Drama, dance and all forms of visual art course through its veins, but ever since it opened more than 40 years ago the beating heart of Lighthouse has kept time to the rhythm of bass, guitar and drum.
In celebration of the part popular music has played in its rich history and in the lives of generations of its audiences, Lighthouse has commissioned Dorset-based artist Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre – who won last weekend’s CoronaVision 2020 song contest – to write a song about it.
The song, ‘And the Floor Bounced’, performed by The Lockdown Band – Lorna, husband Adam and children Dylan and Rufus – can be seen on social media channels and at lighthousepoole.co.uk.
“It is such a privilege to be asked to write this song,” says Lorna, whose first stage performance was at the age of ten at Lighthouse in the children’s cast for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
“Lighthouse has been a constant in my life – I was born a few months after it opened in 1978 we used to visit throughout my childhood. My parents took me there to see Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and it felt like a life changing moment.
“As an artist I’ve worked with Lighthouse on lots of projects in recent years and my husband got his first job there after leaving school, in the technical team, so we have this very powerful connection.”
Seeking further inspiration Lorna took to social media to appeal for people’s memories of gigs at Lighthouse and, before that, Poole Arts Centre.
“I was thrilled at the response, it was overwhelming. I had hundreds of replies, many of them mentioned the bouncy floor and lots of them came with little stories about who they went to the gigs with, what happened, how they felt, it’s incredible. I have learned such a lot not only about who has played at Lighthouse over the years, but how important those gigs have been in people’s lives.
“Music is a powerful force and memories associated with it last a lifetime, that is why the song has to be about the audiences and their experience. It’s about the experience of going to a gig at Lighthouse and how that can change your life.”
Lorna has included many of those who contributed in the video for ‘And the Floor Bounced’ and their stories will form part of the venue’s archive.
Although the curtain is down on all shows at Lighthouse for the time being, in the interval enforced by coronavirus Poole’s centre for the arts is staying in touch with its audiences by curating creative content online and commissioning new work from its associated local artists.
“Lorna is one of many local artists whose work we admire and seeing the fabulous videos she and the Lockdown Band are making inspired us to commission a new song and video,” explains Lighthouse Chief Executive Elspeth McBain.
“We wanted to find a unique way to celebrate what has been the most defining part of Lighthouse over the years – the extraordinary bands that have performed in the Concert Hall – and as a reference to what we miss during the closure of the venue.
“Anyone who has been to a gig here over the years and experienced the unique phenomenon of the Concert Hall floor actually bouncing when everyone dances on it will particularly appreciate the song. It’s a real community memory and we can’t wait until we can reopen and offer the much-needed opportunity for collective socialisation as the final part of our recovery from this time.”
Like many artists Lorna Rees saw her work completely dry up as the country went into lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been devastating,” she says. “Last year my husband gave up his teaching job to work in the company with me, so we saw our family income completely disappear overnight.
“The commission from Lighthouse, as important as it is in terms of earnings, is actually more valuable as a show of moral solidarity for artists at this time. Lighthouse and other arts organisations and artists in this area have been absolutely amazing.
“I’m a theatre-maker so I have to create and that moment where we stop each day and get out the instruments is a total joy. That is where The Lockdown Band came from. I’m in the house with these creative people who happen to be my husband and children so of course it seemed sensible to form a band. We’re quite wonky as bands go (our youngest is just 12) but we’re definitely getting tighter during lockdown.”
The Lockdown Band post songs on social media and their blog Silly Songs For Serious Times including a version of the Kim Wilde hit ‘Kids In America’ that went viral with 34,000 views on Twitter.
“Kim’s brother Ricky who wrote the song liked us on Twitter – that was a thrill if I’m honest!”