Lost Club Culture: The Nineties & Noughties

Right then house heads, it’s time to reminisce about the funkin’ good venues Coventry can stand up and be proud of. Unfortunately, as this City’s committed clubbers know, most of them now sit in the past (sigh). This feature series has highlighted our current lack of venues but that doesn’t stop us from celebrating some of the great ones – take a step back in time to remember your dancin’ days and go ahead and give us your comments. Did you hit The Foundry, The Planet, Ikon and Diva? Do you know about the history of the venues and the international brands they supported back in the day? Are you aware of some of the big-name DJs that jumped behind their decks? Do you want to see some proper old skool flyers for these clubs? Sit back and let it all sink in…

The Foundry
Let us not forget The Foundry on Far Gosford Street, an Art Deco cinema recreated as the perfect clubbing space. With one dance floor, one chill-out bar and a medium sized capacity of 800, big branded events could steam roll in and be confident in filling out the place.

The club should be proud of famously hosting ‘Back to Basics’ on Saturday nights with big named DJ’s such as Roger Sanchez, Luki Soloman, Claudio Cocculuto, Kevin Saunderson and Ralph Lawson with surprise guest PA’s. This iconic dance brand first started out at The Music Factory in Leeds, November 1991 and in 1996 ‘Cut the Crap’, a term born from ‘Back to Basics’ because of its no-nonsense, ‘get on it’ ethos, launched its night at The Foundry. Clubbers grabbed the chance to dance to superstar DJ’s and rammed its rafters. Go Cov for playing a part in this badass brand’s development!

The club can also shout about its successful ‘Housework’ events on Thursday. Although created with students in mind, selling cheap drinks with low entrance fees, world class DJs including Judge Jules and John Kelly filled the joint. An affordable ‘happy house’ night bang central to the City. Job done.

The Planet
And what about the 1,500 capacity ‘The Planet’ nightclub in Cox Street, owned by Coventry University Students? A club covering 12,000 square feet and spreading across four floors!

The Planet hosted one of the world’s first truly global dance brands ‘Godskitchen’. This mega house event launched in the UK at Junction Nightclub, Cambridge and continued to sell out nights, gaining momentum at Air in Birmingham. By May 1996, in Northampton, their decision to launch ‘Godskitchen’ on a regular basis attracted huge queues to a packed-out venue. No ticket, no entry!

Rolling with its success there was a need for somewhere bigger and better so they shifted their sell out events to Coventry’s own The Planet. It was a risky move and didn’t initially pull in the punters but they persevered until ‘Godskitchen’ had a loyal crowd in their thousands, all drawn to Coventry for unstoppable house beats. In the late 1990’s, ‘Godskitchen’ finally found their home in the Sanctuary night club in Digbeth, regularly attracting 2000 clubbers. The brand picked up lightning speed both national and internationally so pat on the back to The Planet for helping to build a house brand, which musically conquered the world!

With our ear to the ground, we wanted to know what the hell happened to one of the City’s biggest venues and we uncovered a bit of goss to explain it’s sad demise. In 1996 Coventry University invested a staggering £3 million to improve the nightclub but unfortunately, things went downhill from there. In November 1998, the club closed for a week due to an investigation into mismanagement, which resulted in the resignation of the manager and suspension of two staff. By January 1999, it was back up and running with the guidance of a specialist, external company. It was concluded that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing with regards to the running of the club and that ‘naivety’ was the main failing among managers. The final nail in the coffin was in November 1999 when ‘The Planet’, frequented by thousands of students was put up for sale. It was felt the recent setbacks of closure, the lack of student footfall over the Summer and the growing competition from venues such as the Skydome complex contributed to the final decision to sell. Such a shame.

Coventry Skydome
And here we have the controversial Skydome, opening in 1999 and causing a tidal wave in Coventry’s clubbing scene. Some say ‘it was shit and catered for the masses’ – but is this snobbery from the niche house loving crowd? Was it so big it killed competition in the City – attracting people in their thousands and emptying the City centre’s busy bars? Whatever your views, it was the biggest superclub this City has ever seen and hosted a lot of successful house events, attracting heavyweight DJs.

All of a sudden there was food, pre-drinking bars and nightclubs in one location – where else did you need to go? Ikon Diva slammed into the City as a ginormous, 2,735-capacity venue. The nightclub was split into two large rooms – Ikon for over 18’s and Diva for over 25’s with state of the art sound, lighting, lasers and video. The conjoining clubs played the latest house and r’n’b tunes, drawing headliners including Dave Pearce, A.T.B. and Sasha. Check out our throwback Youtube vid at the end of this feature.

In 2005 Ikon Diva underwent a multi-million-pound investment, re-opening as Lava and Ignite but the clubbing crowd had changed and the ‘wow’ factor of the once-monopolising venue had diminished. Just over a decade after opening they shut the doors for good and in 2011, converted the building into Pure Gym.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next venue shakedown. Do you remember Coventry’s Tic Toc Club, renamed as the Colloseum and currently known as Kasbah? Or what about The Cottage with their ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ parties? We’ve plucked these venues to chat about next…stay tuned…

Ikon Diva circa 2007 – funkin’ brilliant vibe! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfX9ga9CD2c


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