’t long before Pandemonium became an epi-centre for the new sound of House music/hardcore, Jungle/Techno/DnB.
Staging the odd smaller illegal events in those very early days, Pandemonium then held the infamous rave at Lions Street Cultural Centre, Oakengates, Telford in 1990, which was in fact an old Church and later became 42’s nightclub. This event also found to be Pandemonium’s first brush with the authorities over staging events. Pandemonium, already knee-deep in the scene right across the Country, had now built up such a very loyal crowd that they had caused serious traffic jams around the venue for this event. It was a road block. Cars from all over the Country had arrived at the venue and the small town of Oakengates had become gridlocked. The ring round running past the venue was impassable, which caused chaos for the emergency services who had been called out.
Obviously, the Police were called and arrived in full riot gear, riot vans, dogs and who were not too pleased to say the least. The venue was packed to the rafters, hundreds more were outside, cars parked on every spare piece of ground, and the venue was barricaded by the lads to stop the surges of punters trying to force their way in – and of course to stop the Police entering. The enormity of the problems and with a couple of arrests outside for public order offences and smoking weed, it was inevitable someone was going to swing. Subsequently, Paul Dawkes, who had dealt with the “Punks” who ran the Venue and booked the date, found himself up in court for staging illegal music events and was fined and ordered by the court he could not put on any more events for 12 months. He was banned.
Go Pro For More HighlightsGo Pro For More HighlightsSuffering this blow and setback, Marc Chamberlain was already ably armed with his knowledge and experience of the music industry as an event promoter, staging numerous Northern soul, SKA, Mod, Scooter-boy events previously in Telford alone and Marc had a good relationship with the council, he knew the Licensing Officer, the Police, the Fire services etc, and he was dedicated to the dance/rave scene, and for him, it was so very close to the Northern soul scene in so many ways (which had already been through very similar outcries, all-night parties were frowned upon, drugs were a problem too), and by fronting Pandemonium, they were able to gain access to a few more venues, and the legal events started in style.
Booking the “Council owned” Madeley Court sports centre in Telford became the humble beginnings of Pandemonium’s so-called legal events in January 1991. However, literally on the morning of the event, the Manager of Madeley Court called Marc into an emergency meeting. Apparently, the Venue had not obtained the right and correct entertainment licence. The Council and the Venue Management took advice and they were guided to speak to the “Private Pay Party Unit”. This Unit was based in Atherstone, and was created purely to cover events of this nature, nothing more and nothing less. The Private Pay Party Unit told the venue to continue with the event and allow it to proceed – thankfully. They stated “if you cancel it now, then you are going to have chaos on your hands”. Marc was good friends with the Centre Manager, they played football together, and together they shook hands and the gig was on. Drawing around 700 people from all over the Midlands and further afield to this event was an immense achievement, and everyone understood that this was just the start to bigger, and brighter things.
Immediately Marc went to see the Manager at Stirchley Recreation Centre and a slightly bigger venue. The Manager here was the old Manager from the Oakengates Town Hall in Telford where Marc had previously staged many Northern Soul, SKA and Scooter shows and events over the years. It was agreed, Pandemonium could stage a series of three events inside the large Stirchley Sports Hall, starting in May 1991.
Pandemonium presented “Tomorrow” at the venue on the 11th May 1991 pulling a huge rave crowd of 800, then an unbelievable 1400 on the next event called “BANG” on the 25th May 91, where DJ Sasha made his debut for Pandemonium, and the third event Pandemonium + on 20th July, attracting a massive 1800 ravers! Pandemonium were smashing it out the park and rapidly became a firm favourite with Ravers attending from all over the country and establishing Pandemonium as one of the UK`s leading pioneers of the rave/dance/house music scene. The sheer scale of numbers Pandemonium were pulling for their events were massive and growing, and the boys knew they needed a move. As well as the successes of the previous events, Pandemonium were able to hold discussions with the Council and the Telford Ice Rink was secured. It was on…This venue was huge…Pandemonium presents “Andromeda” on August 31st, Bank Holiday weekend. 1991 at the Telford Ice Rink.
This was a massive step up for the boys, the Ice rink was a huge 4000 plus capacity venue, but as we now know, this pioneering event put Pandemonium into Rave history as the tickets sold out in double quick time.
On the night, the venue was heaving, packed out with 4500 Pandemonium hardcore ravers. Pandemonium had lit the fuse and literally set the scene alight with a massive DJ line up of non-other than Carl Cox (who had asked to play Pandemonium after hearing all the fantastic reports and quote: “I just got to play Pandemonium, get me the gig Maxine” (Carl’s girlfriend and agent), Grooverider, Fabio, Micky Finn, Keith Suckling, Easygroove, Nipper, Doc Scott, DJ SS, with MC Manparris, Lenni and Master P, and the enormous live PA By Altern8.
And for your enjoyment, here is the full video filmed by Pandemonium. ENJOY. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NmKyAW5xgs .
The massive success of the Andromeda event was heard right across the country, and the Pandemonium faithful ravers were screaming for more. Pandemonium, never wishing to disappoint, immediately made their move and lit the fuses with Andromeda2, again at the Telford Ice Rink on November 22nd 1991. And here is the video of this massive famous event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8GdOj2Z63A
The reputation of Pandemonium was now nationwide, and tickets were literally sold out in days. The calls and screams for tickets were obviously heard and were now causing a real stir for all the authorities, as news reports hit the headlines and the National BBC NEWS & ITN that 6000 forged tickets had been sold on the streets around the country. Pandemonium completely sold out of 4000 tickets in eleven days, that was 3 and a half weeks before the date of the event, and another 6000 forgeries were out there and forged tickets were exchanging for around 100 quid a piece. Things were now getting out of control and of course, the police had to be informed and the Police the set into action an immediate investigation. Pandemonium also decided to investigate the situation and was able to find out through the grape vine that tickets were being sold on the streets of Birmingham. Arrangements were made to meet the ticket sellers at New Street Station and with a team of spotters, Pandemonium approached the ticker sellers but they immediately smelled something was wrong and bolted through the crowds of shoppers, where a chase pursued, but the sellers were lost.
A few days later, the Police informed Pandemonium that some arrests had been made, however, still 6000 forged tickets had been sold and right across the country. (The arrests ended with the case going to Shrewsbury Crown Court for 240,000 pounds worth of forged tickets. Marc and Paul Dawkes were the main witnesses for the police, who did not show at Court and the Case thrown out. However, warrants were issued for their arrest by the Judge who was furious, and subsequently, both Marc and Dawkes went missing for a week and then gave themselves up and were sent down for 24 hours by the judge. On the way down to the cells, one prison warden said “shit, it comes to something when they are sending the witnesses down” Anyway, both released the following day and all was good).
On the day of the event, the Police had arrived and set up a full operation with dozens of Police officers. Portacabins had been brought in and lifted off by cranes, inside were much like a laboratory, Police officers sitting in front of numerous screens, CCTV was specially set up around the venue and the Police could monitor the whole area surrounding the venue from inside the Labs. The Police then delayed the opening of the doors to the event, which caused a huge queue, at 10.45pm they had around 2500 people inside the building, with an estimated 8000 still outside. The police came into the offices of the venue where Pandemonium had set up, and with plastic bin liners they literally swept everything up and took everything out of the office, ripped up the guest list and attempted to take over the venue. Paul archer, one of the Pandemonium Promoters was arrested and taken to the local Malinsgate Police station. There, he was held under suspicion of being involved with the forged tickets. Paul was released and rightly so, without charge but he could not attend the event. Pandemonium were livid and arguments ensued between the Police, the council, the venue. Eventually, calm was restored and it was agreed, Pandemonium were allowed to continue running the event.
By this time, thousands more ravers were arriving, estimates from the Police stated there were approximately 12,500 who had turned up for the event, and outside the venue, tickets were exchanging hands for 100 quid a time and not even knowing if the ticket was real or not. Some ravers were mugged for their tickets, some ravers fought back and got their tickets back, some were not so lucky. On the door, it was extremely difficult to distinguish between the real and forged tickets, but to be fair, the venue Management and security, together with Pandemonium, the safety of everyone in the building was always paramount in our minds.
Packing in a monstrous 6500 eventually into the rave and with almost the same numbers outside, and with hundreds trying all sorts of ways to get into the building, climbing all over the venue, trying to break in through fire doors, PANDEMONIUM ANDROMEDA 2 had yet again set the scene alight and the event had now gone down as one of the ultimate turning points for dance music and licensing history, and changed a whole generation of music lovers. In fact, Pandemonium and this event in particular (Andromeda 2) , together with the massive 40,000 illegal Castle Morton rave in Worcestershire in 1992, were stated by the Government later in a 1994 white paper bill, in a weird and bizarrely vindictive legislation, Section 63 of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, is up there with any other needlessly discriminatory British law. Giving police the power to shut down events featuring music that’s “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”, the clause was aimed unequivocally at one particular glass-eyed, cheek-chewing threat to the nation’s youth: the UK’s illegal rave scene.
Marc chamberlain had been called by the government and the “Private Pay Party Unit” to attend a preliminary hearing in London early June of 1992, where Marc literally laughed out loud at the bill. Marc had argued that “you can’t ban repetitive music, you would be literally banning Abba and all music lol” and that this bordered insanity at its extreme and Britain would be entering into a Police fascist state, which, didn’t go down too well with the Panel we can tell you. 😉
Pandemonium Andromeda 2, with this much bad publicity was bound to be stamped on and although the publicity Pandemonium felt was uncomfortable and wrong, the media circus was massive and naturally, this was when millions more across the world were really taking notice of Pandemonium & the Andromeda events. quote: “All publicity is good publicity”
After Andromeda 2 in November 1991, Pandemonium were unofficially told by the police not to contact the Private Pay Party Unit for at least 6 months and told “don’t stage any more events during this period” almost banning them from promoting events.
Pandemonium were already deeply involved with nights in Shimmers (Cascades) and planning the opening up of their new Cub night at JJ’s Nightclub, Willenhall, Wolverhampton. This is where every Friday night and JJ’s was born and is still regarded as one of the Countries best underground rave clubs. An immense achievement and Pandemonium are so very proud of this club.
Pandemonium then immediately set plans for their eagerly awaited return into full scale All-nighters by planning Andromeda3 @ Donnington Park Race Track in Leicestershire for June 1992 and a 7500 capacity and of course, to coincide with their 6months layoff.
Pandemonium decided to contact the pay party anyway and informed them of the plans. It was only due respect, and to be fair, they needed to know what was coming. Working with the Inspector at the Pay Party unit, and of course keeping their noses clean running JJ’s club, Andromeda3 “The Trilogy” was officially licensed with a capacity raised successfully and sold out with 7500 ravers on June 13th 1992. The event was huge with an unparalleled production at the time and the dance scene was now ablaze with Pandemonium, set alight like they only knew how, SMASHING the event with a full production second to none and keeping the raw feel of the illegal warehouse raves. Yet another rave event which has gone down in the history of the dance scene.
Whilst planning and staging the huge Andromeda 3 dance party, Pandemonium had been planning for almost a year a show called “Here comes the Sun” at Forton airfield, just outside Shrewsbury. The licence for 7500 had been applied for well in advance and albeit there was massive opposition to this event (to say the least) with protesters picketing outside the licence hearings, the licence was eventually granted.
With a week to go over 5000 tickets had been sold and the 7500 capacity was expected to easily be reached. Pandemonium arrived at the airfield to start setting up the event on the Monday before the event that coming Friday. All the Circus tents had arrived and were now being erected, together with the funfair, additional marquees, everything was running smoothly. However, going back to the discussions at the license hearing when the license was granted, the Council had requested a 12ft outer ring fence be put up around the event, then a moated “non man zone” and then an internal 6ft fence. This condition was fought rigorously by Pandemonium at the hearing for at least 2 hours just on this one condition, and eventually, the board agreed with Marc to use the standard 2 x 6ft fences with a moat in between. Deal done. Licence granted.
But when returning from holiday, Pandemonium had received the minutes from the meeting and when reading the minutes and the licence conditions, the boys quickly realised to find the council had written into the conditions that the 12ft outer fence had been agreed. Marc drove up to the licensing authority in Shrewsbury for an emergency meeting, and when he approached them on this condition, the Council and the Licensing Officer stated that they hadn’t agreed to the 2 x 6ft fences and they simply grinned and said “you agreed for an external 12 foot perimeter fence and an internal 6ft fence & anyway, it is too late now as it’s in writing”. It was planned, corruption and collusion and it was a scam.
When Pandemonium told the council they would put the 12ft fence up, the Council “spun around” and said “You can’t, no one does 12ft fencing”. Pandemonium realised immediately the council must have checked, so this was just a way to stop the event. Yet Pandemonium then found an engineer who submitted drawings and plans showing how we would set the fence up. A very shrewd move, but incensed the Licensing Officer and the Council, they were red with rage. And Pandemonium knew.
As the site was being set up, without warning or notice at approx 5.20pm on the Wednesday evening two days prior to the event, The licensing officer arrived on site and measured the inner 6ft fence (as the 12ft one had not been erected yet) & without even asking or consulting the organisers she sped off the site in her car, not even speaking to anyone at all. Within minutes, one of the Funfair owners was listening to the local Shropshire Radio news at 5.30pm which was making an emergency announcement stating the planned event had been issued an injunction and had been served on the Promoters and event had been cancelled. Nothing had been served. This was a scam at the highest order and by the time Marc was in his car it was 5.40pm and racing towards the council offices, it was obviously too late to do anything. The event was costing tens of thousands, and even if they had put the fence up, the plug had been pulled and the media had told everyone across the country it was off. This was devastating and crushing news and thousands of ravers were in mourning, knowing and understanding only too well what the Authorities were up to, especially the Police.
The Police had been holding secret meetings with the Local villagers in the community hall and had been using vicious scare tactics for a few weeks by now, telling the villagers that tens of thousands of drug crazed ravers were going to descend on their communities and resulted in the Farmer who owned the Airfield being “sent to Coventry”. The Farmer, his wife and his Children were outcasted, and even the local post office refused to serve them. It was a sickening vile experience to go through and Pandemonium truly felt for the Farmer and his family, and even raised the “hire fee” to ease the pain. (One street of villagers had been scared by the Police so much that they placed barbed wire across their driveways and gates, some barricading their drives with farm machinery, caravans, cars, you name it. It truly was bizarre).
Everything Pandemonium had built up over the previous couple of years had been shattered by despicable premeditated and intended actions, with authorities stating they had issued the injunction for they felt the organisers were “going to” flagrantly ignore the licence condition. This isn’t how the law works, you can only charge someone if they had committed an offence, and no offence had been committed and obviously with no breach of the licensing conditions as the event had not even gone ahead. Pandemonium knew full well, this was corruption and collusion at the highest levels and it was vividly clear.
In 93 Pandemonium moved to the now famous Digbeth Institute, Birmingham and made it their second Home, opening with Andromeda 4. However, with literally a couple of days to go before the opening all-nighter, an electrical problem was causing a fire hazard at the venue, which meant an immediate switch to the Hummingbird to Stage Andromeda4 and then Pandemonium were able to move into the Institute the following Friday & every Friday thereafter with Club Andromeda. A massive regular club Night that has gone down in rave and dance music history.
Andromeda5 at the institute, Andromeda 6 at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre, The Magnificent Andromeda7 & The huge show of Andromeda The Eighth Wonder both at the Institute, Andromeda 1X (9) at the Que Club Birmingham and Andromeda 10 at the massive Sheffield Arena, which received accolades around the UK resulting in winning best UK Lighting, design, and Production awards.
1994 saw Pandemonium back in Wolverhampton and started regular every Saturday night events at the now legendary Mr B’s nightclub, Willenhall. Yet another club which has gone down as one of the ultimate underground dance party venues known to the scene. A fantastic club with Pandemonium hosting some of the world’s greatest DJ’s & MC’s. Pandemonium travelled the Length and breadth of the UK staging events from this point forward, holding events and regular club nights at the Pleasuredome Skegness, Chester NorthGate Arena, The Plymouth Warehouse, The Legendary 051 CLUB Liverpool with Carl Cox and Guests, The Drome Birkenhead on a weekly basis, The Hard Dock Liverpool regular all-nighters, Preston, Sheffield, and the list goes on. Pandemonium continued to stage huge allnighters at the Institute and the Rainbow Venues Birmingham. And with numerous numerous tour dates over the years all over the country Pandemonium have been the UK’s number one Underground Rave and Dance Party event Pioneers since the inception of the scene and for three decades and continue today with some of the scene’s biggest parties.
PANDEMONIUM would like to pay thanks to all of the DJ’s and MC’s who have graced the Pandemonium stages and DJ box over almost 30 years now… And without doubt, great respect, honour and special thanks must go out to our residents, Lenni, Ranski, MC Manparris, BASSMAN, Dj Melody, Jock Lee, Lee Fisher, the Pandemonium dancers, and many more who stood by us through thick and thin.. But most of all.. a massive massive thank you to all the Pandemonium family, the Pandemonium faithful, who have followed us almost to each and every single event from the very beginning, it is you who counted, it was always you, the Pandemonium posse and crew who made Pandemonium what it is today. Nowhere in the Country could match up to the atmosphere you guys created, it is why pandemonium won so many accolades and awards, ultimately with Grooverider, Fabio, Carl Cox and BPM Dance show on ITV stating “Pandemonium is the number one promoters and club night in the Country” … Thank you… We could not have done this without you…
AND NOW….. watch out for Pandemonium in 2019/20 AND ONWARDS as we all together celebrate thirty years at the Heart and Soul of the scene.
See you all very soon, we live as one family.
HERE COMES THE SUN…