Friday, September 30, 2011

Police and parties, 1994-95

A while ago I posted chronologies of police and parties from 1996 and 1997. Here's some more from 1994 and 1995, all from England unless otherwise stated.

1994

January

( N.Ireland): A member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary is acquitted of the murder of 19 year-old Kevin McGovern in 1991, and will now return to police duty. McGovern was shot in the back on his way to a disco in Cookstown. The policeman claimed he thought the youth was armed (he wasn't). A few weeks earlier (on December 23) two British soldiers were found not guilty of the murder of Fergal Carraher, an unarmed man who was shot dead at an army checkpoint in Cullhana in 1990.

March

(N.Ireland): 16 people are arrested and many injured as RUC police with riot gear and dogs attack young people leaving a dance in Omagh. As the dance finished, police sealed off surrounding streets. People are beaten about the head with three foot long batons and plastic bullets fired.

April

Richard O’Brien, a 37 year old father of seven is killed by police from Walworth police station in south London. He had been to a dance at an Irish centre after a christening; outside he got into an argument with cops who held him down on the ground for 5 minutes after handcuffing him. In 1995 an inquest jury found that he had been unlawfully killed.

November

100 police raid Riverside club in Newcastle, making 33 arrests

December

Police raid on Final Frontier, techno night at Club UK, Wandsworth, South London

1995

May

Police with riot shields raid a techno free party at the ArtLab, Preston and impound the sound system, decks, records and other equipment. 21 arrests [Mixmag July 1995]

(Scotland): Drug squad cops harrass people at Ingnition II, a commercial rave in Aberdeen. 75 people were searched (some of them up to four times in a half hour period), and some arrested.

3000 people attend an all-weekend free party organised by United Systems at a disused air force base near Woodbridge, Suffolk featuring Virus, Vox Populi, Jiba, Oops and Chiba City sound systems. Police shut down the party on Monday afternoon, arresting four people and confiscating equipment (all returned within two weeks).

Police close down free party put on by Transient and Babel sound systems near Bangor (Wales).

Heavy police presence at Phenomenon One at the Hacienda, Manchester. Although there was no trouble, the police complained that there were too many people smoking grass and drinking after 2 am, and the management cancelled future jungle nights.

June

Police raid Home in Manchester, and call for it to be closed down permanently. It doesn’t reopen until December.

July

The weekend of July 7th 1995 saw the first major police operation using the ‘anti-rave’ sections of the Criminal Justice Act. Cops across the country coordinated their efforts and successfully managed to prevent the planned 7/7 “mother” of all free festivals. To stop people dancing in a field, police:

- raided the houses of people believed to be involved in organising the party and charged eight people with “conspiracy to cause a public nuisance”;
- took over the party info phonelines and questioned callers;
- used helicopters and set up roadblocks to stop people getting to planned festival sites at Corby (Northants), Sleaford (Lincs.), and Smeatharpe (Devon) where ten people were arrested.
- seized the sound system belonging to Black Moon (a free party collective based at Buxton, Derbyshire), charging three people under Section 63 of the CJA, the first time it has been used.
- used Section 60 of the CJA to set up five mile exclusion zones around festival sites.

Thousands of people took to the roads in search of the festival, and despite the efforts of the police several smaller parties did happen, including at Grafham (where over 1000 people partied) and at Steart Beach near Hinckley Point in Dorset where 150 vehicles managed to gather.

Bottles and bricks thrown at police by people being turned away from a warehouse near Huddersfield, Yorkshire where a party was to be held. 3 people are arrested after shop and police car windows are smashed.

70 police raid Progress house night in Derby. Everybody in the club (punters, staff and security) searched and made to leave, and the club was closed down

On July 23rd 1995 Reclaim the Streets closed down one of London’s busiest roads and held a big free party. Publicity for ‘Rave against the machine’ had been circulating for weeks with only the venue a secret. While police wondered where the action would be hundreds of people poured out of Angel tube station and blocked Islington high street, transforming it quickly into a car free zone. Banners calling for an end to the “tyranny of the motor car” and “support the railworkers” (on strike) were hung across the road, and sound systems, including one fitted onto an armoured car, sprang into action. Chill out spaces were created with bits of carpet on the road and a few comfy armchairs, as well as a giant sandpit for children. A couple of thousand people partied from noon to about seven o’clock while the police watched on unamused. After the music finished and most people had gone home, riot cops took out their frustration on those left behind, baton charging them down to Kings Cross, and making 38 arrests

(Scotland): “The friendly ‘boys on blue’ or rather ‘psycho cops in combat gear’ launched a massive, over-the-top drugs raid on the Kathouse club in Lockerbie. About 50 of them burst in, handcuffed everyone and carted them off to Lockerbie and Dumfries police station. Everyone was interrogated, finger prints were taken and they had to mark on a plan of the Kathouse where they had been sitting and they were all strip searched. The police treated everyone like shit. The Kathouse holds about 150 people max. It’s in a small town and the club itself is not very big. .. The music ranged from house to hardcore, the atmosphere was electric, there was never any violence... 6 people out of 77 were charged with possession of drugs” [M8, October 1995.]

August

(Canada): In Shuswap territory, a sacred sundance and burial site was been occupied by Native Americans. At the end of August 1995, heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police cut off all communications to the Shuswap camp, and surround the area. One Canadian cop refered to the sundancers as “dancing prairie niggers”. [Earth First Action Update, September 1995]

(Argentina): Police arrest 130 gay men and transvestites after storming the gay pub Gas Oil in Buenos Aires on suspicion of ‘corruption’. In Mar del Plata, 60 lesbians and gay men were stripped searched and arrested in the Petroleo disco [Pink Paper, 1 September 1995]

September

(Iran): “A bride has been sentenced to 85 lashes in Mashhad, Iran, for dancing with men at her wedding. The court sentenced 127 wedding guests to floggings or fines and jailed one man.” [Guardian, 5 September 1995]

(Ireland): Tribal Gathering II, due to take place in Cavan on September 30th, is cancelled after the local police object. A local cop says that they did not have the resources to stop “the undesirable elements that shows of this nature attract”. Cavan County Council had initially approved the event, but after the intervention of the Garda they moved the goalposts and said that the organisers (Universe and The Mean Fiddler) would need planning permission, impossible in the time remaining.

Over 114 arrests (mainly for drugs) at Dreamscape, a commercial rave at Brafield Aeordorome, Northampton.

35 people arrested in police raid on party at Clyro near Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border.

October

150 police raid Club UK in south London. Operation Blade involved dogs, horses, and the Territorial Support Group. 800 clubbers were turned out on to the streets, and many searched. 10 people were arrested

(Wales): Police raid 37 pubs and clubs in mid-Wales, making 50 arrests after seizing various drugs

11 people are nicked in a a drugs raid on Happy Jax in south-east London.

On Saturday October 21st 1995, 600 people block Deansgate, one of Manchester’s busiest shopping streets for a Reclaim the Streets protest. People dance and party until 5:00 pm, when the police threaten to arrest the Desert Storm Sound System (veterans of Hyde Park and Bosnia). The crowd move to Albert Square (outside the Town Hall) where they carry on till the morning.

November

(Scotland): 30 police raid Slam at the Arches in Glasgow.

150 police wait outside Dance Paradise event in Great Yarmouth searching people and making 86 arrests ; the rave was spread over three venues and the police stopped and searched people as they moved between them. The police invited BBC and ITV crews to film the operation [Mixmag, January 1996]

Manager of the Mineshaft gay club in Manchester convicted under the Disorderly Houses Act 1751 for supposedly allowing men to have sex with men in a back-room at the club (raided by police in April 1994 with 13 arrests).

The owner of Peckham gay bar Attitude fined under an 1832 Act for “allowing disorderly behaviour”. Undercover cops in leather visited the club earlier this year, as did two Southwark Council Licensing officers. The latter attended an underwear party and stripped down in the spirit of things before reporting that they had seen men having oral sex and four men dancing, when the bar had no dancing licence [Gay Gazette 8 November 1995]

The House of Lords refuses to repeal the Sunday Observance Act of 1780 which forbids pubs and clubs from charging for dances on the Sabbath. While horse racing and shopping have been allowed, the Lords ruled Sunday dances too sensitive and needing more public consultation. The Metropolitan Police have written to pubs warning them that they could be fined for breaking these rules. Since New Years Eve falls on a Sunday some events (such as a Sign of the Times party at the ICA) have already been cancelled. The law also requires special licences to extend music, dancing and drinking hours on a Sunday [Time Out, November 1995, Gay Gazette, 8 Nov. 1995]

December

Police raid the Dolphin gay pub in Wakefield at 2:30 am on Boxing Day and arrest 15 people because “Licensing laws were being broken”

Seven people become the first to be found guilty under the “rave” sections of the Criminal Justice Act, after being arrested at a party on the site of an anti-roads protest in Whitstable, Kent

(Australia) 20,000 people from all over the world turn up for the Bondi beach party in Sydney on Christmas Day. Police threaten to ban next year’s party, or at least make it alcohol-free after rioting at the end. On New Year’s Eve, there is more trouble: 12 people were arrested and rocks and bottles were thrown at cops.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1987: dancing in Brixton and beyond

The Acid House moment of the late 1980s, like the Punk moment a decade or so previously, is often presented as a kind of Year Zero where something entirely new exploded against a backdrop of boredom and mediocrity. To sustain this narrative it is necessary to pretend that nothing much was going on beforehand. Simon Reynolds' (generally excellent) Energy Flash is a case in point: 'In 1987, London clubland was as crippled by cool as ever. The Soho craze for rare groove (early seventies, sub-James Brown funk) represented the fag-end of eighties style culture, what with its elitist obscurantism... and its deference to a bygone, outdated notion of 'blackness''.

For me personally, the house and techno scenes of the early 1990s were a period of unprecedented intensity. But was the time before it really so dull? Not for me. January 1987 was the time I first moved down to live in London (Brixton). I remember that year as being a time of great musical innovation, as well as appreciation for some fine older music.

It was a time of amazing electronic beats - 1986 saw the release of Janet Jackson's Control (produced by Jam and Lewis), Who is It? by Mantronix and Joyce Sims All n All. A time when the possibilities of sampling were first being explored - Pump up the Volume by MARRS and Coldcut's Say Kids What Time is It? both came out in early '87. It was the golden age of Def Jam, with License to Ill by the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy's debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show both coming out that year too. I remember lying on the beach in Majorca that summer listening to it - if that was 'outdated blackness' it sounded good to me (though the big track that summer in Majorca was I Found Lovin' by the Fatback Band, must have danced to that every night). And yes, a time of house music breaking through - Steve 'Silk' Hurley's Jack Your Body went to number one in Britain in January '87.

In clubs you would hear an eclectic mix of all this with earlier soul and funk sounds. The latter was partly being rediscovered as a result of checking out the source of hip hop samples. For instance I remember dancing to Jean Knight's Mr Big Stuff at Wendy May's Locomotion at the Town and Country club, a Friday night feast of Stax, Motown and Northern Soul. Like many people, I'd first heard the chorus as a sample in 1987's Mr Big Stuff by Heavy D and the Boyz.




One of the first clubs I went to in London '87 was a night called Wear it Out, in a room above a pub in Brixton - the Loughborough Hotel. Music was a mixture of classic soul/funk and new beats. I know it was there that I first heard Prince's Sign o' the Times, which also came out that year. The same venue became a big part of Brixton nightlife in the late 1980s/early 1990s going on to become a gay club where they played lots of Stock Aitken & Waterman dance pop and then from 1989 to 1997 the home of the Mambo Inn, legendary Latin & African music club.

Danse Chase (or Dance Chace) upstairs at the Alexandra at Clapham Common had a similar musical mix of old and new. I remember hearing tracks there from Michael Jackson's Bad LP, another 1987 classic, on the day it came out. The image on the membership card, with its Keith-Haring-meets-the-Aztecs figures, was repeated on banners around the walls. I believe they were designed by promoter Kev Moore.








Danse Chase diversified into Northern Soul with what became the Southside Soul Club (some good memories of that place at Soul Source - photos of Dance Chase also sourced from there). They also had a jazz night (Hi Note), which was where I once saw Slim Gaillard.



This short film of dancer Keb Darge was shot at the Alexandra in that period:



Another Northern Soul night was Agent 00-Soul at the George IV in Brixton Hill. I remember there being some serious dancers there, including a guy in a wheelchair who put my wannabe Wigan Casino moves to shame.





Also went out sometimes to the 121 club in Brixton, the squatted anarchist centre at 121 Railton Road (later home to Dead by Dawn). Some friends of mine from the Direct Action Movement put on a party there that year, I recall flyering the Prince Albert pub and then dancing to disco in the basement at 121.

One of the biggest nights was Jay Strongman's Dance Exchange at The Fridge on Saturdays in Brixton, a big dancefloor with banks of TVs around it. 1970s 'Rare Groove' was a big part of the sound there, with great tracks including Maceo & The Macks 'Cross the Tracks', Bobby Byrd's 'I know you got soul' and The Jackson Sisters 'I believe in Miracles'. But plenty of contemporary sounds too. And yes I wore the uniform of black Levi 501s and Doc Marten shoes.



It was a similar mix of the old and new at the PSV club in Manchester where I went a couple of times in that period (the club in Hulme, also known as the Russell Club had previously been the location for the first Factory club). This flyer from 1987 gives a sense of the variety of music to be heard out in that year: Tackhead, Trouble Funk, Sly & Robbie, Eric B, Joyce Sims, Mantronix, Prince etc.



Finally in Brixton there was the Prince of Wales, a gay club on the corner of Coldharbour Lane. A cheap night out - £1 in rather than £5 for the Fridge - my main memory of it is dancing to extended mixes of Madonna and Hi-NRG tracks like Taffy's I Love My Radio. There's still a pub there, but it's half the size of the old gay club which occupied that whole corner, including where the KFC is now. I think the club closed down in the late 80s having achieved some notoriety in the 1987 trial of serial killer Michael Lupo, who was arrested after being spotted in the place.

That gloomy ending aside, 1987 was a pretty good year!

(a really good take on London 1980s nightlife is You’re too Young to Remember the Eighties – Dancing in a different time, which Controlled Weirdness wrote for Datacide. Good tales of warehouse parties, the Wag, Mud Club etc. and the times when almost all legal clubs closed by 2 am
)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bruce Turner - Pavlova

Bruce Turner's painting 'Pavlova' is a remarkable early modernist image of a dancer in motion painted in around 1912. I saw it yesterday in Tate Britain, where it is currently on display.



Don't know too much about Turner (1894-1963), but he was from Leeds and seemingly involved in the Leeds Art Club, an interesting avant garde grouping from before the First World War through which flowed various counter-currents including socialism, anarchism, spiritualism, suffragism and theosophy



Anna Pavlova made her sensational first appearance in London in 1910, and performed at the Leeds Grand on 17 January 1912 advertised as the 'dancing revelation of the age' (see Leeds Play Bills). Maybe Turner was there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bobby Sands & The Rhythm of Time



I've been meaning to post for a while on the Irish hunger strike in 1981, an event that had a big impact on me when I was growing up. 30 years ago the hunger strike was in its final weeks - Mickey Devine had been the tenth and last to die on 20 August, and the protest came to an end on 3 October. One thing that makes it hard to write about, at least for me, is that it is hardly ever mentioned in Britain now - even in leftist/anarchist circles. Most people who weren't around at the time are thus unware of what it was all about or the context in which it took place. To try and explain all that is beyond me right now, let alone to convey the feeling of living through these times.

One observation I will make for now is that contrary to the often unengaged nature of art in Britain, the art world is one of the few places where the memory of the hunger strike has lingered, albeit in only a few places. I was reminded of that recently when I saw Richard Hamilton's The Citizen in Tate Britain [top], a painting depicting Bobby Sands (the first hunger striker to die). I was reminded of that again when reflecting on this week's death of Hamilton. His partner Rita Donagh also produced work referencing the H-Blocks, the prison blocks where the protest took place [Single Cell Block, 1982,below].


I also recently watched Steve McQueen's film Hunger, an outstanding meditation on the events with Michael Fassbender playing the part of Sands. It is very evocative of the time, the sound of prison officers' truncheons banging out a rhythm on riot shields (and on the flesh of prisoners) echoed by the sound of dustbin lids being banged on the streets outside by the prisoners' supporters. And the chilling sound of Thatcher's voice...

Of course Bobby Sands was a writer himself, penning the lyrics to Back Home in Derry - most famously recorded by Christy Moore.



Sands' poem The Rhythm of Time mentions, among other things, Wat Tyler, Wounded Knee and Spartacus. I like this version of it set to music by Hot Ash:

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Summer 2011 Police and Parties

Summer police and party news from England....

Police use taser in North West London (Harrow Observer, 7 September 2011)

'Riot police had to disperse an out-of-hand party in Harrow in the early hours of Sunday during which a man was Tasered. These members of the specialist Territorial Support Group were aiding Harrow police officers and members of the dog section in breaking up the rowdy event in Harrow View, which was attended by 200 people in a block of flats described locally as a special unit for single mothers. Revellers turned on officers as they tried to move them on, throwing bricks and bottles.

A 28-year-old man from Northolt was struck with the electrical incapacitating weapon but required no medical treatment and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of affray. He has since been bailed until a date in October. Police attended the scene around 2.30am after calls from residents and Harrow Council's environmental health officer...'

Norfolk
(Norfolk Police, 30 August 2011)

'A man has been charged under licensing legislation after police shut down an illegal rave in an area of woodland in West Norfolk over the Bank Holiday weekend. Up to 100 people were in attendance with around 20 vehicles parked nearby in an area of woodland known locally as Old Belt. Officers were dispatched to the scene and blocked possible entrances/exits and the event was safely closed down by about 6am.

Two people were arrested and sound equipment, vinyl records and a van used for the unlicensed event near Grimston were seized. 27-year-old Liam Curtis of Common Close in West Winch has been charged with carrying on an unauthorised licensable activity, namely a rave. He has been released on bail to appear before King's Lynn Magistrates Court on Thursday 22 September. A 24-year-old woman was released without charge'

Bedfordshire 1 (About My Area Bedfordshire, 16 August 2011)

'Bedfordshire Police closed down an illegal rave which took place in Sandy during the early hours of Sunday August 14, 2011. At around 12.30am, more than 200 partygoers descended on land close to the RSPB Lodge in Sandy. Members of the public alerted Bedfordshire Police and officers moved quickly to close off roads surrounding the areas and speak to the organisers of the illegal gathering who were warned that their equipment would be seized if they did not close down the event. The organisers complied with the police request and officers, with the assistance of the force helicopter, remained at the location to ensure that all equipment was removed and no one returned to the area.

Chief Inspector Neill Waring said the operation sends a warning to other organisers that Bedfordshire Police will not tolerate raves that are unlicensed by the local authority and present serious health and safety risk to revellers. He said: "The key to interrupting raves is early intervention and although in this case, the rave was already underway, local people supplied us with intelligence that helped us to identify the location and put the appropriate resources in place. We would ask the public to work with us and contact us the moment they suspect a rave may be being organised, since once they are established they are notoriously difficult to disrupt. Signs to look out for include postings on web sites, notice boards or convoys of cars going around in circles and waiting for last minute instructions on where to go. Parents should think twice about where their teenagers are going and certainly ask questions if they ask to be dropped at a dark or unusual location."

Bedfordshire 2 (Bedfordshire on Sunday, 22 August 2011)

'At around 10am on Sunday Bedfordshire Police, assisted by officers from Northamptonshire closed down a rave that had been taking place ovenright on land to the rear of Poddington airfield. Three people were arrested including two men and a 19-year-old female in addition to two men arrested on Saturday night when police attempted to prevent the rave going ahead.

Three of the four men, all in their early twenties were arrested in connection with the organisation of the event and have now been released on bail. The female and the fourth man were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences and were kept in custody. It’s in connection with Operation Extra which has the message that Bedfordshire will not tolerate illegal raves'.

[The party was by the Santa Pod drag racing track on the Bedfordshire/Northamptonshire border, see video below]

Friday, September 02, 2011

Anti-National: Love Techno, Hate Britain?

A global economic crisis is leading to global austerity - yet paradoxically in places at the sharp end populist nationalism is resurgent amidst the demonstrations and riots. A recent survey of the situation in Greece notes that 'Nationalism (mostly in a populist form) is dominant, favoured both by the various extreme right wing cliques as well as by left parties and leftists. Even for a lot of proletarians or petty-bourgeois hit by the crisis who are not affiliated with political parties, national identity appears as a last imaginary refuge when everything else is rapidly crumbling. Behind the slogans against the “foreign, sell out government” or for the “Salvation of the country”, “National sovereignty” and a “New Constitution” lies a deep feeling of fear and alienation to which the “national community” appears as a magical unifying solution. Class interests are often expressed in nationalist and racist terms producing a confused and explosive political cocktail'.

Look too at Egypt where the army seized power by posing as the guardian of the nation in the revolutionary upheaval there; or at Libya where 'foreign national' migrant workers have suffered abuse and worse as potential 'mercenaries' during the revolt. Adrift on the ocean of debt and recession the ship of the nation state seems to be a place of safety even as it sinks... the dream of returning back to an imaginary time when our lives weren't at the mercy of abstract, impersonal forces.

There are a number of ways to respond to this. One is to go with the flow and try to put a postive spin on it, to imagine a kind of politically correct patriotism - see for instance Billy Bragg's advocacy of a 'Progressive Patriot' position [insert standard Orwell quote about patriotism being good, but nationalism being bad, whatever the difference is]. But loving the place you happen to know is no basis for any kind of politics - that doesn't make it any better than all the places you don't happen to know.

Another approach is an abstract internationalism which simply affirms a global solidarity without getting hands dirty criticising the prevalent nationalism of where you live. In Berlin earlier this year, on the other hand, I was struck by the continuing virulence of the anti-national position: a total refusal to have any truck with celebrating Germany or German culture. Here's some images from that current:

'Keing tag fur die Nation' ('No day for the nation').


'Staat, Nation, Kapital. Scheisse' (State, Nation, Capital. Shit') - demonstration against day to celebrate German reunification.



Fight the Empire, Destroy Germany



Deutschland Abschalten (Shut down Germany)




'Everybody loves Germany. We don't'



'Love techno, hate Germany'



There are some problems with parts of the 'anti-national' tendency, especially when German exceptionalism is over-emphasised. The point isn't to be just 'anti-German' as if other people's nationalism is OK - and indeed in Germany many people in that current moved on from describing themselves as 'antideutsch' to 'antinational'.

What would an 'anti-British' imagery look like? What is it we would be against - the nation state? The political formation? The notion of supremacy of British culture and history? Would it be worthwhile? Just thinking aloud here, but if you want to have a go at some stickers let's see what you come up with!
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