10.03 The Jugglers Arms: March to August 1993

By the end of 1992 the illegal 'Raves' or warehouse dance parties had already passed the height of their popularity. The Exploding Cinema was a refreshing change from the warehouse party, with a larger more visible crew and even a reaction to that scene's lack of content or overt political direction. The Alternative Comedy scene had also lost much of its initial excitement as many of the early performers began to be offered their own TV shows. Donal Ruane thought that rave and Super 8 screening events were incompatible[1].

After a foray outside of London to do a show in a caf“ in Southampton on the 13th of February, a new larger venue had been found in London to accommodate the rapid expansion of Exploding. This was a cavernous ground floor pub room in an old pub called the Jugglers Arms. It is situated in an old industrial area of SE1 quite close to Borough tube or London Bridge.  The events in the new venue were high-energy events with audiences of 200 to 300 people run by a collective of 10 to 20 people. T-shirts were produced and there were side stalls.

The first show was planned for the 20th March 1993. There were performances by Jane Bombane and Hermine. The programme is notable for a lively rant entitled, 'Fuck the Future... We want the present'. [2] (See Illustration 16)

An undated meeting after 20th March reports on this first show at the Jugglers: Jennet was the MC again, she complained of needing more backup and wanting to be kept better informed. It seems that there were gaps in the programme. The need to start on time was stressed and Danny made the point that there is 'a fine line between fun and sloppiness.[3] The food was good and generally people had a good time.

The second Jugglers show on 3rd April had a programme cover, which declared; 'It's exploding time again, Jumping over barriers of taste',

There is a meeting the next day that reports on the show: 'We rely on Ron too much' for leads and sound. Ron Briefl worked at Morley College as a sound technician.

In a meeting on 25th April a proposal for a guest list for performers and filmmakers was discussed. There was a vote of 14:1 against filmmakers or collective members paying. In any ambiguous situation the host was delegated to decide.[4]

The fourth show on the 1st of May had AVI, Active Visual Intervention, the billboard montagists, showing slides and talking about their work and a performance by Ian Hinchliffe, the notorious performance artist.[5]

In the minutes of a meeting on 5th May Suzanne pointed out the need for more women's work.[6] There is talk of plans to travel to Dublin, Holland and Berlin, which indicates the extent of the Exploding network at this time.

Putting on regular shows of this size was certainly tiring. However the Jugglers audience produced a healthy financial situation allowing the purchase of a range of equipment.

A report on the show on 26th June: 'Pissed off with Jugglers, can't use phone, trouble with power' (Suzanne). Generally the feedback was good but the show did not run smoothly. Planning begins for a monster event at the Brockwell Park Lido in August.[7]

In spite of the problems voiced above the run of shows at the Jugglers came to an end because of the pubs licensing problems, and a show after the Lido show in August is the last show there.

Although the series at the Jugglers showed the mass appeal of the Exploding Cinema format, this success also brought problems for a non-profit collective. What is fun to do for a network of friends can get to be tedious and stressful for a larger crowd of strangers.

On a more positive note Duncan observed:

The Exploding Cinema are showing films in a way that hasn't happened since the 1960's - large, regular audience - diverse, populist.[8]

The audiences at the Jugglers were regular and large. The Exploding Cinema had already become a unique and well-known event in London underground culture.




[1] Loo How's 'How to Be a Successful Spectator', (RCA London, 1994) A documentary  on Exploding Cinema.


[2]  IP 20-3-93 p14


[3]  Minute Book 1 p105 (Undated meeting after 20-3-94)


[4]  This arrangement has continued to date and has not seemed to threaten the financial balance.


[5]  See Chapter 11, Section F for more detail on Ian Hinchliffe


[6] See the content analysis in a previous chapter, which shows women filmmakers are about one-third the total.


[7] Minutes of 27-6-93


[8] Minutes of 6-6-93