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!”
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]