Dublin’s RedBox opened on this day in 1996…
Some three-and-a-half years after the opening of The Pod nightclub, on Dublin’s Harcourt Street, the late entrepreneur John Reynolds unveiled a state-of-the-art live venue perched on top of it, the RedBox.
As time would go on, the 1,250 capacity space would become better known as the main nightclub within the three-venue complex, attracting some of the world’s biggest DJs and live acts. Later, it would evolve into Tripod, arguably a more purpose-built club venue.
Earlier this year, 909originals spoke to club designer Ron McCulloch, who, having worked on The Pod and neighbouring Chocolate Bar, was summoned back to Dublin in the mid-90s to work on the new venue.
“John was keen to show me the space above the Chocolate Bar, and I was thinking to myself, ‘ok, this is going to be the next one’,” McCulloch explained. “And sure enough, within a year or two, I was working on the RedBox.
“It was a big space, so compared to the Pod or the Chocolate Bar, there wasn’t too much to the design of it. It was a case of spatial modelling, and working out how we can get the best possible use out of it.”
And as for the name?
“The name didn’t really have a story behind it, just out of some conversations that myself and John had,” said McCulloch. “It was a lean towards the functionality of the place, which was to provide a ‘box’ for live entertainment and the sort of events he started putting on there.
“One of the fun design elements of the place was that there was a tiny little ‘red box’ somewhere in the club, and you had to try and find it. It ended up being in two or three different places. You might be in the venue a hundred times, and you wouldn’t know it was there!”
Read the full interview with Ron McCulloch here.
The opening night, 10 December 1996, saw a gig by Neneh Cherry, at the end of a tour to promote the album Man, which would be the Buffalo Stance artist’s last full album release until 2014.
“The new Red Box venue in Dublin’s POD nightclub was given a man-sized launch last night when UK hip-hop diva Neneh Cherry ended her current tour at the Harcourt Street venue,” Kevin Courtney wrote in The Irish Times (read the full review here).
“Neneh’s most recent smash, Woman, was given a dubby remix, opening up a heady world of beats and echoes, but 7 Seconds was ticked off like clockwork, and the capacity crowd synchronised perfectly with the familiar rhythm.”
The RedBox (and latterly Tripod) would continue to pack them in well into the next decade, with the venue eventually closing its doors in 2012.
It’s currently under development, with plans to reopen the site soon as a restaurant, retail and office complex – a step towards property group Clancourt Holdings’ (which owns the building) ‘master plan to create an €850 million ‘Covent Garden-style district’ in Dublin city centre called ‘Opera Quarter’, as The Journal reported last year.
But whatever form the former Harcourt Street railway station takes in the future, they can’t erase the memories. See you down the front, yeah?
Feel free to share some of your favourite RedBox memories (or DJ sets) in the comments below. 🙂
[All photos (except last image) by Francois Pittion]
5 thoughts on “Dublin’s RedBox opened on this day in 1996…”
Was the best club in dublin for at least 5 years. John Digweed, Sasha, Darren Emerson all played there but best night was George Clinton and Parliament. George signed my girlfriends boobs that night
Stuart McMillan DJ’ing with Funk DeVoid playing live….lost my cloak room ticket as you do, thought id put it in my coin pocket, checked just as the night was getting going, ticket not there. Just said feck it and didn’t worry about it. Moved in to the middle of the dance floor and had an amazing night. Just as the lights were coming on my then girlfriend picked up a cloakroom ticket off the floor, went up to see if it could possibly be my ticket….got to the top of the long queue….was only my ticket!!!
Daft Punk 1997
It is hard to be negative about something without drawing criticism as I realise many people had a great time in the Red Box, but I have my own view of that period in Dublin development of the Rave.
The Red Box was a club, the distinction between a Rave and a Club I can only offer how I see and understand it.
A Rave was in essence an expression of freedom, breaking away from the societal norms of the past, where anyone could come and enjoy the experience and was accepted for what they are regardless of dress sense or social background. Also, the music and people was what it was all about and DJ would not be elevated to the focal point of the Rave, most of the time you would hardly know where the DJ is or even who they were, check out this short video,
A Club was when the music was adopted by the nightclub industry and sanitised, a club adhered to normal rules of opening and closing times and exclusion of people that they deemed not fit for their club, it was an enterprise being run with the aim of making money utilising the music and energy of the Rave in order to do that, dress codes and drink promotions all being part of the rules of a club.
The Red box did have amazing line up of DJ’s, and no doubt played killer tunes, but I know from experience if you turned up at the door in runners, you were not getting in, who can dance like crazy in shoes!!!?, they were very selective in who they admitted to the venue, if you attempted to remove your top in the place you would be either told to put it back on if they were in a good mood, or most likely turfed out. You couldn’t let it all go in the Red Box the way you could in the venues that preceded it (Olympic, Asylum, Sides, Waterfront, Ormond)
Like I said, its hard to criticise without upsetting people that enjoyed the place, its not my intention, but that’s my take on it, places like the Red Box started the sanitisation of the Rave and what the music was born out of and was for me anyway the beginning of the end of Raves in Dublin city.
DJ Shadow in 97 was a special gig.Great memories