A venue with ties to many different segments of South Australia's arts community, Rhino Room is one of a handful of Adelaide venues to successfully relocate following the demolition of its original home.
Rhino Room first began operating in 1998, from a two storey building at 13 Frome Street dating to the 1850s. It opened as a companion to Urban Cow Studio, a gallery and retail space which since 1994 has exhibited and sold a variety of work by local artists including iconic Adelaide creations like the famous “Heaps Good” t shirt. A later addition came in the form of café and gin bar The Howling Owl in 2012.
Over the next 18 years Rhino Room would become best known as a comedy venue, helping generations of prominent Australian comedians including Adam Hills and Hannah Gadsby cut their teeth while becoming a hotspot for touring comedians during the Adelaide Fringe.
It is also a notable music venue, particularly amongst the hip hop scene of the early 2000s. Some of the earliest performances by the Hilltop Hoods, the Blackwood-raised trio often labelled Australia's biggest hip hop act, were held in its first floor band room. Rhino Room would also host a diverse range of genres and artists from local bands to emerging interstate touring acts.
Rhino Room, Howling Owl and Urban Cow Studio were all forced to relocate in 2016 when the block of land housing the building alongside Eckersley’s Art & Craft was sold by the University of Adelaide. The building itself was demolished in July 2017 to make way for a high rise accommodation.
With the help of a high profile crowdfunding campaign, the Rhino Room was able to migrate to a new Pirie Street location above fellow music venue Bluebee Room, with the Howling Owl and Urban Cow shifting across to the Cinema Place precinct off Rundle Street.
In 2017, Rhino Room's owners commissioned street artist Mike "Makatron" Maka to create a colourful new mural on the exterior of the new building. Maka was the artist behind the rhinoceros mural which helped make the original site such a distinctive feature of the East End.
His new work offers another tangible connection between the past and the future of this much-loved venue. At its new home the Rhino Room continues to host both live music and comedy today.