Ballroom Birmingham to open on site of old Carling Academy
The old Birmingham Academy is set to, once again, re-open as a live music venue in September 2011, rebranded as The Ballroom Birmingham.
Now under new management, the former Hummingbird and Carling Academy in Dale End hopes to recapture much of the its original charm following numerous revamps over the last few decades. Currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment plan, the venue has chosen to keep its original name from when it first opened.
Having spent much of the 1980s and 1990s as the Hummingbird and formerly the site of the Top Rank Suite, The venue underwent refurbishment in the late 90s, opening as the Birmingham Academy in 2000 before being rebranded as the Carling Academy only two years later.
Following a 2008 buyout, the venue then became the O2 Academy Birmingham, not long after which it was announced the building itself and the Oasis Market situated above were earmarked for demolition to make way for a planned but shortlived project named ‘Martineau Galleries’.
This announcement and the new owner’s need for a more ‘modern’ music venue lead to the O2 Academy moving across to the Southside of the city centre and to the old Dome II nighclub venue, leaving the original building pretty much abandoned.
Until, of course, it was announced that the doors were once again reopening. News of the old venue’s soul re-emerging has set chins wagging across the city’s music scene, where excitement and curiosity seem to have left many hungry for more details on what appears to be, as yet, a very ‘behind closed doors’ project.
Richard Franks is editor of the city’s premiere music magazine Counteract, which was the first to break the story to the public. The avid music fan, who has also been given an exclusive tour of the new venue, feels the memories alone will bring punters back to the new-look establishment.
“Of course a new venue is nice, as the £4 million O2 Academy on Horsefair proved; but you can’t replace memories. It was clear for all to see that this venue had been dearly missed by those who grew up attending,” he explains.
“What wasn’t so clear, though, was what the venue’s plans were. Would they be bringing it back to the days of a main room gig almost every night? Would it just be occasionally used? Would it be used for live music or just for club nights?
“Personally, the Carling Academy holds a special place in my heart. I went to my first gig there. Drank my first pint there. Queued for my favourite band for hours and went in my first mosh pit there. I saw some fantastic bands there – The Libertines, The Strokes, Death From Above 1979, Arctic Monkeys and The Specials to name a few.”
READ MORE: Historic Dale End venue to reopen in September | Feature: Why the reopening of Dale End’s legendary music venue means so much to Brummies (Counteract magazine)
GALLERY: Inside the Birmingham Ballroom