After clips from the early 1990s of the original 291 Club stirred massive attention on the internet recently, DJ Elayne Smith felt obliged to bring the show back to life for one night, 9th November.
The 291 show was a “raucous variety show where the audience picks the best act.” Two eight part series were aired on LWT and Channel 4 in the early 1990s, featuring comedians, singers, rappers, dancers, alternative and even some established acts. The original show was famed for its immersive audience participation, audience members didn’t hold back in letting contestants know if they were “hot or not.” If a performance didn’t wow, ‘the Sandman’ came to escort the artist off stage.
Smith, who’s been a DJ for over two decades, spoke to The Voice about revisiting the show, explaining her mixed emotions about it “because it’s like, ‘We’ve done it’, and everyone is like, ‘Congratulations’, but now we’re like, we’ve got to sell tickets!” She added “we could have done this a couple of years ago, but the timing wasn’t right.” The 291 Club acted as a platform for original acts such as Terri Alderton, Skunk Anansi, and Eternal before they became household names. That’s why she felt it could only be recreated at its original setting, the Hackney Empire. She teamed up with original 291 club’s Miles Crawford or ‘U-Decider’, and the two of them have financed the venture independently, but they hope the one off can act as a pilot for broadcasters looking for fresh, vibrant content.
Contestants on 9th November will be competing for the number one prize on the night, the first three places win trophies, and their very own featured track on the Club’s upcoming compilation album ‘Fly, Fresh n Phat Vol2’, established at EMI records. The winner of first place will have an automatic place in the 291 Club final taking place next year.
For this one off, they decided to have a panel exuding from a diverse range of vocations. Smith explains of the decision; “We’re going to have range of judges because we want it to be a celebratory show to celebrate the history of the 291 Club.” “It’s a variety show so we want to get judges who can do something for the artists who take part.” The confirmed judges include the likes of; Chrystal Rose from ITV’S The Chrystal Rose Show, Ivor Etienne (CEO of BEAT, London), Robert Bruce of Capital Xtra, Tiann Rowland-Dixon of Columbia Records, Carl McIntosh formerly signed to Virgin Records’ Loose Ends, and many more.
As if that’s not exciting enough, there’s even an after party. The after party will take place at the Empire Bar next door, with world famous Soul II Soul’s Jazzi Que playing tunes all night long.
For more info visit: www.291club.co.uk