Thursday, June 29, 2023

Feminist discos/male violence (South London 1977)

An account of violence against women in the vicinity of feminist discos 'in the South London area'  in 1977. Slightly frustrating for a South London based historian that there are no details of the location or venues, but I guess the point is this was happening in many places.

Source is Women's Voice, August 1977. The women's magazine of the Socialist Workers Party was controversially closed down by the Party leadership in 1981 as it sought to centralise its control.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Speed (and other club listings), i-D 1995

Club listings from i-D magazine,  no. 135, April 1995, covering lots of places in Britain and Ireland, but with the photos all from legendary drum'n'bass club Speed, including shots of DJ Kemistry and Goldie. I remember dancing to the former there alongside the latter on the dancefloor. 

Tony Marcus writes: 'For the last couple of months, Speed (Thursdays at Mars, Sutton Row, W1) has been playing London's most futuristic, raw, experimental and sci-fi grooves. Resident DJs Fabio and LTJ Bukem spin the latest drum'n'bass sounds on dubplate for a crowd that regularly includes junglist heads like Goldie, 4 Hero, Nookie, DJ Rap, DJ Ron, DJ Crystl, Deep Blue and A Guy Called Gerald. The sounds are immaculate: divine harmonies and crystalline breaks that wash, float and massage the dancefloor. A few stray hippies and tantric types take the floor for some wildly expressive dancing, while small groups of skinny boys lean against the speakers and solemnly nod to the rhythms. The vibe is relaxed, chemical-free and unites musicians, music lovers and dancers for a few hours of sonic bliss. And at times it looks like a scene from William Gibson, as sci-fi skate and B-boy fashions collide under sounds for the next millennium. Recommended'.

i-D, April 1995, cover star Nikki Umbertti

Speed reviewed by Dom Phillips in Mixmag, January 1996:

'Speed was the brainchild of a young man called Leo, formerly employed in the dance department of A&M Records. He met Bukem hanging out in the legendary Basement Records in Reading, through breakbeat producer and shop owner Basement Phil. "Just basically wanted to hear the music I was into  under one roof," explains Leo. "l didn't want no big PR, just word of mouth. Because musically it's intelligent and it's Central London, you're gonna get the people you want".

So you get an older, more mixed crowd, into the music, there to dance, not show off nor take their shirts off. At  |Speed there's a quiet, determined appreciation of the  best drum n' bass has to offer and the hands and feet are  frequently flailing in delight come midnight. No attitudes,  just good vibes and even better sounds. No wonder   peed is perhaps the best midweek night London has got. 

"It's a personal thing down there," says Leo, paying respect for the hard work put in by his resident DJ crew of Kemistry and Storm, DJ Lee and of course Bukem and  Fabio. "l didn't want to turn it into a trendy West End  thing. It was just a room that felt good. I was lucky because I knew [club owner] Nicky Holloway..." 

[post last updated 18/12/2023 with added Mixmag article]

See also other listings posts:

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Tales from a Disappearing City

Tales from a Disappearing City is a new youtube podcast from DJ Controlled Weirdness (Neil Keating) exploring untold subcultural stories from subterranean London. First few episodes have featured Ian/Blackmass Plastics and Howard Slater and centred around 1990s techno and free parties, with a common thread being the Dead by Dawn club in Brixton. But an emerging theme is that people are not confined to one scene and there are lots of connections linking apparently separate subcultures - each of our lives being a thread that join the dots across time and space.

So now it's my turn, in the first of two episodes me and Neil focus on the early/mid-1980s and my experience of growing up in Luton, in the orbit of London but with its own scenes. We covered a lot of ground including:

- being a 'paper boy punk' - slightly too young to take part in first wave punk and first encountering it in tabloid outrage;
- punk in Luton (including UK Decay, their Matrix record shop, and anarcho-punk band Karma Sutra);
- the open possibilities of post-punk, as exemplified on the Rough Trade/NME C81 compilation (which I misdescribe as C82 in the interview!)
- seeing Mark Stewart and The Pop Group at the Ally Pally and at CND demo
- GLC festivals and events including the one where fascists attacked the Redskins and the Test Dept extravanganza (which Neil went to but I didn't)
- Luton 33 Arts Centre -  a link connecting the later 1960s Artslab scene through to punk and beyond;
- the influence of 1950s style in the 80s, clothes shopping at Kensington Market and Flip;
- seeing Brion Gysin speak in Bedford library;
- Compendium bookshop in Camden;
- Anarcho punk including Conflict at Thames Poly and my hobby horse about No Defences being the greatest band in that scene even if they never really put out a record;
- the limits of the Crass and Southern studios sonic/stylistic/political template and how the actual scene was more diverse;
- punk squat gigs at the Old Kent Road ambulance station and at Kings Cross.

In the second episode me and Neil move on to late 1980s and 90s and discuss things including:

- Pre-rave clubbing - rare groove, Jay Strongman's Dance Exchange at the Fridge, Brixton; Wendy May's Locomotion in Kentish Town; the PSV in Manchester;
- the early 90s 'crusty' squat scene - RDF, Back to the Planet, Ruff Ruff & Ready and related squat parties at Cool Tan (Brixton), behind Joiners Arms in Camberwell and school in Stockwell;
- the free party scene partly emerging from this, parties in Hackney Bus garage etc.;
- 'world music' clubs including the Mambo Inn (Loughborough Hotel, Brixton) and the Whirl-y-gig (which I went to at Shoreditch Town Hall and Neil in Leicester Square at Notre Dame Hall, also scene of famous Sex Pistols gig);
- Criminal Justice Act and getting into history of dance music scenes; 
- Megatripolis at Heaven and emergence of psychedelic trance;
-  1990s clubbing explosion - so called 'Handbag House' clubs - Club UK, Leisure Lounge, Turnmills, Aquarium etc.;
- 'clean living in difficult circumstances' - glam house clubbing wear as extension of mod sharp dressing continuum;
- superclubs and superstar DJs including Fatboy Slim vs Armand Van Helden at Brixton Academy (1999)
- the Association of Autonomous Astronauts - Disconaut division.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Soviet Union Disco Style 1982

'the showy disco style caught on and is now seen in dance halls and at parties. The long dress, inconvenient for modern dances, has given way to narrow satin trousers and all sorts of tops'. This is clearly a fashion shoot, not sure how much this represents what people were actually wearing out in clubs.

The article was apparently originally published in Siluett, a long running fashion magazine produced in Tallinn (now capital of Estonia), a place 'sufficiently far enough away from the Soviet mainstream to allow relatively liberated experiments in popular culture to take place' according to an article about the magazine