It was on Victoria Street near Edward and up a couple of flights of stairs. I think it was called the Club before it became the Electric Ballroom. It was a big space and an excellent venue and even though it was unlicensed to me it had a similar feel to Christchurch’s Gladstone.
The first gig I remember going to there was a “battle of the bands” in late 1980 that ended with one of the judges getting death threats from some local punks who thought it was rigged and their band should have won. The scene around those Wellington punk/garage bands was pretty intense and their followers were staunch.
Quite a few international acts played there – John Cale, The Residents, Snakefinger, Townes van Zandt, the Go-Betweens and I remember a Fetus Productions gig that was next level rock horror theatre.
When the Skeptics and half the Gordons moved to town they rented part of the building as a work space and Writhe recording studio began there. Exciting times and those guys brought a new energy to the city. When a property developer bought the building they also had to buy the boys out of their lease for a tidy sum that allowed them to set up with equipment for their next location on Vivian Street. Then the building was pulled down to make way for a hotel.
I played a few solo support gigs there over the years and after I formed the Spines we had some great nights in that place – I think we launched our album the Moon there. My memories are a bit vague of the Electric Ballroom and so I’ve asked a few people for their thoughts and special thanks to Peter Aagaard for the photos…
Stu Brown – The Residents, “seated” gig, Fetus Productions, Jed Town spitting fake blood, no liquor license, Edward Street…
Andrew Cross – Loved the Electric Ballroom. Great feel. Saw the Residents there and the Hulamen played one of their best ever gigs
David Cohen – I saw John Cale there as well as the Go-Betweens. Both times with Gary Steel. At the latter show, a heavily pregnant young woman removed her clothing while dancing to, I think, Bachelor Kisses.
Gary Steel – I don’t remember a thing about the Go-Betweens show. My only memory of the Cale show is being thrown down those long, long stairs by an angry ex. I do remember The Residents, however. How could one ever forget such an extraordinary invocation? Sitting on the floor like fucking hippies, mouths agape.
Janet Gudmun – Yep, saw John Cale there in 86 (Sept-Oct?) just brilliant and awe-inspiring. Played there once as well in a 3-4 month old band kind of proto-Americana alt-country-blues. Saw The Residents there (eyeballs, tuxedos) up next to the stage & PA, very drunk & determined to go nowhere. Sweaty. I think the Skeptics (Halvorsen era) rooms/practice rooms were next door in the adjacent building until Michael Fowler? or Renouf?, one of the Welly property magnates, bought them out of their lease so he could demolish the building… & build the monstrosity that replaced it. …. which would make it about 1987-88 demolition I think.