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With the opening of matter - a truly ‘sensational’ club in Greenwich, London - Jerry Gilbert
meets up with the man behind its revolutionary integrated lighting and sound system, Dave
Parry, to discuss his theories on the art of good club design...
The holy grail for any club creator is to achieve a state of came out.”
synaesthesia - using whatever alchemy and weird science is at his After the Powerhouse Dave progressed through the ranks of the
disposal. multiples which was no bad thing at a time when Mecca Leisure
Here’s how it works. Get all the instruments in place, take all the and First Leisure were largely shaping the style and direction of
sensory stimuli (in this case sound, colour and visual movement) macro clubbing in the mid-to-late ‘80s.
and jumble them up to create disorder. After blocks of these When a friend of his, Hector Dewar, went to run the Ministry of
effects have been whizzed and juxtaposed spatially through Sound, he was taken on as the lighting operator but then helped
360° the confusion sets in whereby you think you are hearing to redesign the sound system under his newly-formed company
the colour, while the sound is assaulting your eyes. This is total Most Technical. At the same time he was also introduced to
immersion. This is true synaesthesia. Outboard Electronics’ Dave Hayden, who has subsequently been
Dave Parry is the guiding hand behind matter, which represents a major influence on his work.
the biggest tectonic shift in providing total kinetic immersion. The But by the early ‘90s club technology was entering a kind of
designer refers to it as the Kandinsky principle - the expressionist cultural dystopia. “All the moving yoke lighting started to come
artist described the fusion music, lights and colour, movement out and it became a bit boring - you couldn’t get Vari-Lite unless
and vibrations as creating a trance-like state. Think of diving into a you were some lighting god but then [the Clay Paky] Golden Scan
crucible. came out, and that was something everyone could use.” It also
For Dave Parry’s company, Most Technical, the challenge at matter heralded the birth of the unlicensed raves.
- the latest arrival at London’s O2 Arena - had simply been to “The Rave scene was made for Golden Scan and it really pushed
create the most technically advanced venue in the universe. the boundaries. During that period it was always a question of
He had been acutely aware of the possibilities since walking into what could we grab from SpotCo for those weekend parties? And
the proto-industrial Powerhouse in Birmingham - arguably Britain’s they too had a huge influence on British lighting during that time of
first superclub - and taking his position behind the vast lighting experimentation.”
console. This was 25 years ago, when Dave was still in his late But as all the ideas so fondly nurtured in the club world,
teens slowly started to migrate to other, more durable sectors of
For the uninitiated, the Powerhouse was a massive slab of German entertainment and industry Dave Parry entered the next chapter
proto-industrial/fascist architecture with one of the first giant in his career.
mechanical lighting rigs; the fact that Dave Parry never returned to Nicky Smith, with whom he had worked at the Colosseum in
his apprenticeship as a tool-maker after that is no surprise. Vauxhall, introduced him to Keith Reilly and by the end of 1999
The experience of piloting that rig also probably taught him that to the new club was ready to blast into action (more of which later).
become a Formula 1 champion you don’t necessarily need to start With fabric purring like a well-oiled machine, Dave Parry headed
off in a go-kart. off to Leeds in 2002 to design Rehab for Chris Edwards - providing
Entering a generation that spawned the greatest nightclubs that a kinetic Aladdin’s cave for the city’s über-popular Back to Basics
have ever been built (before he was out of his teens he also visited night, run by Dave Beer, David Elliott and Antony Georgallis’.
the legendary Paradise Garage in New York’s Greenwich Village) Within six months he was in Glasgow, working with Mike Grieve
and operated the lighting at Camden Palace in its heyday, when and Paul Crawford (to create the Sub Club).
Colin Faver and Eddie Richards were working their rotational But by this time, Manpreet ‘Monty” Chadha, an Indian
gymnastics at the turnables. businessman, had visited fabric, and overwhelmed by the power
But Dave Parry really started to appear on the clubbing radar of the Martin Audio sound system, hired Dave Parry to replicate
during the party idiom at the Ministry of Sound in the 1990’s the effect and create the best nightclub in India. The result was
before heading across town to build fabric London for owners Elevate in New Delhi which opened in 2004 … and for a while it
Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie - just before the turn of the looked as though the UK industry might have seen the last of Dave
millennium. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Parry’s creative spirit as all kinds of possibilities unfurled in the sub-
He reflects fondly on his early influences as a lighting operator. continent and the Parry family moved out to join him.
“The biggest buzz was seeing Marc Brickman’s design for Pink “Clubbing is all about becoming immersed and disconnected from
Floyd’s Pulse tour at Earl’s Court - no-one has come close to what the outside world - and I was fortunate to work with all these
he did there, it was stunning. To see all these Vari-Lites going at people, who shared the same belief.”
once … and the sensation when the mirrorball opened up and all Although he duly returned to the UK, working freelance before
the lights whacked onto it … that’s never left me! taking up a permanent position with Avolites in April 2007, the
“It’s always been concerts that have done it for me and I legacy of India remained.
remember the same sensation seeing Genesis when Vari-Lite first It was while in Delhi that he had received a phone call from
November / December 2008 025
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