20 years ago - on 2 August 1997 - the second Summer Rites lesbian and gay free festival was held in Brixton's Brockwell Park. Coming just a few week after Pride, which had been held not far away in Clapham Common, the programme declared 'In no way is the event a rival to Pride but rather a compliment, an addition, a festival where London's lesbians and gays can have their own party'. The main organisers were Kim Lucas and Wayne Shires, the latter of whom also ran Substation South, recently opened as a gay club in Brighton Terrace in Brixton.
The first event took place a year earlier in Kennington Park. I don't remember too much about it apart from seeing Gina G - the Australian singer who sang for the UK at the 1996 Eurovision song contest in Oslo. But I did record in my diary:
'August 3rd 1996: Summer Rites in Kennington, a lesbian and gay free festival for London. Drum and bass in the Queer Nation tent, a mixture of pumping house and eurotrash in the Love Muscle tent, one minute it was hard trance and the next it was Gina G ('oo ah just a little bit') with paper confetti raining on the dancers to deflate any techno boy seriousness. The inevitable cheesy cover versions too, including a terrible/wonderful Oasis cover that sounded as if it was off the same production line as Berri’s sunshine after the rain. The DTPM tent was heaving, almost but not quite as frenzied as its effort with Trade at Pride' [I think there had been a DTPM/Trade tent at Pride shortly before]
In Brockwell Park 1997 the main stage featured live acts such as Jimmy Sommerville, David McAlmont, Ultra Nate and Barbara Tucker, introduced by comperes incuding Amy Lame, Divine David, Rhona Cameron and Graham Norton.
The park also included some big dance tents put on by some of the main LGBT clubs at that time, including Love Muscle (regularly held at the Fridge in Brixton), DTPM (hard house night at The End), Popstarz (the gay indie club held at the Scala in Kings Cross), FIST and Queer Nation (the last two both at Substation South, the former a fetish/techno night and the latter known for its more soulful house and garage sounds).
|Brockwell Park site plan
We had our young kids with us, aged 10 months and five, the former dancing on our shoulders, the latter 'fascinated by the scantily clad podium dancers - a toplesss woman with netting over her face and a man in a minute metal kilt. 'Why are they showing their bottoms?' he asked'.
|Queer Nation after party at SubStation South, with DJs Francesco Simonit, Jeffrey Hinton and Supadon.