In 2009 I wrote an article on the history of mixing in this country called ‘How The Talking Stopped’. It was the most in depth piece I’d ever written, the research alone had taken many months, including a couple of trips to the British Library in London to comb through the copies of Record Mirror they have archived there, for it was within this magazine that the person who I’d certainly argue did more to promote UK DJ culture than any other human being, connected (via his essential weekly dance column) with fellow DJs in every corner of the country. This was the literally larger than life James Hamilton (1942-1996), and if you’re a British DJ, whether you’ve heard of him or not, you can’t have escaped his influence, for he’s part of the very fabric of our DJ / club heritage.
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During recent times I’ve been intrigued to hear about the growing schism on the House scene here in the UK, brought about by the introduction, primarily by young black dancers, of ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way. The accusation is that not only do they take up too much dancefloor space, but there’s a general ‘moodiness’ with regards to their attitude. Although it no longer seems to be online, there was even an ‘Anti Foot Shuffling Campaign’ page on Facebook, with some of the posts suggesting underlying issues of racism. As one person commented, “It’s not that all these people on here hate shufflers, they just don’t like fact that black people are into House music now.” Although this comment may be well intentioned, it’s also somewhat misguided given there are, and always have been, plenty of black people in the UK who are big into House – it’s just that their presence is usually to be found away from the mainstream, in more specialist avenues like the Deep and Soulful House scenes. Furthermore, some of the older black crowd are also resistant to this new wave of shuffling, so to present it as a purely black / white issue would be wrong.
I want to give you a heads up on a new book that focuses on the evolution of black music radio in London during the ’80s. ‘Masters Of The Airwaves – The Rise And Rise Of Underground Radio’ is the labour of love of 2 influential figures from the period, Dave VJ and Lindsay Wesker. The book is presented as a series of interviews with the great and the good of London’s pirate and specialist radio back in the day (plus a few Northern exceptions) .
During the 1980s Morgan Khan was viewed as a ‘dance music mogul’, a true instigator who enriched British culture via his unyielding efforts, driven by ‘an ego’, as Blues & Soul once put it, ‘bordering on the manic’ – Khan was (and remains) a force of nature. The fact that his absolutely pivotal contribution to the UK dance movement is constantly ignored remains a great travesty. If you know nothing about his Street Sounds label your knowledge of how dance culture developed in this country is terminally flawed – it’s as simple as that.
Last month I was over in Chicago chilling out in my hotel room ahead of my first gig in the city, at Smart Bar, a venue with a rich tradition, which opened back in 1982. Chicago is, of course, along with Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, revered as a key US city when it comes to the evolution of dance culture (and, indeed, black culture, with, way before House, a deep heritage in Rhythm & Blues, Blues and Jazz, dating right back to the ‘great migration’ of black workers from the southern states, beginning just over 100 years ago).
You don’t know how happy I am to be able to tell you that, after months and months of chipping away, the new redesigned revitalized Electrofunkroots website is now live and kicking, having undergone a complete overhaul, with loads of new content added. Full menu here:
Sad to hear about the untimely passing of DJ Streets Ahead (Shem McCauley) one of the UK’s pioneering scratch & cut exponents, who’d re-invent himself in the mid-’90s as the successful dance music producer, Slacker. More recently he moved to Bangkok, Thailand, which is where he died (cause of death is still unconfirmed).