Chameleon has been a landmark venue since it first opened as Mr. B's Discotheque in the mid-80s. The venue subsequently underwent many iterations and corporate ownership changes before falling into demise following the collapse of CanDu Entertainment three and a half years ago.

As a result, enterprising local entrepreneur Dick De Vigne (whose eponymous 500-capacity Dick De Vigne's nightclub is the lynch-pin of the burgeoning Warrior Square scene nearby), snapped up Chameleon on Lucy Road from the receivers.

Not only does Lucy Road provide the traditional nightlife heartbeat of Southend but De Vigne also owned this place previously (first as Discotheque Buzz and later as Adlib). Mike Glover, on entering this derelict building which had been closed for several years, was tasked not only with providing his customary sound and vision flair, but also with a complete turnkey interior design.

Once the owner had decided to retain the Chameleon trading name, Glover's team, who began the fit out back in April, could see all kinds of possibilities for extrapolating the theme, largely by deploying 105 Tryka RGB MR16 colour changing downlighters around the edge of the circular venue.

He also customised the design with an inspired LED centrepiece feature, and provided bespoke graphics for a large 6m edge-blended widescreen videowall which also doubles as a stage backdrop. This is front projected onto via three Mitsubishi short-throw devices in 4:3 aspect ratio, sound animated, and driven from a separate media server running Oxtron software. Around the club perimeter ten strategically-placed 42" Panasonic plasma relay screens ensure that no-one is far from a visual stimulus.

With an art-deco inspired VIP bar overlooking the circular dancefloor (which can be partitioned off using bi-folding doors) the possibilities are endless for this 1100-capacity venue, which cost around £750,000 to develop.

The dancefloor lighting is suspended from a conventional circular overhead truss (mimicking the floor geometric) bearing industry standard fixtures. These include 10 Martin Professional MX-10s and four Martin Pro Wizard Extremes - each providing fast-action scanning from 250W discharge lamps - along with four Martin Atomic 3000 strobes. With a multicolour laser adding to the armoury the LJ certainly has enough weapons at his disposal - particularly with six Studio Due Shark 250 moving heads providing atmosphere around the dancefloor periphery and 12 IP-67 rated Studio Due Archibar 150 LED battens colour washing the building exterior.

Glover has provided a ShowCad Artist (and MIDI keyboard), which runs the whole production, interfaced with a Green Hippo Hippotizer V2 media server running its own DMX universe. This is joined by an Edirol V-4 four-channel video mixer and Edirol MIDI keyboard.

A 1.5m diameter video ball is set in front of a Barrisol stretch ceiling over the centre of the dancefloor. And adding yet further dimension above the Barrisol are eight custom-made RGB colour-changing Star lights.

For the sound reinforcement Mike Glover has chosen a KV2 Audio solution playing out the source material derived from industry standard Pioneer DVJ-1000s and Allen & Heath Xone:62 mixer.

Around the dancefloor periphery are four potent three-way active ES1.0s, with four ES1.8 single 18" subs providing LF extension, and four further ES2.5 (2 x 15") recessed under the stage at the far end of the club. Eleven KV2 EX10 compact two-way speakers fill in any coverage gaps so there is no hotspotting, and six Crown-powered KV2 ESD 10s relay sound to the VIP room. The KV2 system will provide more than sufficient coverage when the venue starts to promote live acts.

The system is delayed and EQ'd in a Soundweb London BLU-80 DSP environment, configured with 12 outputs and four inputs, while behind the bar there is a Soundweb BLU-3 wall panel for local level control.

Other design features include edge-lighting the underside of four bars (including one main feature bar and two corner bars in the belly of the club) with LED RGB flexitape, and also highlighting the glass bar tops.

Summing up, Dick De Vigne remembers: "This was really just a black hole when we took it over - like an old grey battleship. Originally, we were just going to redecorate it - but then it evolved."

 

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