Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dancing arrests at the Jefferson Memorial

Some heavy-handed arrests at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC on Saturday.

It was the latest in a saga that started in 2008 when Mary Oberwetter and a group of friends celebrated President Jefferson's 265th birthday by dancing silently at the memorial while listening to music through headphones. Police ordered them to stop and arrested them when they didn't. Oberwetter sued on free speech grounds, but last week the appeals court ruled that her conduct was prohibited "because it stands out as a type of performance, creating its own center of attention and distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration".

So some others called a silent dancing flashmob last weekend at the same location. By the looks of it it was a low key event with just a few people dancing, but the Parks police response was vicious with 5 arrests including one guy slammed down on the floor seconds after singing a version of Men Without Hats' 'Safety Dance':

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
Cause the cops won't dance [it's 'friends' not 'cops' in the original]
And if they don't dance
Well they're no friends of mine

(OK it seems that the guy getting thrown to the floor is Adam Kokesh, self-publicist with a decidely odd cocktail of political beliefs. Just to be clear, arrests like these are not evidence of 'Obama's communist police state' as right wing 'libertarians' suggest, but they do raise some fundamental questions about the boundaries of freedom - as the original court case highlighted, what is the distinction between 'freedom of speech' and freedom of movement of the body in a public place?).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Molly Macindoe - Free Party Photos

Photographier Molly Macindoe has a new book out 'Out of Order: A Photographic Celebration of the Free Party Scene'. I haven't got hold of a copy yet, but judging by the images reproduced in the Guardian last week, I have to get one soon. Lots of great images of parties in London from 1997 onwards then on to the Teknival circuit on the continent.

This photo was taken at a disused meat factory, Tottenham Hale on 31 December 1997. Joshua Surtees recalls this party at London Loves: 'The venue, we quickly realised, had once been an abattoir or meat factory. This was evidenced by large machinised meat hooks hanging from the ceiling, huge conveyor belts and various bits of slicing and dicing equipment. The size of the place was almost unimaginable. Each room was the size of a football pitch. Each contained a soundsystem playing either techno, jungle or gabber'.

This strange sense of space has always been one of the features of larger squatted buildings. In commercial clubs, every metre is planned for - the bar, the dancefloor, the cloakroom. Squatted buildings can be small and crowded but sometimes, like this one, huge and cavernous with a fantastically uneconomic use of space - whole areas where people can just drift. And yes, as Surtees point out: 'These were buildings lying empty in ruins. Filthy, devoid of electricity supplies or running water, windows broken, utterly neglected and destined to stay like that for years. Soundsystems such as Crossbones transformed these spaces into living, breathing, mind altering events full of colour, energy and sound. Very, very loud sound'.

On a similar tip check out 90's + Gigs Squats Parties, a newish site with flyers etc. from the free party scene. Lots of Brixton/South London stuff there, already including a few parties I was at.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Peace dreams shot down by war schemes - RIP Gil Scott-Heron

Sad to hear of the death yesterday of Gil Scott-Heron. Among many other things, he was a consistent critic of the Space-Military-Industrial Complex, something dear to my heart as a former Autonomous Astronaut. His best known poem on the subject was Whitey on the Moon, written in the aftermath of the 1969 moon landing:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)
I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)
The man just upped my rent last night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
I wonder why he's upping me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I was already paying him fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes taking my whole damn check,
Junkies making me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is going up,
And as if all that shit wasn't enough:
A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arm began to swell.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Was all that money I made last year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain't no money here?
(Hmm! Whitey's on the moon)
Y'know I just 'bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I'll send these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Less known is his track Space Shuttle, released in 1990.

Space Shuttle – raising hell down on the ground
Space Shuttle - they're turning seasons upside down.
Space Shuttle - and all the hungry people know
all change sho' 'nuff ain't progress when you're poor.

Space was the place
Where at least we thought our dreams were safe
Ideas of innocence and grace
Floating above the planet’s face
Ah, but the distance has been erased
'cause Uncle Sam is on the case
ET has joined the Arms Race!
Helping with a military base.

Rocketing through the atmosphere
Slding into second gear
While miles below the people cheer
The New Invaders on the New Frontier
But there are also those who do not cheer
The gravity of their lives appears
And in their eyes flash frozen fears
rocket sounds are what they hear

Practice looks of great surprize
You’re the Captain Kirk, this is Free Enterprise
Wall Street says ‘Let’s play Defense!’
And ‘Dollar Bills make damn good sense!
Hail to the Protectionism!
Let us bring on the new age of Humanism.
We can put the cap on Capitalism!
What have we got here – Ray-gunism!

No matter what man goes looking for
He always seems to find a war
As soon as dreams of peace are felt
The war is raging somewhere else

…we’ve got peace dreams
shot down by war schemes
a hole shot through the ozone layer
put the fear back in the atmosphere

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rockingham Estate Street Art

These murals are on the Rockingham Estate, near the Elephant and Castle in South London. They were done in 2009 by Morganico with local youth (click on images to enlarge).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dancing Questionnaire 22: Jamie Potter

Jamie Potter (http://twitter.com/jamiepotter) gives us the low down on 21st century nights out in Hull, Leicester and Leeds.

1. Can you remember your first experience of dancing?

I have a strange relationship with dancing. I bought my first decks when I was 15 but I was about the only person in my school/town who had any interest in dance music so parties and club visits were non-existent. When I first started going out drinking there were small dancefloors in some of the bars with cheesy DJs playing horrible cheesy music. I was generally reluctant to dance as I was scared of looking like an idiot, though if I saw an attractive girl on the dancefloor I was occasionally tempted into some awkward shuffling that barely registered as 'dancing'.

My first 'proper' dancing experience will have been at either Spiders or Welly in Hull, I can't remember which. Both are rock/indie clubs catering to very young crowds. As I said, I was mainly into dance music but I also liked a lot of rock music and most of my friends were into it, so it was a scene I felt comfortable in. Some and friends and I, while in sixth form, got a train over one night and I remember actually dancing to the likes of Rage Against the Machine and At The Drive In.

2. What’s the most interesting/significant thing that has happened to you while out dancing?

At Gatecrasher Summer Soundsystem in 2008 somebody died after taking drugs in one of the tents we'd been dancing in at the time. I think they had a heart attack. We weren't aware of it until a few hours later when word got around the campsite, at which point we were all chilling out by our tents. I wasn't taking drugs that weekend, I don't really like or need them, but everybody I was there with was on something or other, so the news hit home a bit and led to some glum faces. Though, of course, a few hours later normal service had been resumed.

3. You. Dancing. The best of times…

Getting lost in the music, there's only the here and now, the world doesn't exist beyond the four walls (or railway tunnel...) and the range of the speakers. Tapping into the groove of the music that transcends individual tracks, like a pulse, with this record pulling you to this side and the next record tugging you in the opposite direction. Warmth, sweat, skin on skin, jostling and bumping. Timeless.

4. You. Dancing. The worst of times…

Listening to the DJ play the same record he did last week and the week before that and the crowd responding like it's the first time they've ever heard Living On A Prayer and you neck bottles of artificially flavoured alcohol packed with sugar because the other option is being alone in your room mixing together some minimal techno and you hope for a beautiful girl to come and rescue you, but it doesn't happen. In the morning you vow to give up on these crap nights but the other option is being alone in your room mixing together some minimal techno...

5. Can you give a quick tour of the different dancing scenes/times/places you’ve frequented?

As previously mentioned my first dancing experiences were among the rock and indie clubs in Hull when I was 17 or 18. The party scene in my home town was pretty non-existent with house parties an excuse to drink rather than dance. I remember DJing at a friend's house party, my only house 'gig' back then, and I was essentially playing background music.

Things changed when I started university and I began going to my first 'proper' nightclubs. These were often to see drum and bass/hip hop/breakbeat nights, usually in small, sweaty venues like the old Po Na Na or Charlotte in Leicester. Such gigs were nearly always dominated by white males, despite the cultural mix of Leicester. The large number of music technology students also contributed to the crowds at these gigs.

At the same time, I was also going to the cheesy student nights with my wider circle of friends, who tended to be fairly disinterested in dance music, especially the house and techno I love. These nights were always bigger, drink fuelled and soundtracked by chart hits and classic cheese like the Baywatch theme. There would be an even mix of girls and guys in what I could only really term a cattle market - people on the prowl for members of the opposite sex. I couldn't stand these nights out and only went along because my social life would be non-existent otherwise and I tended to depend on copious amounts of drink to get me through them.

Further in to my uni life I started working at some cool bars in Leicester, often finishing in the early hours of the morning and hitting one of a couple of late night bars until 7 or 8 in the morning. Both were fairly small places, frequented by bar staff with a nice community feel. One, the Basement, played funk, ska and soul and was a refreshing change to all the crap elsewhere. The other, Esko, started as a members only space and soon grew into a hot, underground club pulling in some of the finest drum and bass and dubstep DJs.

Working a bar every weekend often meant I missed a lot of the big gigs elsewhere. In my final year at university I started DJing out a bit more getting a set at a tiny bar in Leicester called The Hub which had a great DIY feel and regular bunch of customers. House parties, again, were danceless affairs despite asking for my services as a DJ. Around this time I started falling out with the scene. Drugs were integral and it was very cliquey. If you weren't quaffing MDMA it was hard to integrate and I found most of the people boring. I'm personally very political and found the lack of politics, the rape jokes, materialism, sexism and so on really uncomfortable. Similarly, the clubs and gigs seemed to be dominated by faddish music (tropical etc.) and were all about getting off your tits, dropping tune after tune, which I like in moderation, but I was yearning for more nuanced music and sets from techno DJs and the like.

Since then and finishing university I've been floating around following jobs or postgrad degrees and haven't really settled down yet. Subsequently the dancing has had a hit too, being few and far between.

6. When and where did you last dance?

Aside from a shuffling my hips while mixing in my bedroom, it was unfortunately a while ago now, at the Brudenell in Leeds for Jeremiah Jae, Tokimonsta, Teebs and Daedelus.

I went along with a friend who usually listens to folk, indie and punk/riot grrl so it was an eye opening experience for her and it was nice to be the one who drew her out of her comfort zone, to share some new music and experiences with her. I distinctly remember she asked during the warm-up set, while we were sat drinking, how on earth you dance to such music. But as soon as Jeremiah Jae took to the decks and the crowd swelled she just started dancing without any kind of prompt or 'education', it just came naturally. Great night!

7. You’re on your death bed. What piece of music would make your leap up for one final dance?

That's a tricky one to answer. I have many favourite pieces of music for dancing to, but with something like techno, which is some of the music I listen to and mix the most, they're not records that I'd immediately jump up and dance to. Rather, I find with a lot of techno and other electronic music that the urge to dance follows on from all the music that has come previously in the set. There has to be a groove, so to speak. So I may hear a track that I absolutely love, but if I haven't been 'warmed up', if I'm not in that dancing trance, then I might not feel that immediate urge. Saying that, I remember walking past a tent at a festival and hearing Vitalic's performing Pony live and I just left my friends and ran into the tent.

To get back to the question though, there is music that does make me jump right up and that's usually hip-hop/funk kind of stuff. So, death bed track? That would probably have to be Hip Hop by Dead Prez. Soon as I hear that bassline, my mood perks up.

All questionnaires welcome, just answer the same questions - or even make up a few of your own - and send to transpontine@btinternet.com (see previous questionnaires).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tone Loc's Hip Hop Guitar

Tone Loc's 1989 Funky Cold Medina is both an old skool rap pop classic and a slightly dubious paean to slipping an aphrodisiac into women's drinks (and indeed dog bowls).

What I love about the video is this great fantasy instrument combining a record deck and a guitar, making visible hip hop's innovation in playing vinyl as an instrument. In this song in particular it is bits of guitar rock that are being played, with samples including bits of "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones, "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner and "Christine Sixteen" by Kiss (as well as some drum sounds from Funkadelic's "Get off your Ass and Jam").

Of course the instrument wouldn't really work - there aren't any guitar strings and you couldn't scratch without gravity pulling the stylus down - but hey, I would still love to have one to pose around the house with.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Priory Grove School Squat in Stockwell 1991/92

In the early 1990s, when I was living in Brixton, I went to some parties at a squatted school in Stockwell. I couldn't remember too many more details, other than them being very messy and crowded - I recall climbing through a toilet window to get in to one because they'd stopped letting people in.

Thanks to Urban75 I now know that it was the former Priory Grove school, a site later developed as flats. It seems to have been occupied in 1991/92, with travellers living on site as well as puting on parties. Someone who lived there recalled that 'The redevelopment started shortly after the eviction, I used to live in the main building until shortly after the last party got busted and we lost electricity. Some great parties there, winter of 1991/2. Rave on the ground floor. Bands on the first floor. Fairshare reggae sound system on the top floor'.

Some photos and a flyer have surfaced recently on facebook, the latter from 'The Dynamic Pig Posse of Priory Grove' advertising an event in January 1992 with bands including festival/squat circuit favourites RDF and Co-creators as well as 'hardcore acid'. I know one of the parties I went to there was in December 1991, because I found a copy of a letter I wrote at that time (to a Brixton guy who was in prison for the poll tax riot) in which I said 'I went to a rave at a squatted school in Stockwell last week, which was good. Downstairs they had a serious rave, upstairs there were bands playing. There was also a massage room, although I didn't use it myself'.

Lot of intense parties in that period in some amazing places, many of them completely undocumented online or anywhere else. So if you were there, let us know what you remember...

(Images from Chris the Poet)

Update, July 2023

Found a couple more flyers. This one with PSI Company, Poison Electric Head and Tribal Energy plus rave, vegan cafe, brain machines, circus acts, massage [found at 56a Info Shop]

This one from February 1992, apparently the last party and it didn't really happen as it got busted by police early on. So not sure how much maximum hardcore and weird shit garage got played.  This seemingly dormant blog has the full story. Flyer says 'it's not a gig it's a rave', interesting because I think there was a transition in the early 90s from squat parties with bands, through parties with both bands and sound systems, through to free parties with just the later. So this was on that cusp. 

[some great comments below including from some of those involved, have included a couple of extracts from Stuart and Nina's 2015 comments here:

'we lived in stockwell park cres and opened priory grove and brixton dole office with other squatters we didnt care about money and normally opened places put on seminal parties/gigs then let the breadheads take over' (Stuart)

'Remember the gym at Priory grove, you could swing on the ropes and bars. I did the fluo skeleton paintings along the wall in there., watch them dance... and the gyroscope, that used to be everywhere, in fact I think Stuart spent a lost weekend trapped in that thing.  Re - the money bit, we always tried to make a profit as the gigs were benefits and what may have looked like chaos did take a lot of work to get together. The general rule was no one got paid to play or to help run the bar, cafe, door, security on the night or for skipping for veg - all free from New Covent Garden skips, - stage building, decorating etc.etc. Any one was welcome to muck in and help run stuff. Everyone was expected to pay in for a benefit, at least a donation, including us I seem to remember.

The idea was to make back all the beer money & costs for the next gig and to have made money on top for the benefit. The choice of benefit was usually chosen by whoever was in charge of the particular event. The Hunt Sabs ran a regular cafe. Gigs were often for squatters advice groups, prisoner benefits (Poll Tax, Strangeways & political) and groups might come along and run an event.
Everybody wanted a chance to run a cafe or gig and some were a lot more successful at it than others! My thought was that if you didn't let people have a go then how would they learn that they could do it. We would have a lot of lively meetings, there were always hierarchies and cliques rising and falling, there were big talkers and quiet do-ers, fights and arguing was a staple of every meeting, it was a crazy experiment really, probably a miracle we ever managed to put an event together at all! But hey, we tried, and we had some great nights but the no leaders approach surely took a mental toll and an awful lot of thrashing out to get a result!' (Nina)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Worker-Dandyist International

Have posted here before on proletarian dandyism, and one day will get around to writing some more about Decadent Action, clean living in difficult circumstances and the ghetto fabulous politics of refusing austerity by dressing above your 'station' in life.

For now I merely note the existence (at least in the blogosphere) of The Worker-Dandyist International - 'For a working class with class' - with a manifesto that declares: 'Proletarian revolution is not, as enemies of the class insist, about universally lowering living standards to the level we plebs are currently forced to live at. It is about raising our living standards to the highest levels achievable... We define our Dandyism, in essence, as simply making as much of an effort as possible with the limited resources available. An effort in sartorial flair and individuality, an effort in civility, social responsibility and courtesy, and an effort in communal culture, welfare and hedonism. Our definition of Dandyism will most certainly conflict with the pompous elitists’ definition of Dandyism. Of course, we embrace and encourage popinjays, peacocks and coxcombs but we shall dispense with the conceitedness associated with such terms in favour of community and kindness'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

England in the Spring: police and parties

'Illegal raves thwarted by police in villages' (Bedford Today, 16 May 2011)

'Three illegal raves were thwarted by police over the bank holiday in Bedfordshire villages. The first rave was disrupted on Friday night in Lidlington at a site off Sheep Lane. The following evening officers prevented a second rave from being set up in the Steppingley area. Police intercepted a convoy of ten vehicles, three of which contained sound equipment which was seized. The drivers and passengers were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance. A third rave was closed down in the early hours of Sunday morning at a site off Cobblers Lane in Ridgmont. Officers dispersed around 400 people, while organisers were told their sound system would be seized if they did not comply with the order'.

'Sussex Police deal with three raves in 12 hours' (Argus, 2 May 2011)

'Police were called out to deal with three raves in 12 hours. About 200 people started setting up equipment for a party at Devils Dyke, near Brighton, at around 6.40pm on Friday sparking a series of calls to Sussex Police. Officers went out to the scene and had eventually moved everyone on by 9pm.

The police control centre then started getting reports of a similar sized group gathering in North Road in the city centre and around the seafront just before 9pm. Officers were drafted in to monitor the area and once again started moving the party-goers on. Most were dispersed relatively quickly although a “small hard-core” group ignored requests to go and stayed in the area until midnight.

Police were then alerted at around 12.15am on Saturday that another group of around 50 people had gathered on the Downs just north of Hollingbury. Officers were sent out for the third time to investigate and order the music to be turned off and the rave abandoned. Partygoers began to drift away and police returned to the scene several times during the night. The final few people had gone by 8.30am on Saturday'.

'Police cars attacked as hundreds party at rave on Saddleworth Moor' (Manchester Evening News, 3 May 2011)

'Hundreds of revellers descended on an isolated moor for a rave – and attacked police cars when officers tried to break up the party. The ravers are thought to have travelled to Saddleworth Moor from all over the north west after details and directions were circulated on the internet. Police were called in early yesterday. But yobs smashed the windows of two patrol cars and a third vehicle – a Ford Focus – was set alight. The blaze spread to grassland before being put out by firefighters at around 3.10am. No arrests were made as the ravers fled – but a police investigation is continuing.

The party was held in the remains of an old shepherd’s cottage off the A635 Greenfield to Holmfirth road. Ravers are thought to have arrived with booze, generators to blast out music and a tarpaulin to cover the roof of the cottage. The building, which belongs to nearby Uppermill House farm, is derelict. The land is used to keep sheep'.

'Illegal Rave Shut Down' (Diss Express, 6 May 2011)

'Police disrupted and seized sound equipment and a generator at an illegalrave in Dickleburgh last Friday. The event was reported just after 8am following concerns from members of the local community. Officers attended a field off the A140 and found the event was being run illegally and not as an official street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Supt Stuart Gunn said: “This event was disrupted before many had arrived at the site, largely due to the vigilance of local people who contacted police with their concerns. This is in line with Norfolk Constabulary’s firm approach to policing raves, which are potentially dangerous and disrupt those communities affected.”'

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Common Controversy

Controversy in the States about the participation of Common in a poetry night at the White House this week.

The usual Fox News right wing pundits lined up, with Karl Rove denouncing Common as a 'thug' advocating 'violence against police officers' and 'killling the former President of the United States, George W Bush' and Sarah Palin ranting 'You know, the White House's judgment on inviting someone who would glorify cop killing during Police Memorial Week, of all times, you know, the judgment, it's just so lacking of class and decency and all that's good about America'.

New Jersey cops have also been wheeled out to stir up outrage about Common's A Song for Assata from 2000. Assata Shakur was convicted of murder following a 1973 shoot out in New Jersey in which both a police officer and a member of the Black Liberation Army were killed. She protested her innocence and later escaped from prison, gaining political asylum in Cuba. The FBI still has a price on her head as 'a domestic terrorist' on the run. I don't believe the US authorities are chasing up FBI and police officers for their involvement in the murderous Cointelpro operation against the Black Panthers and others in that same period.

In the Spirit of the Black Panthers.
In the Spirit of Assata Shakur.
We make this movement towards freedom
Police questioned but shot before she answered
One Panther lost his life, the other ran for his
Scandalous the police were as they kicked and beat her
Assata had been convicted of a murder she couldna done
Medical evidence shown she couldna shot the gun
She untangled the chains and escaped the pain
How she broke out of prison I could never explain
And even to this day they try to get to her
but she's free with political asylum in Cuba.

Incidentally that Cee Lo Green singing 'I'm thinkin' of Assata... Your power and pride, so beautiful."

The strategy of the Republican Right is to present President Obama as a dangerous black radical. Would that it were true... in reality, Obama is clearly petrified of making any move that would provide ammunition for this, so historic injustices continue on his watch. Sundiata Acoli has again been refused parole after 38 years in prison for the 1973 New Jersey incident that Shakur was convicted. Mumia Abu-Jamal is still on death row.

I guess KRS-One won't be performing Free Mumia on the White House lawn anytime soon.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Classic Party Scenes (8): The Girl with Green Eyes

The Girl with Green Eyes, starring Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave, is a 1964 film based on Edna O'Brien's novel The Lonely Girl about a brief affair between a working class shop girl up from the country and an older landowner.

It might not win too many prizes for its Irish accents, but it does retain some interest for its Dublin street scenes, and a great episode based around a night out dancing in a nightclub. Dancers are seen twisting on the floor to a live showband, and later in couples.

The scene is the Four Provinces Ballroom (or as it says on the sign 4 Provinces), which was apparently in Dublin's Harcourt Street and later became known as the Television Club before it was demolished in around 1990.

The Rita Tushingham character has to sit out the dancing, as she's forgotten her dancing shoes, but I love her modish look in this scene with button down collar, tie and braces.

The nightclub scene kicks in around 6:30 into the film.

Lots more Dublin music and cultural history at Come here to me!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Yokohama Street Art (1994)

I wish I'd taken some more and better photos during my one and only trip to Japan, back in the 1990s. But I remember wandering around Yokohama and coming across this seemingly endless strip of graffiti, I think it was underneath a railway line. Interesting that it features quite a bit of English language text.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Smash Hits Disco Chart September 1979

Getting totally addicted to Like Punk Never Happened: Brian McCluskey's Smash Hits Archive. Whole issues of the late 1970s/early 1980s UK pop magazine scanned in for you to browse at your leisure. So much stuff in there: photos, lyrics, gig listings, charts. Just the disco chart alone will keep me going for months.

So here's the disco chart from September 20 1979 (click to enlarge), complete with BPM for all you DJs. Looking at it they seemed to define disco rather broadly - reggae gets a look in with Matumbi and Eddie Grant. Could call it a black music chart, though Ian Dury and Roxy Music also feature. Guess it's all music that might be played in a disco, which is fair enough. Anyway The Crusaders' Street Life was number one, with Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire and Rose Royce all present and correct, among others.

Have a dig around in Smash Hits and let me know what you find - there's treasure in there of all kinds (post-punk, disco, reggae, pop...)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Tibetan Hip Hop

Hip hop has provided a voice for rebels in the recent uprisings in North Africa, notably in Tunisia. So perhaps not surprisingly other repressive regimes are scouring the internet for the signs of rap-borne revolt.

The Chinese government has apparently attempted to censor a recent hip hop video by Tibetans living in Switzerland, seeking to have it removed from some web platforms. The content of the Shapale song is relatively politically innocuous - it plays on the dual meaning of Shapale as a tibetan meat pie and a slap on the bum. But seemingly the fact that it expresses sentiments of Tibetan pride is enough to draw it to the attention of the state.

(the name of the artist isn't stated on this video - anybody know? Love the use of the pastry 'medallion', put me in mind of Flavor Flav - this kid certainly knows what time it is)

This is by no means the only example of Tibetan hip hop. For instance, High Peaks Pure Earth last year featured a track from a group called Green Dragon, based in the Amdo region of Tibet. Some good lines in here 'See the polluted sky and know, We can't afford to wait for tomorrow's sunrise, Now wake up...'

"New Generation" by Yudrug (Green Dragon) from HPeaks on Vimeo.

Dance before the Police Come in Datacide

My recent article for Datacide magazine, Dance Before the Police Come, has now been published on their website:

'Shut Up and Dance’s 1991 hardcore LP ‘Dance Before the Police Come’ was released at a time when the UK authorities were struggling to contain the massive explosion of raves. Thousands of people each weekend were playing a cat and mouse game with the police to party in fields and warehouses, and if the state was often outwitted by meeting points in motorway service stations and convoys of cars, it tried to keep the lid on the phenomenon by staging high profile raids. In 1990, for instance, an incredible 836 people were arrested at a Love Decade party in Gildersome near Leeds in the north of England.

Since then the global spread of Electronic Dance Music has generally been accompanied by the flashing blue light, the siren, and that moment when the music is abruptly turned off and the order given to clear the building. Indeed, let’s face it, the frisson of illegality has sometimes added a pleasurable edge to partying – the thrill of overcoming official obstacles just to get there, of getting one over on the authorities. And even the most mainstream of commercial club promoters like to pose as underground outlaws because they once got told to turn the music down by a man in uniform.

But police raids are serious business – often involving arrests which can lead to imprisonment, people losing their livelihoods and, in some parts of the world, social ostracism. People get injured, beaten and sometimes even killed. This article looks at a sample of police raids in recent times to get a sense of the current state of play between cops and dancers in different parts of the world'.

Read the full article here.

I note that Peverelist has just released a track called Dance Til the Police Come, very timely as he comes from Bristol:

Unlike the 1991 Shut Up and Dance track, Dance Before the Police Come, Peverelist doesn't sample Duran Duran in his version!