Happy summer solstice, June 21st and here's the 21st completed Dancing Questionnaire from John Eden of Uncarved, Woofah and many other adventures.
1. Can you remember your first experience of dancing?
I can't really, unless you count doing the hokey cokey at parties or 'music and movement' at school as a child. I have rubbish co-ordination, so never had much confidence for physical things like football or dancing.
We did have some school discos when I was about 10, but I seem to remember running about with mates rather than dancing. It was a nerd's life from then until my mid teens.
I found it a lot easier to hang out at parties talking bollocks in the kitchen or arguing over whose tape got played on the stereo (which I think is how many people ended up being DJs 'in the olden days' - a love of music and a fear of making an arse of yourself dancing).
I eventually overcame most of my reservations about getting on down with a combination of teenage drinking and going to places where nobody seemed to mind if you were gyrating like a short-circuiting C3PO. I'm never going to win any medals for my dance skills, but it's been an incredibly important part of my life.
2. What's the most interesting/significant thing that has happened to you while out dancing?
Er, I dunno. None of the significant things in my life have happened whilst I've been dancing. This is probably because I try to get completely lost in it all and remove myself from the outside world.
I guess I'm often 'working through' stuff in the back of my head without realising it, and then having a chuckle at myself for being so serious and then realising that whatever it was just didn't matter all that much anyway. I'm also a fan of those little conspiratorial smiles with complete strangers.
More concretely, the plan to do the fanzine which became WOOFAH hatched out of several nights on the Plastic People dancefloor at the sadly missed BASH - an incredible reggae/grime/dubstep night run by Kevin Martin (The Bug) and Loefah (DMZ).
On a less positive note, someone was once sick into the hood of my hooded top whilst I was dancing, which seemed quite significant at the time.
Oh and the first Gulf War broke out while I was dancing to Psychic TV at the Zap Club in Brighton, which killed the mood somewhat.
3. You. Dancing. The best of times
Reclaiming the Streets on the Westway [film below from 1996 - one of my favourite days too, Neil]. Fatboy Slim playing all night in the small room at The End. Watching the sun come out from behind the clouds at the Big Chill. Any of The Bug's sets at BASH.
There's a lot I can't remember, the hundreds of amazing nights out with friends that are little chapters in the larger story of a social relationship... it's never just about the dancing, it's the mad conversations, getting ready, random things happening on the way home, the whole night.
4. You. Dancing. The worst of times...
I got really drunk at drum 'n' bass night PM Scientists (Farringdon, circa 1997) and fell over the MC whilst he was in full flow. That didn't go down very well.
Seeing bouncers pound some poor guy's head against a wall in Cyprus. Moody junglists telling people off for dancing 'in my space'. Euro-crusties killing the vibe with a two hour acid techno set in someone's kitchen.
Homophobic MCs on my favourite soundsystem (which to be fair to them they sorted out sharpish),
Casualties. Realising that, tonight John, YOU are the casualty.
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to every single person whose feet I have trodden on, or whose drink I have spilled in the course of my adventures over the years.
5. Can you give a quick tour of the different dancing scenes/times/places you've frequented?
Mid 80s - Flailing around ripped to the gills on cider at various punky gigs.
1988 - first acid house moment, first time in a nightclub.
Late 80s/early 90s - lots of gigs/clubs by aciiiieeeed converts like Psychic TV, the Shamen, Megadog, the odd squat party here and there. Oh and The Torture Garden fetish nights, which were a bit of an eye-opener. Also some goth/indie nights (I blame my housemates). This covers the first few years of me moving to London so I was going out a lot.
Mid 90s - the Tribal Gathering festivals. A brief flirtation with the early stages of Goa trance with Return to the Source at the Brixton Fridge. Then drum 'n' bass, plus things like Dead by Dawn at the 121 Centre.
Late 90s: falling headlong into Big Beat and an increasingly all-consuming obsession with all things dub, culminating in some truly inspirational moments under the influence of soundsystems like Jah Shaka, Iration Steppas, Abashanti and Jah Tubbys.
Early to mid 2000s: I went to a few nights organised by folk on the UK-Dance.org discussion list. Since then the only game in town has been BASH, really. I've occasionally enjoyed grime/dubstep nights like Dirty Canvas, FWD and the squatted 'House Party' events. For a while my main source of dancing was at kids' discos... cha cha slide..
Late 2000s: A few years ago I got tired of regularly being the oldest bloke in the room at dubstep/grime nights. Since then I've gravitated more towards smaller reggae/rocksteady/ska clubs like Tighten Up and Musical Fever . These attract an impressively diverse age range and are always great - everyone is serious about the music, but generally not at the expense of having a good time.
6. When and where did you last dance?
I had a drunken stagger recently at a mate's birthday party in Camden (this mate, in fact). Jah Shaka at the Dome in Tufnell Park was the last time I had a proper session. That was back in May and did me a power of good.
7. You're on your death bed. What piece of music would make your leap up for one final dance?
I would probably attempt to nod my head to Hopeton Lewis' 'Take It Easy', but throwing off the respirator and waving my zimmer frame in the air like I just don't care is probably reserved for 'Drop Top Caddy' by Aphrodite and Mickey Finn.
All questionnaires welcome, just answer the same questions - or even make up a few of your own - and send to firstname.lastname@example.org (see previous questionnaires).