Can you remember your first experience of dancing?
Aside from school-era disco and slow dances and the occasional breakdancing burn (we had our own ‘crew’ but were really too young to be serious), the first moment to stay in the memory is of someone’s birthday party in a village hall nr Farnham, Surrey, where I went to school. It was standard fare until the two Inner City tracks of the time – Big Fun and Good Life – were aired and enjoyed so much that they were, er, rewound several times. All the rave-like expressive hand and arm motions were employed.
What’s the most interesting/significant thing that has happened to you while out dancing?
Nothing really stands out other than the usual catalogue of uncanny-then but sketchy-now moments. I’ve always been someone to get 'locked into' the dance, riding the ebb and flow, and no doubt critiquing the dj’s performance in my head, a complement to the whoops and come-ons around me. I’m also someone who instinctively migrates to the back of the dance rather than the front.
What’s the best place you’ve ever danced in?
Probably the Glastonbury car park at dawn with my mates in 2000. After three heavy nights with my mates, set and setting combined and Squarepusher never sounded more appropriate.
You. Dancing. The best of times…
Never really found a parallel to the hardcore scene for a year and a half from 1991-92. Not every event can be characterised by brilliant highs, but the expectation building up to events and the buzz at them are hard to recapture, not least because I would never have that youthful zeal again. In fact, I was known to dance so enthusiastically during these times that one or two associates were known to take the piss out of my full-cycle motions!
Ironically, the best collective moment through dancing was not music-related as such, but came when I was celebrating my team City get promoted in 2000. The outside lobby of the central Manchester hotel the players were at was a sea of blues, dancing and chanting to a City mantra until it was genuinely ‘tribal’ in nature, disconnected from place or time. Sean ‘Feed the’ Goater came and saw us and it was all good thereafter. Like carnival but more extreme.
You. Dancing. The worst of times…Any time where circumstances and habits compel you to drink too much before the main club action, or when someone says something at the wrong time, exploding paranoia and putting me right off the rhythm. It’s happened a few times.
Can you give a quick tour of the different dancing scenes/times/places you’ve frequented?
Though I’d been listening to rave pretty much since it went overground, the first serious dancing was via the aforementioned hardcore rave scene. During this time, there would also be the occasional mosh-out to whatever noise-rock we liked that week. One of my mates once ended up in first aid due to getting caught up in the moshpit at a Ride gig at the Kentish Town T&C; I ended up in Dorset.
The rave places included sanitised home counties venues like the Park Prewett Mental Hospital in Basingstoke, Farnborough Recreation Centre, Reading Rivermead Centre, as well as in lots of fields round Surrey or Hampshire and London venues such as Labryinth, the Lazerdrome in Peckham and the Tasco Warehouse in Plumstead. Nights included Evolution, Yikes!, Zen, Desire, Innersense and loads more cheesy-sounding names.
From late 1992 I went to Leeds university, and there was a self-imposed hiatus from the harder side of dance music where narcotics might be required. It was broken only by acid jazz/latin/funk nights, where I learned to express myself in different ways with alcohol as an accompaniment, or the occasional house/techno shindig in one of the city’s “clubs of the year” (Vague, @ the Warehouse, Back to Basics/Up Yer Ronson at the Music Factory, the Orbit in Morley).
On return from Leeds, there was another lull as Britpop dominated before I moved to London in late 1996, where eventually there were enough connections to start going out dancing again, mainly to ‘deep’ house (Rob Mello, Kenny Hawkes and co), jungle (in a scene increasingly ruled by techsteppers like Ed Rush) and electro, with the occasional hip-hop gig. During these times up to the commitment of raising a family last year, I probably got closest to where my mind needed to be for continued dancing, rather than hanging around jerking on the periphery. The house scene around London was the mainstay, at nights like Wednesday’s Space @ Bar Rhumba and Derrick Carter’s bimonthlies at the End, with the occasional label-related do in warehouses around Hackney. That contributed a lot to the more digital/synthy side of house now. Also, all my flatshares had decks as the main entertainment focus so there could be long nights dancing at home.
When and where did you last dance?
At the party after the screening of the McClintock Factor.
You’re on your death bed. What piece of music would make your leap up for one final dance?
Too many to mention – so I’ll pick a few faves from some of the highlighted genres. Derrick May/It is What it Is; Joey Beltram/Energy Flash; Nookie/Love Is; DJ Krust/Warhead; Gang Starr/Dwyck; Technasia/Technasia; Isolee – Beau Mot Plage/, etc, etc.
Desire flyer reproduced from the amazing collection at Hardcore U Know the Score