Film about Sunderland’s Monkey rave clubs now online

A documentary about Sunderland’s Blue Monkey and New Monkey dance venues is now online for all to see.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 04 June, 2019, 14:12

Two Monkeys is a film created by Sunderland University students Rob Kilburn, Lewis Dodds and George Christaki and follows the early days of the Blue Monkey, which once stood in Bedford Street, and its successor the New Monkey, in Pallion Road.

It was premiered at a screening hosted at the Quayside Exchange on Friday and an edited version of the finished work is now on YouTube for all to see.

The feature, which runs at just over 40 minutes, includes interviews with DJs, promoters, music enthusiasts and former police officers alongside people who went clubing at the venues.

Its first scene is a disclaimer, setting out how the views and opinions in the film are that of those interviewed, and that it could trigger seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy.

It touches on the drug use and sale and the police investigations, including Operation Peanut in 1992 which targeted dealers in the Blue Monkey, into its final days in 1994, when it burned down.

Inside The Blue Monkey, as seen in the film.

It also looks at the rivalry between the region’s clubs and the following Makina – the Spanish dance music brought in to play to clubbers – gained as it became popular in the North East.

It goes on to cover the launch of the New Monkey in 1999 as a members only club in a former bingo hall which had a chill out room which served Pot Noodles and ice pops alongside its main dance area.

The police raid, under Operation Chichester in March 2006, is also covered as Northumbria Police upped its efforts to close down the venue.

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Many of those who performed as MCs and DJs talk about their memories about the dance clubs.

Both sections talk about how both brought people together through their love of dance and forged friendships for life.

The team has been overwhelmed with the reaction of the film so far, with more than 13,000 views via YouTube so far.

Rob said: “Having worked hard on this documentary for over five months now it was a really rewarding experience for us getting to watch the film with an audience and see how they reacted as well as hearing their thoughts.

“Since its release this morning the positive response we have received is overwhelming and it is a real privilege to bring back happy memories for so many people.

Video footage from inside the clubs as been sourced by the team as they pieced together the story of the dance scene in Sunderland during the 1990s and 2000s.

“Without everyone getting in touch, supporting the Crowdfunder and showing us how much they wanted this documentary to be made it would not have been possible.

“At one point we almost changed our idea to a documentary on milkmen watching now how much people are enjoying it I’m very glad we stuck with the idea.

“It has been a really enjoyable experience making this documentary and it is something we enjoy and hopefully will continue to do for a long time.”

The New Monkey, in Pallion, drew in a young crowd as it opened as a private members club.
The DJs and the dance music they played is featured as part of the wider story about the club scene in Sunderland.
Police on the scene of the Blue Monkey nightclub in Bedford Street in January 1992.