The Children of the Night is an immersive art experience soaked in fascinating Doncaster history
Doncaster had a huge rave scene in the 1990s and an ambitious art project encapsulates the culture in a truly immersive way.
I visited the Children of the Night experience on Saturday, August 7.
The team who created this project somehow made a Covid-19 safe nightclubbing experience that filled me with a ridiculous amount of joy.
It was tucked away at the back of the busy Wool Market - when I walked up there was a dark room with a bouncer guarding the door.
He was played by the wonderful Sam Dunstan who stayed in character the entire time.
He made the experience feel twice as real as he really gave off the mildly aggressive and fear inducing energy that night club bouncers emit.
I have so many memories of feeling small in front of such men waiting in line and his performance hit the spot from the second I walked into the experience.
When the bouncer opened the door there was a small room filled with bright colourful lights.
Including an iconic disco ball in the corner which I couldn’t resist taking a video of for social media.
I was given a set of headphones by the team before I entered which instantly began booming out 90’s tunes.
If you have ever been to a silent disco it was very similar - you can control the volume of the music and it completely cuts you off from the rest of the world.
Children of the Night is an immersive experience that is a combination of popular nineties tracks and a wonderful story about nightclubbing culture here in Doncaster.
I wasn’t aware before this project that there was such a big rave scene in the town during the 90’s but the short ten minute show taught me so much about the history.
Did you know that Biscuit Billy’s got its name because the landlord was also a market trader who sold biscuits?
I’ve lived in Doncaster my whole life and frequented that pub several times and I never would have known that.
Despite the fact that I was a toddler in the 90s I still really enjoyed all of the references packed into this show.
I knew all the music and was familiar with the pubs and clubs from older family members who frequented them during the era.
But my absolute favourite thing about this experience was that the accents were true to the Doncaster native tongue.
I can’t think of another art show where my own accent has not only been used but emphasised and celebrated.
Every character in the show has a wonderfully broad, strong Donny tone and it made me really happy to hear familiar slang words.
The performance follows Lindsey, a 16 year old who is heading out to Silver Street to visit the infamous Charisma.
She meets plenty of characters along the way from creepy men waiting in line to the DJ who is curating the music.
It was very true to a real night out in Doncaster all that was missing was the sticky carpet, smell of cigarettes and of course the cheesy chips to soak up the booze.
The ten minutes flew by and I jumped when the bouncer opened the door and told us to leave.
I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was because it didn’t feel like an art installation.
I didn’t need to swat up on any pretentious material to understand the concept and I didn’t leave confused.
Art isn’t always easy to understand but I think this show could be enjoyed by anyone from any background.
There was something great about being transported from the very normal bright daylight of the Wool Market to a whole different environment.
It was easy to forget where you were and lose yourself in the narrative.
The Children of the Night event also had the advantage that it was taking place on the same weekend as Doncaster Pride and Art Bomb.
The town centre was alive with people celebrating culture with rainbow flags, glitter and happy faces everywhere you went.
It was truly a great sight to see after the gloom of the pandemic.
I don’t think that Doncaster has felt that thrum of energy since last March.
Art Bomb brought in nationally celebrated artists who spoke on important topics such as race, eating disorders and the politics of art.
They held an exhibition at the Unitarian Church which I visited after the Children of the Night show.
Doncaster Pride brought music in eight different venues spread out across the town and a sense of celebration.
It was a Saturday filled with art which is not something I have seen in Doncaster for quite some time.
The team who put Children of the Night together were Danielle Phillips, Sam Dunstan, Lauren Townsend, Emily Compton, Broccan Tyzack-Carlin and Joe Bunce.
It was supported by Right Up Our Street and Doncaster New Fringe as part of Art Bomb - an arts festival that took place during the weekend.
The team wants to create a full blown theatre experience from this concept if they can gain funding from the Arts Council.
I for one will be first in line for a ticket if they are successful.
After experiencing the show I really want to know more about the history of the rave scene in Doncaster and I hope the team gets to tell more of Lindsey's story.