Today Foxtel broke the bad news: they’re axing Channel V, ending the TV favourite’s 20-year history after a slump in audience figures.
And what better way to pay tribute to a fallen icon than by revisiting one of its best-loved shows? Every week in the early 2000s Channel V hosted Room 208, the on-air dance party that was Boiler Room before Boiler Room existed.
From 6pm on Saturday nights, teenagers would arrive at Fox Studios in droves for their chance to cut shapes on live television. For two hours, hosts Mike Kerry and drag queen Clair De Lune would preside over the dance-off, interviewing the dancers present – who usually came bearing fake names, as though that somehow granted them anonymity on national television – and awarding the most original dancer a $1000 cash prize.
The best bit? As many as 250,000 viewers would tune in every week to watch teens bust out moves like the”shuffle pop yo-yo champion”, making Room 208 one of Channel V’s top-rating programs at the time.
Room 208 even became a destination for touring DJs, with the likes of Mark Dynamix stopping by to play sets.
It was also a total sweatbox – producers would cram 80 people into a tiny room, turn off the air con and blast the music. “The body odour is so bad that staff spray the audience with deodorant, much like flight attendants spray international aircraft cabins with pesticide before landing in Australia,” the Sydney Morning Herald observed in 2003. “This must be a TV first.”
Naturally, it held a special – if lovingly ridiculed – place in heart of dance fans. “We make it a bit of a tradition and get smashed watching 208 then walk to the local club,” one inthemix forum user wrote in 2002. “It would be good if I could blank out the screen, edit the show so the talking isn’t heard… and just have the music playing.”