by Jenny Brewer
In 1987, Danny Rampling went on a now-legendary trip to Ibiza with Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway. On their return, inspired by the experience, Danny started Shoom – a club credited with the birth of acid house in the UK. He also notably created its ubiquitous logo, the yellow smiley face that is visually synonymous with the genre. “It’s an iconic symbol that many people warm to, as it evokes childhood memories and represents happiness, joy and fun,” Danny tells It’s Nice That of its origins. “It will always stand the test of time as all strong, positive images do.”
Now, 30 years later, Danny is recreating the heady era for an anniversary event at London’s Southbank, celebrating the music and the culture surrounding it, with some added extras that suggest the future of clubbing. Alongside DJs Tony Humphries, Bushwacka, X-Press 2 and Danny himself, a dedicated VR space will host Mutator VR, which we wrote about here, where attendees can put on headsets and be surrounded by a trippy artwork that changes in response to their dance moves.
“VR is the obvious extension for the chill-out room,” says Mutator’s artist William Latham, “where putting on a VR headset to experience an immersive alternate reality, that responds to your tiniest movements, seems like a natural fit.” For the experience to be fully effective it avoids mobile phone VR, which William says gives a “shoddy visual experience,” and uses top-end tech – though this requires the equipment to be built into the architecture of the space. “Our headsets dangle from the ceiling on long black flexible tubes which connect the viewer’s head to the computer in the ceiling, like strange umbilical cords, giving the set-up a sci-fi feel.”
It also means the viewer can dance freely. “The next extension, which we’re working on, is to sync the software with any audio track, picking up the BPM, mood and melody, which could then be calibrated to suit their taste, so that eventually the viewer may be able to remix the track depending on how they move – so their body shapes their own audio/visual experience.”
Ilona, another DJ on the line-up, says she can envision this becoming a big part of clubbing culture. “You can see VR weaving into music collaborations a lot already, like Bjork’s music video installation, which is the tip of the iceberg. I can quite easily see us ‘plugging in’ to future concerts and DJ sets using this technology. People want to be part of that action and experience what’s going on.”
Shoom 30 takes place on 8 December at Pulse, Bankside Vaults, London.