Lost Club Culture: The Cottage and Kasbah

We’re now dropping our 8th clubbing series feature (who said Coventry had nothing to celebrate?) and as we roll into November we’ve only got a few left to drop, (please don’t cry!).

In our last feature, we gave you a blast from the past reminiscing about Coventry’s once loved nightclubs; The Planet, The Foundry and Ikon and Diva. We promised to pluck a couple more and sift through their successes.

For all of you house heads, here is a sprinkling of two more infamous venues and their stand-out events: The Earlsdon Cottage (yes, we miss you and your ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ parties) and The Kasbah (the Old Colisseum, before that the Tic Toc Club…and still going strong!).

We wanted to know how they’ve played a part in driving this City’s house music scene over the years…

The Earlsdon Cottage
This little gem sits in the bustling heart of Earlsdon Village, dating back to 1855 when it was first built as a ‘Watchmakers’ Cottage. With a capacity of 600, it was a promoter’s dream. Big enough for an bangin’ atmosphere and with the right offering, manageable to fill. The Cottage boasted five classy bar areas with stylish booths and cool décor, a chic Loft bar and a big, fully heated terrace. What more did you need?

As a venue, it is mostly renown for hosting the cult-loving ‘What Would Jesus Do’ (WWJD) and associated ‘Afterdark’ parties led by one of Coventry’s most innovative promoters, Stuart Talbot. Uplifting, soulful, house grooves blasted out the club’s Bose speaker sound system and people from all the Midlands flocked to see some of the best DJ’s on the scene. Resident roster included Dave Thatcher, Rye Biglove, Steve Young and Samson Lewis but along with up and coming DJ treasures, this event also pulled in the big hitters. The award winning, music meister and currently top of her game, Hannah Wants, spun the decks back in 2012 and Grant Nelson, tearing up the house and garage scene, dropped funkin’ bass-driven beats in 2014. The Cottage oozed style and glamour and with blow out events like WWJD, Coventry’s cool cats came out of hiding. (Check out the WWJD Youtube link at the end from 2011…oh my daze!)

In 2016 The Cottage underwent a £200,000 makeover and re-opened under the new name The Watchmakers. However, in 2017 it was put up for sale. It is public knowledge that the club had ongoing problems with noise regulations but after overcoming these and becoming a free house, it was an attractive investment. This June the venue was sold at auction from a buyer in the trade, so I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

Kasbah
We have to talk about this total legend of a venue: Kasbah, Primrose Hill Street, which is still up and running and houses shit loads of history (changing its name more than I’ve had hot dinners!). The club is more than 100 years old and one of the oldest entertainment venues in the City. It opened its doors in 1914 as a globe picture theatre and showed movies there for 40 years until its closure in 1956. After becoming the Majestic Ballroom for a few years, the venue was taken over by Mecca Organisation and reopened in 1962 as the Orchid Ballroom, pulling in some of the most influential record producers and music publishers of the early 60’s. At the end of the decade the club closed its doors and became a bingo hall before closing and lying dormant.

In the late 80’s, Jon Gaunt revived and renovated the disused and derelict building, opening in 1990 as the Tic Toc club. And funkin’ hell, their events were not to be missed! Not only did the nightclub capture the emerging Britpop scene, playing host to international superstars including Blur and Ocean Colour Scene but blew the roof off with their hardcore house events. Coventry was a mass of mad ravers at that time with the iconic Eclipse nightclub around the corner. Tic Toc capitalised on this with Amnesia House events collaborating with Dance Craze and local record store Bang In Tunes. Every fortnight, on a Wednesday, the club told the City to “expect hardcore and more” – with a go hard or go home mentality. And boy, did they deliver. Big hitters Groove Rider and Fabio dropped bassline beats and squelched the shit out of acid house with local stars Park/Wilson (Eclipse), Ratty (Fibre Optic), Sparkzy (Dance Craze) and Luke (Bang In Tunes).

Ravers were given more than music, they were handled a bundle of promotions amalgamating to an encompassing, crazy clubbing experience. Ice-cream, strawberry flavoured smoke, Robo Zaps and Moonflowers were given out to the dance lovin’ crowd. Check out the 1991 club flyer we dug out for your delight and another classic from November 1992. Guess who was headlining with a four-and-a-half-hour set…no other than the indisputable dance geniuses – The Prodigy.

In 1995 the club was reborn as Colosseum (the Colly) with a different focus on the dance scene – holding regular themed nights such as ‘Fundamental’ and ‘The Groovy Garden’, starting out at the Dog and Trumpet in the early 80’s. Between 1995-99, the event ‘Seduction’ was running every Saturday night and Coventry nightlife was booming! They played deep, soulful, dance anthems with residents Tom Maloney, Shane Brown and Craig Reagan.

During late 2007 the Colosseum was refurbished and relaunched as Kasbah with a weekly mix of club nights and regular live bands. Students go in their droves but with their young target market and mixed commercial music policy, it is not considered a place for the sophisticated clubbing crowd (if Coventry has one, I hear you say). However, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’s, Stuart Talbot, challenges this with one-off, festival-style events. Recent ‘Summerdaze’ daytime parties on bank holiday Sundays have been perfectly designed for Coventry’s dancin’ troops.

If this feature triggers your clubbing memories, good or bad, share your comments. Native loves to hear from you!

A three minute YouTube WWJD treat, circa 2011 – Can you spot any familiar house heads?

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