Celebrated Birmingham photographer Pogus Caesar‘s film about the legendary Tower Ballroom – where music acts such as David Bowie and The Wailers performed – will get a special screening at a free event on Sunday (9 October).

The Tower of Dreams film looks back at the social and cultural history of Birmingham’s Tower Ballroom at Edgbaston Reservoir.

The special screening is part of a series of Black History Month events hosted by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Multi-talented Pogus Caesar – photographer, curator, conceptual artist, and archivist – was raised in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham. His raw and powerful photographs of the Handsworth Riots in 1985 threw a spotlight on racism, police brutality and social injustice.

Pogus Caeasar Handsworth Riots - 1985Pogus Caesar / OOM Gallery
Caesar’s photographs of the Handsworth Riots in 1985 exposed racism, injustice and police brutality

Caesar is now showcasing a film about one of Birmingham’s famous performance venues which is on the brink of oblivion as developers move in on the abandoned and decaying building.

Tower of Dreams is an intimate and heart-warming documentary which looks back at the iconic ballroom through the memories of six people and their relationship to The Tower Ballroom which was once an integral part of Birmingham’s social and cultural landscape for more than a 100 years.

Caesar’s poignant film is a love story dedicated to The Tower Ballroom which opened in 1876 but is currently in a neglected and dilapidated condition and facing a bleak future.

Throughout the decades the Tower Ballroom was a hub of music, dance, cuisine, sport and romance.

The venue was used as a skating rink, boxing and wrestling ring, and dance hall, and has hosted numerous events, parties, concerts, and weddings across the decades. People all over the West Midlands have cherished memories of their time at the iconic ballroom.

Audiences have enjoyed live performances by legendary artists such as The Wailers, Black Uhuru, The Who, Happy Mondays, Burning Spear, New Order, The Drifters, John Holt, The Dammed, The Three Degrees, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Smiths, and David Bowie.

One of the last great cultural milestones in the history of The Tower Ballroom took place in 2019 when the Birmingham Opera Company performed Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the historic venue in a production directed by the pioneering and peerless Sir Graham Vick who tragically passed away last year.

Graham Vick - Birmingham Opera CompanyRangzeb Hussain
The late Sir Graham Vick directed an opera at The Tower Ballroom in a critically-acclaimed production

Caesar began work on the Tower of Dreams film in 2021 for Windrush Productions. He employed extensive research and located a number of key individuals who frequented the legendary ballroom but whose stories have never been told.

Interwoven with rare archive material and an emotive soundtrack, Tower of Dreams charts the relationship of the people and their intimate recollections of The Tower Ballroom.

The venue – situated on the banks of the Edgbaston Reservoir – provided a haven that celebrated cultures irrespective of race, creed or colour. The place was a beautiful melting pot of people, diverse cultures, and a celebration of life through the art of music and dance.

The events at the ballroom were often the place where future couples first met, and people rubbed shoulders with immigrants from far distant shores and friendships were cemented over drinks and dancing. Communities from the West Indies, South Asia, Africa and Ireland all shared the same space and spoke through the passion of music or sport.

At heart of it, Tower of Dreams is a long overdue love letter to one of Birmingham’s legendary venues written by Maverney Kettle, Simon Mills, Kate Cook, Colonel Red, Darryl Georgiou and Bernie Dixon.

The much-loved venue may soon be demolished and lost but it will live on through the memories of those who once danced and shared special times inside the ballroom.

Tower of Dreams will be screened on rotation in the Participation Space at the Industrial Gallery inside Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery during opening hours on Sunday 9 October.

Film Running Time: 35.58

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