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10 YEARS AT RAINBOW VENUES

The Rainbow in Birmingham celebrates 10 years

Echoing the amazement of the “triple rainbow” guy on YouTube, Birmingham's The Rainbow Venues just keep on multiplying. Starting life as a grotty Victorian pub in Digbeth — yellow wood-chip walls, world flags on the ceiling and a messy old courtyard with live wires exposed — now it rests as the city's No.1 dance mecca. A composite arrangement of numerous venues, these days it offers access to various bar/club spaces, a warehouse, courtyard and a 5,000-capacity arena that allows for inner city festivals. It's an evolution that's taken 10 years, so this month Lee McDonald and Adam Shelton are celebrating with an autumn season involving Annie Mac Presents (AMP), Godskitchen, Hospitality and Cream, as well as homegrown promotions like Below, Face and 02.31 until New Year's Day. Blackdot presents Guti and a 24-hour rave have already kicked off proceedings, but how did it all start?

“The look for a space to have a rave became an addiction, an addiction became an obsession, and when a derelict space would become available in and around the Rainbow pub, we would throw a rave in there. If it worked, we would get it legalised, then it would become a Rainbow venue,” explains Lee. “In answer to your question, Below was the main culprit, then I would be left to pick up the pieces. There was a habit of building things before approval from the authorities, but that was always part of the fun.”

Back in 2004, The Rainbow's previous landlord predominantly favoured the odd ska, reggae and roots nights — “house was almost a swearword,” says Lee — until he eventually agreed to let Adam throw a Below party during the day on a Sunday, but as that grew in popularity, the pub's precarious state became an issue as the authorities caught on. With the landlord unable to afford the repairs, Lee swooped at the chance of taking on the premises. What followed was a period in which Lee and Adam scoped out the surrounding location for new spots for parties, taking a 'suck it and see' approach to spaces before snapping them up permanently.

“As soon as the ‘To Let’ signs went up I would rip them down in the middle of the night and make the call/send the email that day,” explains Lee. “It was a cluster of industrial spaces within a 0.25 radius, then adding pieces to the jigsaw gradually we got to where we are now. The arena was the missing piece with its 5000 capacity, meaning, self-contained in its entirety, we have the potential to do a 25,000 capacity city festival.”

Birmingham clubbers welcomed GlobalGathering's MADE in May, where everybody from Chase & Status to MK and Annie Mac came to play over three dates for The Rainbow Venues' biggest event yet. And with UK house, garage, dubstep/bass, d&b, techno and trance all getting represented this autumn, it's not only the venue that's increased its girth over the years, the music policy has also broadened in line with people's tastes.

“Birmingham was predominantly vocal/funky house, it became stuck in its ways, people were afraid to try something different,” says Lee. “Godskitchen held its own and moved into the superclub world, but over time superclubs lost their appeal. People didn’t want carpets or a decent glass, people wanted to have it right out in a raw industrial space. Rainbow was exactly that, no frills, just good quality music on a great soundsystem with like-minded people. Our recent venture with Spotlight and Nextdoor offers a much chicer environment in comparison, with classic furnishings and quirky decor.”

With plans for a street food market, a Christmas market to rival Winter Wonderland and a Shangri La-inspired festival village on their way, there's still a lot more to come.

RAINBOW LINE UP FOR OCTOBER

Friday 3rd October | Seedy Sonics 4th Birthday & 10 years of Shogun Audio |The Rainbow Warehouse & Garden

 

Mele, Mak & Pasteman, Icicle, Joe Ford, People Just Do Nothing, LFM & Mail and more

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Saturday 4th October | The Rainbow Warehouse & Garden

Emalkay, Hatcha, Megalodo, Ponicz

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Friday 10th October | Nextdoor

Hector Couto, Cuartero

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Saturday 11th October | The Rainbow Warehouse & Garden

Mike Skinner, Shy FX, Ms Dynamite, Tom Shorterz

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Friday 18th October | Nextdoor

Shadow City

Saturday 19th October | Face 5th Birthday | The Rainbow Warehouse & Garden

Jamie Jones

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Friday 24th October | Hacienda | The Rainbow Warehouse & Garden

Happy Mondays (live), Peter Hook

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Saturday 25th October | The Haunting Part |All the Rainbow Venues

Nick Curly, Route 94, XDB, Andrew Galluzi, Samu.l

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