Interactive VR experience about the Acid House movement to launch in Coventry

"Ultimately, it’s about our universal desire, whatever our age, to feel connected to others"

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, an interactive VR experience based on the Acid House movement, is to launch in Coventry later this year.

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The exhibition invites “audiences to go in search of an illegal rave, one night in Coventry in 1989. From poster-strewn bedrooms to pirate radio stations, police headquarters to secret warehouses, you’ll step-into the shoes of rave culture pioneers as you go in search of the party.”

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In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats is “in an immersive exhibition and explorable virtual world set in Coventry. Combining Acid House tracks with interactivity and multi-sensory simulation, it brings to life the stories of the promoters, police officers, and rave-goers, whose rivalries and relationships drove a revolution in music and society.”

Directed by Darren Emerson and produced by East City Films and BPM XR LTD, In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats will get its premiere on March 28 as part of the Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations. The hour-long exhibition will be hosted at The Box in Fargo Village and run until May 1. Tickets are on sale now from here.

The soundtrack to the experience will, according to Emerson, feature a mix of tracks from the time from people like Orbital, Joey Beltram, Neil Howard alongside more modern tracks. “I didn’t want to be slavishly tied to just using music from 1989, and instead wanted the soundtrack to convey the feeling I was after,” Emerson told NME.

“I really loved the concept of using technology like VR to take audiences back to a time where technology was not as pervasive as it is now. No mobile phones, no GPS, no Internet. All you have to find a party was a rumour, a phone number on a flyer, pirate radio, a road map, roadside telephone boxes and a great deal of determination. Yet still, with all those barriers, thousands upon thousands of people found parties up and down the country every weekend.”

Emerson continued: “It doesn’t feel that long ago, but the world is very different now; to not be tracked, geo-located or on CCTV everywhere you go would feel like a gift. I think the resurgence in interest in the Acid House movement is bound up in this mix of nostalgia, and a longing for a society that has more civic freedoms, and more physical collective connections. It’s not lost on me that there is a certain irony in using VR to try and recreate it.”

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Acid House
In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats. CREDIT: East City Films

According to Emerson, the project has been in the works since he first created his East City Films company in 2015. Speaking to NME, he explained “A lot of the work I have done in VR has focussed on stories where the themes of community, politics and social history intersect. In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is very much still in that vain.

“The goal of the project was to immerse audiences in the moments that characterised a night out in 1989, and allow them discover more about the people involved in organising, attending and policing those early unlicensed parties along the way.”

He continued: “Most of all I want people to have fun; to use VR to replicate the feeling of discovery and escapades that characterised the scene in those early days. If you experienced Acid House then the night we depict will be something you remember and carry with you. Ultimately, it’s about our universal desire, whatever our age, to feel connected to others, to have the support of a community and to celebrate and to dance together till dawn.”

Rather than a reflection of his own experiences at illegal raves, In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats is “a composite of lots of people’s experiences of the scene from 1988 to the early 1990’s. Ask anyone who attended these early raves up and down the country and you will hear similar stories of experiences that fundamentally changed who they were.

“There are certain unifying themes that emerge; the feeling of adventure, the sense of community, the joy of connection to others. These are universal emotions that transcend the music being played: whether you were into Acid House, techno, trance or whether it was 1988 or 1994,” Emerson continued.

“I’ve always said that this is not a documentary experience, but an immersive cinematic experience of creative non-fiction. Certainly I hope people will come out of In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats with more knowledge of the Coventry acid house scene, but this has always been intended to be visceral entertainment, and not an exercise in education.”

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