The house scene began in 1987 when several British DJs. including Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold, returned from the Spanish Island of lbiza armed with a new style of music. The ‘Balearic’ scene they had discovered involved DJs playing black American dance music next to eclectic holiday tunes — and the designer drug Ecstasy. Back in London, the newly enlightened DJs set about re-creating the lbizan vibe.
These lbizan reunions quickly turned into regular club nights - Oak'enfold’s Project night and Rampling’s Shoom - later acquiring legendary. status. Whether the DJs knew what they were doing-gifs debatableq'ibut those first clubs ignited a new, musical phenomenon and kickstartedwhat we‘now‘knowas club culture.
By 1988. the whole country was gripped by acid house fever. Young people suddenly started dancing strangely and shouting ‘AClEEED!’ In those heady days. innocence was the key: dance music was a new experience. a classic. rebellious youth culture in the making. The attitude was: ‘We’re young, we love music, we love drugs. we love each other. we want to dance all night and everything else is meaningless.’ One nation under a groove, spurred on by one fantastical. chemically- induced spiritual high.
The social repercussions were enormous, rivalling punk a decade earlier in terms of notoriety. This time Ecstasy, not amphetamines, was the drug of choice, hugging replaced
‘Clubbing is such a personal thing for people. Someone could be off their face at a club in a small town somewhere dancing to an unknown DJ, but they still have the same experience as the person in a big club listening to a huge DJ.’
gobbing and there were Kickers and dungarees instead of Doc Martins and bondage gear.
The ensuing tabloid frenzy attempted to induce a moral panic. but failed to stop acid house spreading to every corner of the country.
Remember what it was like? Raves in fields, warehouse parties. meetings in service stations, ‘smiley’ culture. dungarees, bandanas, gas masks. Vicks. tops off, whistles, white gloves, lightsticks. ridiculous dancing, getting loved up on your first ‘E’, hugging strangers, talking nonsense, losing your inhibitions and feeling good about yourself— even if it was chemically induced. The hippy peace/love/drugs/music ideals from the 605 were turned on their head.
The emerging club culture allowed a whole generation of young people to make a living out of their clubbing‘experiences. lt created an industry with jobs in making music, launching indie labels, opening specialist dance music shops. promoting club-nights, running booking agencies for DJs and creating new magazines.
In the last few years. however, a more cynical agenda has operated. almost burying the music’s hedonistic roots. The line which separates the underground from the mainstream or ‘us from them’ has never been thinner — house music is big business.
Scottish author Alan Warner’s debut novel Morvem Callar followed an Oban girl to lbiza’s rave scene. A contributor to Disco Biscuits, he has witnessed the change in club culture. ‘Seven or eight years ago when I lived
in Ibiza, clubbing was a great experience,’ he says. ‘The music was underground. we’d never heard anything like it before, but now the music and the clubs have become so much a part of
mainstream culture that it’s almost conservative.’ The difference between a ‘club’ and a
‘discotheque’ is now minimal. Everyone goes clubbing these days, and some, including Warner. feel the house scene has
uniqueness. ‘You’ve got to move on, like the i‘ music moves on.’ he says. ‘Dance music iS‘
good for advertising cat food these days. I haven’t been to Stringfellows yet. but 1 have a far better time going to [mainstream London disco] The Limelight, listening to pop music and snogging Japanese tourists than I do at “club."’.’
More positively, dance music is stronger than ever. It has infiltrated the media, fashion. design and literary worlds. lt dominates the charts. DJs are the new pop stars, club tlyers have replaced posters on bedroom walls. and kids want decks and dancing, not guitars and gigs. Club culture is a global phenomenon, with dance music now
Early 808 American DJs use new technology. particularly the electronic drum machine. to create new music. They are inspired by European electro artists like Yello. Can and Kraftwerk. plus the sounds of go go. Philly soul. R & B and the 705 disco and gay scenes.
Sept 1985 Farley ‘Jackmaster‘ Funk‘s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ hits the UK charts.
1986 Chicago producers DJ Pierre and partner Spanky use the Roland 303 bass synthesiser to create the blueprint for ‘acid house’.
1986 The Hoochie Coochie Club is Edinburgh’s first contemporary dance music all-nighter.
1985 Glasgow’s Sub Club opens.
Jan 1987 Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley‘s ‘Jack Your Body’ reaches number four in UK charts.
Oct 1987 M/A/R/R/S’ ‘Pump Up The Volume’ tops the charts.
Oct 1988 D’Mob’s ‘We Call It Acieed’ charts. 1983 Detroit producers Derrick May. Kevin
DISCO BISCUITS FEATURE
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Sarah Champion: party animal since fifteen years old emerging out of Portugal. Paris, Germany, Australia and Japan.
The most exciting acts today. Oasis aside. are arguably The Prodigy, Underworld. Leftﬁeld, Bjork, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. They manifest the heart-stopping brilliance and infinite .potential of a constantly evolving movement. Genres range from ambient and trip hop, garage and nu-soul, deep, hard and
lost itsggﬁptfogressive house. through hardbag and nu-nrg,
‘up‘f‘totrance, techno,jungle and drum ’n’ bass. When acid house ﬁrst swept across Britain.
the critics said'it wouldn't last. Ten years on, it
Continues to-dominate the nation’s pop culture. The people involved are rightly proud, protective and passionate about what they’ve achieved.
in another decade. when indie-rock is a distant memory, we’ll look back and realise that we were there, we were making history. Disco Biscuits is published by Sceptre at £6.99. The double Disco Biscuits CD will be released on Coalition Recordings. I7 F eb, and the tour with appearances by authors and DJs will come to Mayfest, Glasgow.
Saunderson and Juan Atkins pioneer what later becomes known as ‘techno’. 1988 Original acid house clubs The Project. Spectrum. and Shoom kickstart the UK’s club culture.
1988The first large scale rave events Biology. Energy and Sunrise take place in England.
1988 Slam launch Scotland’s first acid house club at Tin Pan Alley, Glasgow.
1993 Rezerection stages Scotland’s biggest ever dance party — l3.000 attend the outdoor rave at lngliston.
1994 The Government introduces the Criminal Justice Bill, partly in an attempt to crack down on raves.
1995 Tribal Gathering, dance music’s Glastonbury. takes place in England despite bureaucratic attempts to stop it.
March 1997 Muzik magazine tours university campuses lecturing on the dance music industry.
The List 24 Jan-6 Feb 199711