Thursday 9th September 2004
All content © New Journal Enterprises, 2004.

KoKo’s marketing boss Eddie Hill

Renovation of the Camden Palace has uncovered hidden features

Going: Camden Palace

Palace revolution ushers in the reign of club KoKo
Relaunch of music venue where Madonna and The Clash starred
THE pink neon sign of the Camden Palace nightclub is due to be stripped from the wall of the celebrated venue next week and offered to the highest bidder on an internet auction site.
But as web users get ready to log on to eBay hoping to land a piece of Camden Town’s music history, the team mapping out the next chapter of 1 Camden High Street’s colourful history insists it has an even brighter future.
Planning permission is likely to be granted by the end of this week for a new sign, a curved steel plate with the venue’s new name and logo, KoKo.
The new club opens next month with a week-long festival of free-ticket events showcasing the regular line-up at the former theatre.
They include a Latin night, a show hosted by popular music magazine the NME and the offbeat club party Kitch Lounge Riot, currently staged at the Café de Paris in the West End.
Unsigned bands are also likely to rub shoulders with firmly established acts, as KoKo bosses promise to continue the venue’s tradition of bringing star names to Camden Town.
In its 103-year history the building has hosted appearances by stars ranging from comic Charlie Chaplin to The Clash and Madonna.
As the New Journal took a sneak peek behind the scaffolding at the renovation work in the main hall, KoKo’s marketing boss Eddie Hill said: “There has been more work than we first expected.
“We have re-painted the whole venue inside but we will be ready in time.
“There were a few surprises, a few things that were kept covered up and not seen. There were a lot of metal features from the 1980s when there were changes made inside.
“But it is such an amazing venue that we have been keen to bring back the old features. There were some bits that had fallen into disrepair and we wanted to bring them back into use.”
After a six-month renovation of the grade-II listed building, KoKo managers believe the venue can operate successfully in a neighbourhood that already boasts the Electric Ballroom, the Jazz Café, the Dublin Castle and Barfly.
Ms Hill added: “We believe KoKo can be something special. We have been out and spoken to people and found out what they want from the venue. I don’t think we will have one style of music. It will be open to everyone.”
The venue – previously known as the Palace Theatre, the Camden Hippodrome and the Music Machine – opened on Boxing Day 1900 and was originally a playhouse before being transformed into a cinema and then into radio studios for the BBC.
In the early 1980s, after avoiding demolition, it was revamped again, this time as a nightspot popular during the New Romantic cult.
Recently, specialist dance party promoters have dominated the schedules until the venue closed earlier this year following a £4 million transfer from entertainments chain Luminor Leisure to new owner The Mint Group.
Ms Hill plans to mix old and new. “We wanted to restore the old features,” she said. “But we have also put in a new sound system. It is expensive but important.
“The acoustics in here are fantastic. It should be a place people will want to come back to.”
KoKo is a major project for The Mint Group, whose other outlets include Infernos, a nightclub in Clapham, south London, and bars dotted around the West End.
Ms Hill said: “I’d be really happy if we could be open every night but we will definitely be open for three or four nights a week.”