Two Monkeys documentary on Sunderland's rave scene set to welcome new students to the city

A documentary which captures the stories behind two Sunderland dance clubs is to be screened as a welcome to new students arriving at the city's university.

Monday, 26th August 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th August 2019, 7:46 pm

Two Monkeys focuses on the Blue Monkey, which was in Bedford Street in the city centre, and New Monkey, in Pallion Road, with the film to be screened as part of this year's University of Sunderland Welcome Week for new students.

The film is the result of months of work from digital film production graduates Rob Kilburn and Lewis Dodds, with the university stating the impact of the closed clubs, their music and reputation are still relevant today.

The documentary will be screened at the university cinema at St Peter’s Media Centre on Wednesday, September 18, at 6.30pm.

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Inside The Blue Monkey, as seen in the film.

Rob, 25, from Seaburn, said: “This turned out to be quite a complex project but we are delighted with the result and have had some really positive feedback.

“The film has had more than 50,000 views online and we are looking forward to the screening at the university next month.”

While Rob was much younger at the peak of the clubs’ popularity, he still remembers the impact and reputation they had on young people growing up in Sunderland.

Sunderland University students Rob Kilburn and Lewis Dodds who produced Two Monkeys about the former New Monkey and Blue Monkey nightclubs in Sunderland Picture by David Wood.

He said: “They were the most talked about places; they reached beyond being just nightclubs.

"The music they were playing was quite wide-reaching.”

The venues highlighted music genres including Makina, a form of hardcore techno which originated in Spain with a keen following in the North East, and Monta, the events held to dance and listen to it.

The Blue Monkey was set up in an old bingo hall on land where the Empire cinema now stands and was a haven for ravers in the 1990s before it burned down.

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

In 1999, the former Plaza Bingo Hall in Pallion was turned into a club, this time called the New Monkey.

However, residents living near by objected to the plans, claiming their lives would be disrupted by late night comings and goings, loud music and antisocial behaviour.

It closed in March 2006 following a police raid.

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.
Rob Kilburn and Lewis Dodds at their editing desk. Picture by David Wood.
The former New Monkey nightclub on Pallion Road in Sunderland. Picture by David Wood.