Oi Polloi

Ten Things They Didn’t Tell You About 1990s Clubbing

Published: Fri Jan 28 2011

OiPolloi recently stumbled across the following article on Antony Teasdale’s blog site, and he’s kindly let us re-publish it here. Who’s Tony Teasdale you ask? No, not a over-excitable kids TV presenter, guess again… the editor of ace new online magazine Umbrella? Yes, that’s right. He’s also a proud Scouser, who against all odds thinks the iPad was designed and built in Kirkby (it was actually Miles Platting, Tone). For that fact alone I’d take the following article with a pinch of salt.

Last thing to note – the image above is from the ace book by photographer Gavin Watson,‘Raving ‘89’ published by our friends at DJHistory.com

Anyway, over to Antony…

You’ve probably seen the brilliant video for Chase and Status’ Blind Faith tune (OiPolloi supplied the vintage Henri Lloyd jacket worn by one of the main protagonists). The video is a fake documentary / home movie set in rave’s golden era between 1988-92 (it looks like 1990 if we’re being specific), it shows the events leading up to – and including – a warehouse party in the north of England. It’s so accurate, it’s frightening and like the best pieces of nostalgia it makes the viewer feel very old and very young at the same time.

As I was lucky enough to go to some of these events (yeah, I’m cool) – and then make a paltry living out of the scene as it grew, I thought it prescient to highlight some of the things about the – ahem – movement that often get overlooked. Or put to put it more specifically, all the things that were crap about it…

1) Pulling was looked down upon. There you are, just old enough to start getting hold of drunk girls in nightclubs and then acid house gets invented and suddenly getting off with women “is for teds”. Unless you’re a drug dealer/rave organizer/member of the underworld, that is, in which case all that being-mates-with-a-bird is for everyone else, you’ve got a threesome sorted. Top one.

2) The scene’s endemic, nauseating smugness.

3) Ugly fellas with long perms being inexplicably popular with women. And owning keyboards at the same time.

4) People trying to make a connection with a bunch of drug-addled townies in baggy Ben Sherman shirts and the indigenous peoples of South America and their use of peyote.

5) The obsession with mixing (and I was boss at it, so I’ve got nothing to lose here), meaning the slew of UK house records between 1992 and 1996 consisted of endless bars of drums going boom-boom-boom just so pricks with cheapo Soundlab decks could mix them in their bedroom. And then sending off their same-as-everyone-else mix tapes off to Cream/Ministry/Back to Basics in the vain hope of getting a gig.

6) Discos that had once been the preserve of maniacs fresh out of borstal putting nights on called things like “Taste” or “Elegance”, also full of maniacs fresh out of borstal, but this time in Nick Coleman/John Richmond T-shirts.

7) The fashion around 1993-95 for fellas to “dress up“ in silly striped kecks, blag Patrick Cox shoes and massive, massive white shirts – all topped off with a Kangol cap, worn backwards.

8) Bricklayers coming to terms with their latent homosexuality and “experimenting” with drag queens in the toilets of horrible clubs in the West Midlands – usually while wearing silver trousers.

9) DJs all playing the same records, as they stopped actually buying tunes and just spun the ones they – and everyone else – had been sent by promotions companies that week… And getting huge amounts of wedge for the pleasure of doing so.

10) Back-to-mine, after-club get-togethers, where nine people on bad drugs would talk about themselves and pretend to be more wasted than they actually were, while the flat’s resident amateur DJ tried to impress everyone by endless practicing Sasha’s Leftfield/Whitney Houston mix – the Stairway to Heaven of wannabe record-spinners.