KOKO History

KOKO has enjoyed a vast and colourful past documented by the venerable Wikipedia in an excellent entry which you can read here.

As for the history of the venue in our own words; read on...

KOKO began life as The Camden Theatre and was opened on Boxing Day 1900 by the famous actress Ellen Terry, with a seating capacity of 1600. In 1909 the theatre was renamed The Camden Hippodrome and was a variety theatre where famous names such as Charlie Chaplin appeared. In 1911 film seasons began and it became a proper cinema in 1913.

Live acts were still used to support films – in 1928 ‘Novelty Nights’ were introduced on Fridays with up to seven live acts appearing before the film. In 1933 the cinema was wired for sound and free Christmas performances were given to the local children. The cinema closed in 1940 and for some 20 years from 1945 the building became a BBC Theatre and shows included the famous Goon Show.

In 1970 the venue was reincarnated as The Music Machine and provided a platform for the first wave punk bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Subsequently purchased by Steve Strange and Rusty Egan of Visage in 1983 the Camden Palace was born – the venue then holding court to the leading figures of The New Romantic scene and in the process hosting the earliest gigs of the Eurythmics and the first UK performance by a rising star known as Madonna. Not forgetting, of course, those Nutty boys of Camden Town – Madness.

The Camden Palace continued to move with the times and in the 90’s was home to a series of dance nights. It closed in February 2004 in much need of someone to put some love and care into a refurbishment – and this is where we came in!

A six month, multi million restoration project was undertaken to a the singular brief of creating a 21st Century entertainment venue from what was left of the glorious 19th Century building.

Other related links:

Refurbishment Gallery
Those who’ve played KOKO live


Koko Live Posters