Ipswich: Pam’s House turns 18 and you’re all invited to tomorrow’s party
- Credit: Archant
If the police officer flagged down by Batman and Spiderman in Woodbridge Road in the 1990s is reading this don’t worry, you weren’t hallucinating. You were just an unwitting part of Danny Banthorpe and Keith Tilley’s Pam’s House hijinx. It started one Monday night while they were chilling out in their flat.
“Tilley was in the kitchen making some toast. I thought I’d put the Spiderman outfit on to freak him out,” laughs Banthorpe. “I crept in behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped out of his skin. He ended up putting the Batman outfit on and we messed about, running up the road.
“Probably midnight, the road was empty, so we said ‘right, let’s stop the next car that comes’. We jumped out in the road as this car approached and it was police car. We carried on running down the road, back in the flat, turned all the lights out. The police car came out, shining the touch... one day I’m going to get together with Pete and write a book.”
Banthorpe, who founded the legendary club night with Tilley and Pete Walkden in 1996, disguising it as a birthday party for friends in a private members club for 130 people, is full of stories like this.
They used to have a man in a suitcase with just his legs poking out, who would run around the club. One of their friends used to dress up as a McDonald’s worker who would go up to people saying “you ordered this”.
Expect similar stunts when Pam’s House turns 18 tomorrow at The Malthouse, Ipswich, formerly known as Hollywoods.
“We’re going to roll back the years in the same venue we made our name, recreate that old fun. It’s a party, no pretence, all ages, all creeds... I’ve had people come to our events for years who don’t particularly like the music but they come for the atmosphere.”
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Banthorpe, spurred on by Walkden, tested the waters with a pre-reunion at The Malthouse last May. Ten years had passed since Pam’s House had done anything in the town; expecting 400-500 people to turn up, it was closer to 900.
“It was brilliant, so many old faces, people who haven’t been out for probably 10 years themselves, some even brought their kids to say ‘look, this is what I used to do’,” he laughs.
“The dancers, entertainers, people who gave out flyers, are all volunteers. People help out purely because they like the night - we call it the Pam’s House Family. It was an emotional night, the pace was slower (though),” he jokes. “It was a big gamble but nostalgia got us through... everyone’s like ‘let’s do it again’.”
Tomorrow night celebrates the club’s early years of 1996-2001.
“All the old DJs who used to play are back together again. I don’t think any of them play any more, anywhere else. There’ll be two rooms of music, one’s going to be house music, one’s going to be old school hardcore rave style.
“We’ve got a headline DJ in each room. Graeam Park’s in the main room, he was a resident DJ at Hacienda, which was an iconic house music night back in the 1990s. He’s played for us a few times in Ipswich, Norwich and Ibiza, so he’s got a bit of history with us. Slip Matt, the godfather of old skool and one of the hardest working, respected DJs in the world and Ice Bun are playing too.”
Starting in Banthorpe and Tilley’s flat, christened Pamela’s Penthouse because of the cardboard cut-out and posters of Pamela Anderson posters given to the former as a leaving present, the name was shortened to Pam’s House to publicize a coach trip to a London club in 1995. An eventful night, which also saw the coach breakdown in Chelmsford on the way back, it was decided to put parties on nearer home.
Evolving from an handbag house event to a trance dance then finally a hard dance event in the early 2000s, it’s now the longest running house music event in East Anglia.
“We started at The Attic Club in 1996, their license was cut so we were finishing early then we’d have 150-200 people go en-masse cross the road to The Double O Club. They didn’t know what hit them, it was still early for them because they were open all night. They said ‘come do it here’. In 1997 we got headhunted by Hollywoods and did a monthly event there for a year.
“In 1998 we were doing it every Saturday night. We were averaging 1,000 people, on the big showcase events like bank holidays the venue would get in 2,000-3,000 people. Back then we were naïve young promoters not businessmen,” he laughs. “We were just happy to put a party on, living in the moment. If we knew then what we knew now...
“It was the weekly at Hollywoods that sold it to other areas, people were coming from all over to this night because there weren’t many venues doing what we do. When we stopped the weeklies we went on tour... doing it in Clacton, Newmarket, Norwich, Ipswich, everywhere we went we took a coach or two coaches. We had dancers, entertainers, DJs, two drag queens who were really big butch blokes in their 30s who ran the doors for us.. wherever we went we took the party with us. They were phenomenal times.”
Not just an event, but an occasion, Pam’s House’s Hollywoods Reunion runs from 10pm-4am. And if you’re worried you’re too old to celebrate? “Don’t - everybody’s too old,” laughs Banthorpe.