02 Apr 2018
We find out about Dexy's, DJs and the Orange Rooms ghost!
Welcome to the latest instalment of INSIDE, the series that goes behind-the-scenes at your favourite UK venues. This time around we’re in Southampton’s Orange Rooms, the cocktail bar ‘tucked away’ on Vernon Walk, finding out what makes the management tick, and what they’ve got in store for the club’s upcoming 17th birthday.
Taking us on our tour is Deputy Manager Reiss Stanford, who deals with promotions and marketing, and runs Fiesta Loca here every Wednesday night, “the biggest international party in the South Coast.”
Tell us a little bit about Orange Rooms.
Reiss: Well, we’re turning 17 at the end of April, which makes us the longest running cocktail bar in Southampton. At night we turn into a venue, so we go from 4pm until 3am every day. As a brand we’re very exciting, we’re probably the only venue in Southampton that would dare to do the events we do - because they’re all very niche. We’ve hosted jelly wrestling and silly string parties. Who puts a ball pit in a night club? We do! We've got Dexys Midnight Runners here soon, aswell as Mel Blatt from All Saints. It’s all very tongue and cheek and different. The venue is very quirky, and each level is themed, too. There’s different areas that represent different parts of the world. It’s definitely something special. We try and provide an experience that’s not available anywhere else in Southampton.
Check out the details for Dexy's here!
Who’s involved in running Orange Rooms?
Reiss: There’s a management team of five legends here, but our directors are also very hands on and down with the kids... they like to think! We’re an independent venue, therefore we have a lot of freedom with this brand, and because of what it represents, we can do just about anything really. No idea is too outrageous, we love thinking outside the box!
The five of us are all managers of the venue, I look after promotions and marketing, and the others oversee the bar, mixology, party planning, back of house and operations. Being such a versitile cocktail bar, we have people making up new ideas all the time - it never ends to be honest.
What sets Orange Rooms apart from other venues in Southampton?
Reiss: There’s so much going on in Southampton for such a small place, but there’s so many different sides to Orange Rooms. We’re a venue, we’ll have DJs on til late, there’s loads of different areas - so you can go and have a quiet drink with somebody upstairs in tiki or you can go and party downstairs. I think that’s what sets us apart. It’s just very chic as well. We've got a level of class, but it’s still slick and sexy. It’s a cool brand, man. And we’ve been here for 17 years, so we must be doing something right.
How many of those years have you been involved?
Reiss: I’ve been here for 4 years and it’s exhilarating. No two days are the same… Full of ups and downs. We’ve done some amazing things in that time, from serving cocktails 100ft in the air on a crane to hosting large scale events with up to 2500 punters... We had DJ Lord from Public Enemy play here a few years ago, that was literally the most amazing thing I've ever seen. He still texts me on my birthday, we're tight haha. I’m a promotor myself as well, so watching our brands grow into household names is great and so rewarding.
How do you decide which acts you’re going to book?
Reiss: There’s a lot of us involved when it comes to deciding, but I would definitely say we choose the artists based on what we think the people of Southampton want. But we still try and give an offering that no one else can provide. All of our bookings are a little bit off the cuff, a little bit weird. We want them to be only at Orange Rooms and be something that sets us apart from the rest.
Which artists would you love to see play here?
Reiss: To be fair, over the years, we’ve had a lot of people play here. Some people who are massive now, like Annie Mac, Groove Armada, David Rodigan… They’ve all played here already. We had Russell Brand perform here in the noughties, so we’ve had big-ass names. Now I’d rather go for weird stuff. I’m trying to sort out a night with Ainsley Harriet. I think that would be sick - I'm a massive fan!
You recently renovated Room Service, one of your bars, have you got any other big changes planned for the future?
Reiss: Yeah we’re currently renovating Room Service. We’re doing Tiki, too. We've recently refurbished the main floor. As for the future, we’ve got a lot going on mate - always got a lot going on here. We’ve got new nights starting next term. Just keep your eyes peeled. BIG THINGS TO COME!
What upcoming events are you most excited for?
Reiss: Our 17th birthday on the 27th April! We’ve booked Dexy's Midnight Runners' Kevin Rowland, so it’s gonna be bloody amazing. We always go all out on our birthdays. We’ll have ball pits, we’re gonna have a real ice cream van in here - so much is gonna be going on. We’ve got a casino upstairs, the lot. That’s the one to look out for. There's no party like an Orange Rooms' Birthday Party, I can't wait until she turns 18 next year!
Can you tell us anything about Orange Rooms that people won’t know already?
Reiss: What do you want, like a secret? That’s a good one. A secret about the venue… Well it’s haunted. So yeah, there’s a ghost. Sounds really weird, but it still scares the heebie jeebies out of me on a daily basis. There is a ghost, we’ve had it all looked up and everything. We’ve had people in here check it out because it messes with loads of things. We completely turned off all the hand dryers and stuff one time, removed all the fuses and they still went off. It’s weird. So yeah, we’re haunted.
Finally, what are you listening to right now?
Reiss: Personally I listen to everything really. House, drum and bass, metal… I found a Rammstein drum and bass remix last night that was brutal, but I'm also a massive fan of ABBA, Lionel Richie and Dolly Parton. I'm unpredictable.