Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ASBO for pirate radio operator

'A man has been banned from every roof top in London after pleading guilty to installing illegal pirate radio equipment on a tower block in Camden. Working with Camden Council and the police, Ofcom successfully prosecuted Kieran O’Sullivan who received an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO). O’Sullivan also received a suspended 18 week custodial sentence, a three month curfew, a £1,200 fine and had his radio equipment seized. This followed complaints from residents about pirate radio equipment being fixed to roof tops on the Chalcots estate in Belsize' (24dash.com, 28 September 2009).

Shame - anyone know what station was involved?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rave magazine, 1960s

Paul Jones on the cover, 1967 + 'Fantastic Rave Offer: Boyfriends by Computer' (years ahead of its time) + 'Dolly clothes for dolly birds'
Rave was an English pop magazine started in 1964. As Jon Savage describes in a recent Observer article on '60s pop zines, Rave 'was five times as expensive as the weekly music papers, but in return you got an 80-page or so A4-size monthly, with excellent quality paper, meaty content and great photographs - by Jean Marie Perier, Terry O'Neill, Marc Sharratt and others... Rave went further and deeper with articles about Stuart Sutcliffe, the lost Beatle, a fashion round table with John Stephen and the Pretty Things, and notices about up-and-coming groups such as the Yardbirds. Photo shoots were set in (for then) unusual locations, like Portobello Road or Covent Garden, and stars including Jeff Beck were used to model gear such as PVC overcoats. Like Fabulous, Rave prominently featured young women writers. Cathy McGowan was a regular, along with Maureen O'Grady and Dawn James. However, if the ads for guitars were anything to go by, Rave also appealed to young men. Balancing teen pop with groups like the Yardbirds, the Byrds and the Who, it acquired a circulation of 125,000 by 1966'.

Peter Frampton, 1968


Yardbirds, 1966

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sonic Cannon in Pittsburgh

During this week's anti-capitalist protests against the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, police used a 'sonic cannon' as well as CS gas to disperse demonstrators. The Long Range Acoustic Device emits an ear-splitting siren which is extremely uncomfortable to be around. Used previously against pirates off Somalia, this is the first time it has been used against civilians in the US. It is also currently being used by the military in Honduras .

The LRAD is manufactured by American Technology Corporation (ATCO), a San Diego-based company, which has also supplied it to the Chinese police. The company calls itself "a leading innovator of commercial, government, and military directed acoustics product offers" that offers "sound solutions for the commercial, government, and military markets."

There's a CrimethInc report of the Pittsburgh protests at Infoshop news

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dangerous Desires, 1922

'Danger in Familiarities' - the American Social Hygiene Association advises on 'The Correct Dancing Position' from 1922: 'Conventions are the fences society has built to protect you and the race. Familiarities arouse dangerous desires. They waste your power for the finest human companionship and love. Physical attraction alone will never wholly satisfy. Complete and lasting love is of the mind as well as the body' (click image to enlarge).

Thanks to John at Alsatia for sending this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Night of a Thousand Stars

As this post concerns both a South East London story and documents a club scene I wasn't sure whether to post it at my localist Transpontine blog or here. So in the end I decided to put it on both.

Going out this Saturday (September 26th) to the Grand Vintage Ball at the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley (SE London). Should be a good night, but as always on the rare occasions when I go to the Rivoli nowadays I am hoping to recapture some of the magic of one of the best nights out there has ever been (for me at least) in Brockley or anywhere else - Club Montepulciano's Night of a Thousand Stars.

The club started out at the Rivoli some time in 1997 I believe - anyway I know that I went to the 4th night there on Saturday 27th September 1997 (flyer below) and at that time it was running more or less monthly in Brockley. The club promised 'style, glamour, comedy, dancing, cocktails and kitsch' and it always delivered.

The host was Heilco van der Ploeg with the Montepulciano house band Numero Uno - among other things they did a cover version of the Cadbury's Flake advert song from the 1970s ('tastes like chocolate never tasted before'). The format was usually a floorshow featuring a mixture of cabaret and dancing turns. Among the former I recall seeing Jackie Clune doing her Karen Carpenter routine, Earl Okin and burlesque act Miss High Leg Kick; among the latter were Come Dancing finalists like The Kay and Frank Mercer Formation Dance Team.

Then the DJs took over - usually Nick Hollywood and the Fabulous Lombard Brothers - playing kind of loungecore kitsch, but always very danceable - Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Peggy Lee, Perry Como and Andy Williams. The latter's House of Bamboo was something of an anthem - anybody who ever went to that club must surely have a flashback if they hear the line 'Number 54, the house with the bamboo door...'. The dance floor was invariably packed with a mish mash of styles - mods going through their paces in one corner, couples doing ballroom and Latin moves, and disco bunny hands in the air action (that was me anyway).

Xmas 1997 flyer
There were themed nights too. Moon over Montecarlo was themed around Motor racing, complete with an 8 lane Scalextric track.

There was a 1998 Halloween Night of a Thousand Vampires featuring one Count Alessandro, who performed a punk-flamenco-operatic version of Psycho Killer before wandering through the crowd biting necks with his vampire teeth. Sometimes there was a casino - but not for real cash - or you could get even get your haircut.

If all of this sounds a bit too arch, I must emphasise that it wasn't full of people being cool or ironic in a detached sort of way. It was a full on 90s clubbing scene with drink, drugs, sex in the toilets and other madness. As usual in clubs when the queues for the women's toilets got too long, the women invaded the men's toilets and I remember seeing one woman peeing standing up at one of the urinals.

But above all else there was dressing up. I went to lots of clubs at that time with supposed glamorous dress codes - Renaissance, the Misery of Sound - but none came anywhere close to Night of a Thousand Stars. And while at these glam house nights, dress codes were arbitrarily enforced by bouncers to create some kind of dubious sense of style elitism, at the Rivoli nobody had to dress up to get in - but everybody wanted to. It was a mass of sequins, feather boas, suits and dresses in velvet and fake fur (zebra, patent snakeskin you name it), sombreros... There was a real sense of entering a fantasy world where every man and every woman was star.

Planning what to wear was all part of the fun, sometimes I would go up to Radio Days (retro shop in Lower Marsh, Waterloo) to buy a new shirt especially. Feeling like a million dollars, and thousands of pounds in debt - I'm still paying off my credit card bills from that extravagant time, but that's all part of the proletarian dandy experience.

The other star was the venue itself - the red velvet and chandelier splendour of the Rivoli Ballroom. I'm not sure exactly when the club finished in Brockley - I think it was some time in 2000 and the rumour was that in all the time it had been running the venue had never really had a license for late night drinking. It moved on to the Camden Centre and Blackheath Halls but I don't think it was ever the same. I went to the latter in 2003 and it just didn't have the stardust.
Xmas 1998 flyer

It was all very handy for me living within walking distance, but it wasn't 'a local club for local people'. People came from all over London - one flyer said 'Get out your A-Z'. When the club closed, the taxi rank up the road was transformed into a post-ballroom chill out as the best dressed queue in town hung around chatting and waiting for a lift home. Bliss was it in that Brockley dawn to be alive.

Heilco van der Ploeg went on to open the Kennington tiki bar, South London Pacific. I thought I saw him pushing a buggy round Brockley last year.

More details of the Grand Vintage Ball here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Police Assault in Essex

Three Essex cops have been put on restricted duty while an internal inquiry is undertaken into a police assault in Brentwood, Essex last week. Video footage shows police spraying CS gas at close range in the face of a man who was already restrained and pushing women who complained on to the ground. The incident happened on Sunday September 13th near the Sugar Hut nightclub, where a big party featuring singer Pixie Lott had been cancelled due to a fire.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Anti-Rave Ordinance in New Mexico

Officials in Valencia County (New Mexico) have agreed to develop 'an anti-rave ordinance' to give the sheriff more powers to stop parties. Comments at a recent meeting included 'After this last one happened, I learned that the behavior that goes on at these raves is more risque than I thought' (more at Valencia County News Bulletin, 12 Sept 09)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rivington Castle Free Party

From This is Lancashire, 14 September 2009:

'A massive rave in a quiet beauty spot was broken up by police officers after it attracted hundreds of youngsters through the internet. More than 400 people attended the illegal, open-air rave at Rivington, near Horwich, in the early hours of yesterday. Officers were first alerted to the gathering at Liverpool Castle, at Rivington Reservoir, shortly after midnight, following complaints from residents living more than half a mile away that music could be heard.
A number of vans with industrial speakers inside were being used to pump out loud music at the castle until 7am.

More than 40 police were sent to disperse the crowds, thought to be youngsters in their late teens to early 20s, and the officers remained at the scene until about 9am.

...Insp Kevin Otter, of Lancashire Police, said it was the first event of its kind in the area that they had been called to deal with. He said... “This is a highly-unusual incident for the area, they happen more in the south of England. We did have one about 18 months ago, near Rawtenstall, but there were only about 50 people. He added: “Although this was obviously a very well organised event, it was an illegal gathering and those who attended were trespassing.”

The event was described on the Facebook site as “the first but hopefully never the last rave that was at Rivington Lower Castle”. Last night, a member of the group posted on the internet: “Really enjoyed the music, people raving dancing, juggling fire, everybody was shaking hands even though we didn’t know each other. People came from all over Manchester, Bolton, Horwich, Lancashire and Yorkshire.”

Some footage follows from Conan2472 at youtube where comments included: 'we got there before the coppers had blocked the road off, if it weren't for that helicopter we wouldn't have found it. heard loads about people duckin thru bushes swamps..walls, barbed wire ahaha. worth it tho!' Apparently Manchester's Daylite Robbery Sound System were involved

Monday, September 14, 2009

The end of dancing?

A prediction from 1897:

'Lady Ancaster's moan over the decay of dancing in London has called forth numerous letters on the subject, deploring the decay of the art. Such laments, unfortunately, are not likely to bring forth any satisfactory result. Gradually dancing has died out among the peasantry, whose recreation no longer consists in the merry mazes of the country-dance and the Maypole. Young sprigs of nobility have ceased to study intricate steps, graceful bows, exits and entrances, all which formerly constituted the integral part of the education of a gentleman.

Only in France and Italy do men still press their feet together and bow humbly and courteously over a lady's hand. A romp is the ideal of the British lad, and while the schoolboy disdains the tedium of the dancing lesson, when he is grown up he is seized with that false shame, sometimes miscalled indolence, which prevents him essaying dancing in the ballroom. By degrees it is probably that dancing will die out altogether, and that balls may become, like the ridollos and masquerades of our forefathers, a thing of the past. The natural charm of carriage and poetry ofmovement is, after all, a gift bestowed only on the few'.

Lady Violet Greville, Place aux Dames, The Graphic (London), July 31 1897, Issue 1444

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Peekskill Riots 1949

Must admit I'd never heard of the 1949 Peekskill Riots in New York State. Now thanks to a tip from Bob from Brockley I am much wiser. The focus was an August concert featuring Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and other left-leaning singers, which was besieged by a cross-burning racist, anti-semitic, anti-communist mob. When the concert was rearranged on September 4th, the Ku Klux Klan and local cops seems to have co-operated to ensure that concert goers were ambushed in the woods on their way home. 150 people needed hospital treatment.

For the full story see this article by Jeffrey Salkin in the Jewish Daily Forward.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Archived Music Press

Archived Music Press is a blog consisting of scanned articles from the New Musical Express and Melody Maker, from 1987-1996. As you might expect, it is an indie treasure trove, but also has some interesting articles on the dance music scenes that these papers largely overlooked in their enthusiasm for every passing guitar band trend.

For instance there's this great 1996 Simon Reynolds review of Tribal Gathering at Luton Hoo, in which he surveys the myriad scenes that emerged after 'rave's Ecstasy-sponsored unity inevitably re-fractured along class, race and regional lines. The borders and divisions that rave once magically dissolved reasserted themselves. The result: a sort of balkanisation of dance culture'.

The article also features a scathing critique of the then-dominant (at least in NME and Melody Maker) Britpop sound:

'Britpop is an evasion of the multiracial, technology-mediated nature of UK pop culture in the Nineties... the symbolic erasure of Black Britiain, as manifested in jungle and trip hop...Perhaps even more than race, it's covert class struggle that underpins Britpop's anti-rave subtext: the fetishising by mostly middle-class bands of an outmoded stereotype of working class-ness, is really a means of evading the real nature of modern prole leisure. This remains overwhelmingly shaped by Ecstasy culture and the music it spawned - a still unfolding era of psychedelia based around the drugs/technology interface'.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kuala Lumpur Karaoke Raid

From Bernama.com:

'KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 2009- Police who raided a karaoke cum mini discotheque in the city early Saturday morning, found 37 revellers under the influence of drugs. What was shocking was that more than half of the revellers inside the mini disco were Muslims who were either drunk or under the influence of drugs and showed no respect for the Holy month of Ramadan. The raid, headed by ASP Mahani Mohamed from the Kuala Lumpur vice, gambling and secret society branch (D7) also found 14 police officers among the revellers at the New Universal KTB or more popularly known as Laiketong in Taman Maluri, Cheras at 7.30am.

During the raid which lasted until 1 pm, 118 revellers at the three-storey entertainment outlet were screened and from the 37 who tested positive for Ketamin, Eramin 5 and syabu, were 21 women, including three Indonesians and one from Laos. Police also found 10 rooms that had been turned into mini discotheques for revellers who were Muslims. The owner of the premises would also be referred to the City Hall for operating well past the operation time allocated'.

(photo of women leaving the club from Malaysia Star)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Alsatia, Revels and Rave

Alsatia is a new blog dedicated to exploring the lost 'liberties and sanctuaries of London'. They explain: "In the seventeenth century, there existed, just outside the walls of the City of London, in the ward of Farringdon Without, from Fleet Street down to the banks of the Thames, between the Temple and St Brides, an area famed and feared for its lawlessness. This was the ’sanctuary’ or ‘liberty’ of Whitefriars, colloquially known as Alsatia... Alsatia was not the only anomalous territory in London; there had been a number of religious spaces within the City granting sanctuary, many of which had been thrown into doubt with the reformation. There were liberties, where the residents had special privileges and exemptions, and peculiars governed by outside authorities.... This combination of overlapping authorities and customary rights opened up quasi-autonomous spaces".

This is indeed fascinating stuff; John Constable has done some research into the related 'Liberty of the Clink' as part of his ongoing Southwark Mysteries project.

There's an interesting connection between the Whitefriars area and 'revels'; at one time the Office of the Revels was based there, responsible for organising official festivities. In the book Queer Virgins and Virgin Queans on the Early Modern Stage, Mary Bly considers the Whitefriars plays associated with the King's Revels theatre company (such as the delightfully named Cupid's Whirligig).

Is there a linguistic connection between 'revels' and 'rave'? Apparently, 'Thomas Blount in his 1656 dictionary "Glossographia" notes that "Revels" originates from the French word "reveiller", to wake from sleep. He goes on to define "Revels" as: "Sports of Dancing, Masking, Comedies, and such like, used formerly in the Kings House, the Inns of Court, or in the Houses of other great personages; And are so called, because they are most used by night, when otherwise men commonly sleep"'.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Jazz Babies

THE VOICE: ...You will be known during your fifteen years as a ragtime kid, a flapper, a jazz baby, and a baby vamp. You will dance new dances neither more nor less gracefully than you danced the old ones.
BEAUTY (in a whisper) : Will I be paid?
THE VOICE: Yes, as usual - in love.
BEAUTY (With a faint laugh which disturbs only momentarily the immobility of her lips): And will I like being called a jazz-baby?
THE VOICE (soberly) : You will love it .

(F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, 1922; sheet music above from 1920, below from 1919).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sudan trousers trial

Lubna Hussein is one of 13 Sudanese women arrested while listening to music in a Khartoum cafe on July 3:

'Next week I will stand trial in a Sudanese court, charged along with 12 other women with committing an "indecent act" – wearing trousers in a public place. I will face up to 40 lashes and an unlimited fine if I am convicted of breaching Article 152 of Sudanese law, which prohibits dressing indecently in public. As an employee of the UN I was offered immunity, and the chance to escape trial, but I chose to resign from the UN so that I could face the Sudanese authorities and make them show to the world what they consider justice to be...

And my case is far from an isolated one. In fact the director of police has admitted that 43,000 women were arrested in Khartoum state in 2008 for clothing offences. When asked, he couldn't say how many of these women had been flogged. And it's not just about clothing. After my arrest, two girls were arrested in a public place and the police discovered that their mobile phones had video clips of scenes from the hugely popular Arab soap Noor and Mohannad in which the main characters kiss each other. The girls were charged with pornography and given 40 lashes...'

Read the full article in yesterday's Guardian

Friday, September 04, 2009

AAA film

I've posted here before on my involvement in the Association of Autonomous Astronauts (1995-2000). Here's some video footage of some of its key moments - the London Space 1999 conference (including the J18 action against the militarisation of space), a balloon launch in New Zealand, the Intergalactic Conference in Bologna, a Paris 'Rave in Space' and the moment an Autonomous Astronaut actually got to experience zero gravity briefly on a cosmonaut-training parabolic flight.

It's ten years in 2010 since the AAA declared mission over - maybe time to celebrate it?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

In the forest

A hot bank holiday weekend, no doubt with lots of partying. 4000 people attended a free party on farmland near Warminster in Wiltshire last Saturday night, one of the bigger parties in recent years.

Here's some footage from earlier in the year of a free party in the woods at Worsley (outside Manchester) in April 2009, held in an abandoned military Bunker apparently there were '5 rigs, thousands of people came it was absolutely mental went on until 8 on the sunday evening'. Looks pretty intense - lots more photos of it here.

The party was put on by North West England free party crew GASH collective, who declare:

'There are many Myths & Legends surrounding the first GASH Party. We were all fed up with the dire state of the Manchester/Bolton Scene, and the domineering presence of commercial clubs and music venues. We decided to do something about it.

Starting off with small squat parties and gigs, we have grown from strength to strength and have since put on some of the biggest music events this area has ever seen. The idea has always been to ignite a spark... to get other people involved with creating our own scene, instead of complaining about the state of the current one.

GASH has never been about one style of music... The People involved have diverse tastes, ranging from Punk, Ska and Reggae, to Rock, Metal and HC, To Drum n Bass, Techno and Trance. We just want to get pissed and have fun in relaxed and autonomous environments filled with like minded people.

We have put on touring bands from all over the world. We have taken our Sound System On tour. We have collaborated with other collectives to bring some of the most diverse parties we have ever seen. We have taken over Abandoned buildings, Open woodland, a myriad of Pubs and Clubs to bring something very special... A genuinely good time. Parties teetering on the edge of chaos, held together by a common consensus to look out for each other and work together to create something beautiful. We are not done having fun yet.. This is just the beginning. Get involved... We are GASH - You are Invited...'

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thames Beach Party

Popped into briefly to this beach party on the South Bank of the Thames last Sunday. It was the latest in the ongoing series of 'Trance on Thames' free parties.