Blow Up

Blow Up

Blow Up is a club night that was founded in the early 1990s by promoter and DJ Paul Tunkin at a North London pub called "The Laurel Tree". The night quickly became the centre of the emerging Britpop scene in Camden attracting long queues of people eager to gain entry to the tiny venue. Early regulars included members of Blur, Pulp, Elastica, Suede, The Buzzcocks, Huggy Bear and The Jesus & Mary Chain, leading to the club being referred to by some as the place where "Britpop was born" [Bloomfield, R. (1999, January 6). Pub where Britpop born closes down. "Time Out", p.43.
Frayne, H. (1997, September). Britpop pub has been made scapegoat [Letter to the editor] . "Camden New Journal".
] .

The style of Blow Up and its audience has been noted as an early influence on, and instrumental in, the later mid-Nineties explosion of the Britpop scene in the UK and abroad:


Often mistakenly labelled as purely a 'mod club' by the press, Blow Up's musical scope was much wider than this, although the club was initially started by Tunkin as a reaction to the prevalent grunge/slacker scene [Corrigan, Susan (1994, October). Blurred Brothers. "The Face", pp.24-25.] which he said "was so anti-style" [Heath, Ashley (1995, January 20). World Comes Around. "The Guardian" , p.7.] . The music played included British Pop and R'n'B from the 1960s (Small Faces, Kinks, Rolling Stones etc) and Soul, late 1970s New Wave (The Buzzcocks, Wire etc) together with emerging new bands mixed in with film soundtracks, 'music library' [See: Production Music] tracks, Easy Listening and 1960s electronic music (Jean Jacques Perry et al); anything that fell under Tunkin's term of 'Orgasmic Pop'.

1993-1996: The Laurel Tree

When the club first opened in October 1993 its audience was attracted by word of mouth, predominantly made up of Camden locals, as well as a large proportion of people from Tunkin's hometown of Southend ["All these famous bands turning up at what was basically a Southend club, but it just happened to be in Camden Town" Scanlon, A. (1997). "Those Tourists Are Money: The Rock N Roll Guide To Camden". London: Tristia. p.144.] . However almost a year after opening in 1994, an early defining point for Blow Up was the publication of a 4-page article in music magazine Select devoted entirely to the club [Pattenden, Sian (1994, September). Parkalife. "Select", pp.72-75.] , which attracted people from much further afield fuelling its popularity even further ["So absurdly popular these days, to be sure getting in, you have to start queuing the week before" Parkes, Taylor. (1995, June 17). It’s An NW1-derful Life. "Melody Maker", p.29.] . Blow Up's format and the sharp style of its 'regulars' was in contrast to the ubiquitous indie/rock clubs of the time and it went on to influence many similar nights; referred to by Melody Maker at the height of Britpop in 1995 as "The Club That Changed The World" [Sarra Manning (1995, March 18). That Was The Weekenders That Was. "Melody Maker", p.15.] . A year later Blow Up was featured in Vox Magazine as one of "5 clubs that changed the face of clubbing," [(1996, October). Clubwatch UK: Five Classic Clubs Of Our Time. "Vox".] alongside seminal UK punk clubs The Blitz and The Roxy.

1996-2001: The Wag Club

In 1996 the club relocated to Soho into the much larger venue of the The Wag Club, and did much to revive the latter's fortunes which had somewhat waned since it's 80 heyday [(1997, March 8). "The Guardian Guide (South)", p32.] . Although Blow Up had played host to the occasional live band in Camden, the larger capacity of the Wag enabled live shows to be hosted on a weekly basis, which continued to reflect the clubs broad musical outlook. Bands that played ranged from stalwarts of the 1960s music scene such as Desmond Dekker, to avant-garde acts such as Chicks On Speed and Stereo Total, and also included a very early show for The Libertines in 1999. In 1999 the club was voted No. 4 in Time Out Magazine's 'Top Ten clubs of the 90s' [(1999, December 22). Readers' Top Tens of the '90s: Clubs. "Time Out" , p.42.] . When The Wag finally closed in 2001 after 40 years [Previous to the 1980s, The Wag was known as 'The Whisky-A-Go-Go'] , the last club to be held there was Blow Up.

2001-Present: The Metro Club

During the last of several short residencies at other Soho venues in 2001 after The Wag's closure, Blow Up took over the running of a venue on London's Oxford Street called The Metro Club, and shortly after the Blow Up club night was moved here (where it is still in weekly residence) [ [] . Accessed November 15, 2006.
[] . Accessed November 15, 2006.
] . Prior to this The Metro club was known primarily as a club venue, but Blow Up began promoting live shows here too, and in 2002 the venue earned Time Out Magazine's 'Live Venue of The Year' award, attributed to the breakthrough acts booked in their first year there; early shows including bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kings Of Leon and The Killers.

Resident Djs

*Paul Tunkin (1993-present)

*Ian Jackson (1994-present)

*Andy Lewis (1993-2002)

*The Karminsky Experience (1994-1995, 1996-2001)

*Nori (aka Mansfield) (1995-1997)


The Blow Up club has also appeared on or as part of the following tours and events (incomplete):

*Blur, "Park Life" Tour, All UK dates, 1994.

*Blur at Mile End Stadium, London, UK, 1995.

*Pulp "Different Class" Tour, Aftershow at Wembley Arena, London, UK, 1995.

*NME Brat Awards, London, UK, 1995-1999.

*The Camden Crawl, London, UK, 1996 – 1997.

*"Quadrophenia", Film Reissue Launch, Brighton, UK, January 29 1997.

*MTV Europe Music Awards, Milan, Italy, 1998.

*V&A "Sixties Fashion", "Sixties Graphics" & "Che Guevara" Exhibitions Launch Night, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, June 5 2006.
The club has also held nights around the UK, as well in Europe, Japan, Russia and the USA.

ee also

There is also an affiliated record label Blow Up Records.

External links



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  • blow — blow1 [blō] vi. blew, blown, blowing [ME blowen < OE blawan < IE * bhlē : see BLAST] 1. to move with some force: said of the wind or a current of air 2. to send forth air with or as with the mouth 3. to pant; be breathless …   English World dictionary

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