UK’s biggest immersive VR experience to launch in Birmingham

07 June 2024

“We were there. We were there. Back in 1989. It’s so emotional. An experience that is second to none.” Jeff Parris, aka Man Parris (Acid House legend)

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning interactive VR adventure that transports you into the heart of the Acid House movement is heading on a national tour opening at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 19 July 2024. 

The VR experience, produced by East City Films and created by Darren Emerson, will visit eight cities across the UK with Birmingham opening the tour.  The tour is jointly supported by Arts Council England and BFI National Lottery Audience Projects Fund.

The experience will take audiences back in time to the beginning of the Acid House movement and the creation of UK rave culture telling a multicultural story of collaboration and unity that celebrates music, friendship, and the joy of youth.

The experience of tracking down and arriving at an all-night illegal warehouse party at the height of the rave scene in Coventry, 1989 puts audiences into the shoes of rave culture pioneers.  Viewers are taken on a multi-sensory joyride into the past, bringing to life the stories of the promoters, police officers, pirate radio stations, and secret warehouse rave-goers, whose rivalries and relationships drove a revolution in music and society.  The film features euphoric rave anthems such as Chime by Orbital and Energy Flash by Joey Beltram. 

‘Beats uses Virtual Reality (VR) technology to fully immerse audiences in a one-hour multi-sensory interactive experience that is awash with meticulous period detail. It surrounds participants with the sounds, senses, and the thrill of being young (again).  

‘Beats was produced with the support of the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, and Coventry City of Culture Trust. Following its world premiere and sell-out run as part of the 2022 Coventry UK City of Culture, ‘Beats travelled on the international festival circuit and was seen by audiences across the globe at festivals such as BFI London Film Festival, South by Southwest Festival, Austin; Melbourne International Film Festival; IDFA Amsterdam and Geneva International Film Festival.

‘Beats has won four high-profile VR awards including the Location-Based VR Entertainment of the Year at the VR Awards 2023, the DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction at IDFA 2022, the Anidox: VR Award at the Viborg Animation Festival 2023, followed by winning the Best Film & Digital: Interactive Award at Adelaide Fringe in 2024.

Returning to the UK for its homecoming tour, ‘Beats launches at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 19 July until 1 September 2024.

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats has been created with extensive involvement of some of the leading figures of the Midlands rave scene at the time, including Coventry’s legendary promoters Amnesia House.

Following the VR experience there will be a dedicated display containing archive, flyers, posters, photography, and objects exploring the local rave scene connected to the venue’s city.

The creative team behind ‘Beats spent time making the experience fully accessible to wheelchair users with a seated version and d/Deaf audiences with subtitles, Haptics (vibration), Access Packs, VR Explainer and scene descriptions and Touch Tour.

To further enhance the experience, East City Films has partnered with Woojer. Woojer’s innovative haptic vests will add to the multi-sensory journey, immersing users in a vibrant auditory landscape and enhancing accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community. This collaboration aims to deliver an inclusive experience that resonates deeply with all audiences.

Tickets will go on sale on6 June for In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery HERE

Director Darren Emerson, East City Films said:

“With In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats I wanted to take audiences back to a moment where a community formed from their passion for music, dance and freedom of expression.  In a modern society where we are constantly monitored, and tracked by devices, this experience, although using technology, seeks to reunite audiences with the thrill of freedom and those important, crazy nights where we not only find our friends, but truly find ourselves.

The response to ‘Beats has been overwhelming; seeing people emerge from VR moved and excited and wanting to connect with each other has been so rewarding.  After success touring Internationally, I’m delighted we are now bringing ‘Beats back to the UK, to connect with the audiences that were shaped in some way by the cultural revolution that was Acid House.  For us to start the tour in the West Midlands is a particularly special homecoming.”

Sarah-Jane Meredith, Manager, UK Wide Audiences at the BFI said: 

“We are proud to support this highly creative multi-sensory VR experience and particularly the team’s commitment to ensuring events are as accessible as possible. ‘Beats has the potential to reach a wide range of audiences right across the UK, including many who may not have engaged with VR. As well as thrilling new audiences, the project sets out to create a legacy at participating venues, as their staff will be better skilled and equipped to showcase other VR work in the future. All of which chimes with the ambition set out in our current strategy, Screen Culture 2033, to support the evolution of broader screen work in the UK.”

Sara Wajid, Co-CEO, Birmingham Museums Trust said:

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is simply one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. I knew after trying the experience and the amount of joy I felt that we had to be a part of bringing this experience to the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands.”

Sara continued: “Bringing joy, music and history together in the Waterhall marks the next exciting step in re-opening Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – the first spaces of which will open later this year.”