The Dream of Dorich House

An unforgettable night in the 1990s saw Amy Schofield find herself at a rave at Dorich House. Here she recounts memories of that incredible event.

It was as if I was in a dream – I don’t remember how I got there or why I was there. But I always loved a party and this was one of those random raves that had punctuated my youth since the age of 17. We had no mobile phones, no messaging, but we always knew where to be and when. You’d find yourself somewhere having the best night of your life, talking to strangers, exploding with love for your friends, dancing and dancing as if you would never stop. That night, I found myself walking up to Dorich House. It was imposing. Industrial. Incongruous. I’d been living in Kingston as a student for around two years but I didn’t know this place existed, didn’t know what it was called, who had built it, who had lived there or why. The sight of it looming out of the darkness seared itself on my memory.

Then I was inside a vast room with ceiling-high windows, amongst a crowd of people, where the bass pumped and a DJ commanded the crowd who were flanked by eerie life-size statues on a stage, their curves and frozen features lit by vivid strobe lights. The faces of perfect strangers and exquisite sculptures, silhouetted against the lights, the lofty windows draped with cobwebs and makeshift curtains. The stage created the feeling of a tableau, where these strange effigies stood silent and still, ageless but age-old, overseeing the sea of constantly moving youth, creating a new movement, right in front of them. We were caught in a moment in time, with no past and no future, never questioning, just grabbing each second, wringing it out and storing the joy in some hidden place to be secretly pulled out and fed upon in more sedate, steady days.

There was no interference from the crowd with those sculptures as we rose and fell to the music. There was a respect for them, an unspoken consensus that they were to be left alone, admired, taken in as silent inhabitants who had been there long before we came, and would be there long after.

Hours of dancing later, I found myself on the roof terrace, exhausted and blissful, gazing out over Richmond Park as the sun began to rise. I knew I’d remember this night forever, that one day I might find out more, that the mystery of the house, the statues, the sculptures, why it had all been abandoned, why we were here joyfully occupying this space for a few privileged hours, would be made clear to me. And here I am.

Thank you for an incredible night Dora. It was a pleasure and a privilege.

Amy Schofield

Published as part of the project The Squatter Years: Recovering Dorich House Museum’s Recent Past, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, February 2021.

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