How Clubbing Changed The World

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).

Checking out my emails, there were a few messages from people who weren’t aware that I was out of the country, asking if I’d watched the Channel 4 programme, ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’, which had been broadcast that night, and pointing me to a Facebook thread where a heated discussion was taking place, some people criticising the show for what it had chosen to disregard, others enjoying the trip down memory lane, regardless of what might have been left out, thankful that there was something half-decent to watch on a Friday night. I also had a look on Twitter, where the majority of people seemed positive about the programme, although this was peppered with the odd dissenting voice, asking why this or that hadn’t been included in the show’s Top 40 key moments in clubbing history.

Even though it was available to view online, I wasn’t able to watch it until my return to the UK. In the meantime I had a look on a couple of the dance forums, to see what had been said, including Faithfanzine, the home of one of London’s key movers and shakers of the Acid-House / Rave movement, Terry Farley, who, as I’d expected, had been interviewed for the programme, and it was interesting to read what he had to say. He was particularly critical of fact that Hip Hop hadn’t been covered, asking ‘how the fuck can you do a show about dance music and not mention Hip Hop?’  He was then informed that the company behind the programme, Fresh One, had already produced ‘How Hip Hop Changed The World’ in 2011. This splitting of 2 previously firmly connected forms is, I believe, one of the main reasons that the early ’80s era, which I’m constantly banging on about as crucial to our understanding of how dance culture developed in the way it did, is continually miscomprehended and, as a result, totally underplayed, time and time again.

In reply to a complaint that ‘the whole programme failed to portray the mix of music that has taken place in dance music clubs’, Farley responded; ‘I did my best to keep on repeating ‘ nothing started in ’88 and explained how thousands upon thousands would be dancing in Warehouses in the mid ’80s BUT of course they have a show ready and just wanted quotes to fit the shows template.’ In defence of this criticism the producers of the programme would surely point out that they touched on a few things, like New York Disco and Northern Soul in the ’70s, as well as pirate radio in the pre-Rave period, but this was but a fraction of the overall content, the impression being that not a lot of note happened before the big bang of ’88, which would take what was previously the domain of the underground squarely into mainstream focus.

At this point I should explain that, although I hadn’t yet seen it, and didn’t know it was coming on that weekend, I was fully aware that ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ was imminent, because back in April I’d been approached by the programme and asked to contribute, selecting, in order of importance, 25 ‘defining moments’ from a list they’d compiled. I was also invited to let them know if there was something I felt had been missed out. I agreed to look through the list, but with some trepidation; ‘On the surface the programme sounds brilliant, but it always concerns me that we’ll get the same old story – DJs go to Ibiza in 1987 and it all kicks in from there’. Having looked through it I concluded that this wasn’t a programme I wished to personally endorse, and I emailed to politely decline, explaining my reasons:

I have to say that it is largely the same old story – there are big gaping holes as far as the black / dance music scene of the ’70s / early-mid ’80s are concerned, and on that basis I wouldn’t want to participate in rating your selections. Apart from Kiss FM and Goldie, I don’t think that black culture in this country is covered at all. The biggest omissions in my eyes are (in no specific order):

1. The release of ‘Planet Rock’ by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force in 1982, the record that split the atom as far as electronic dance music is concerned – its importance isn’t even mentioned in the entry about Kraftwerk, even though it pre-dates (and serves to influence) the Techno movement you do mention.

2. The Street Sounds Electro series, which set the standard with regards to UK dance compilations, and introduced dance music to a whole new pre-Rave generation – it was also the first series of mixed albums.

3.The Soul / Jazz-Funk All-Dayer scene of the ’70s and early ’80s, where people were travelling up and down the country to rave well before there were raves.

4. The magazines that promoted black / dance culture during the ’70s – Blues & Soul, Black Echoes, Record Mirror, and the specialist radio DJs who pioneered via the airwaves.

5. The explosion of breakdancing in shopping centres throughout the UK in ’83 and ’84, where many young white kids first met their black counterparts and discovered black / dance culture.

6. Cut & Paste – from NYC’s Steinski in the mid-’80s through Coldcut in the UK and via seminal UK dance releases like M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up The Volume’, Bomb Da Bass ‘Beat Dis’, S Express ‘Theme From S Express’ and Coldcut’s ‘Doctorin’ The House’.

7. The introduction of the 12″ single – a revolution in itself.

8. The mods in the ’60s, and their R&B All-Nighters in cities like London and Manchester, from which the Northern Soul scene would be born.

9. Tamla Motown – the UK’s greatest dance label of all (American music, but Tamla and Motown were, along with Gordy, Soul and others, separate labels under the Motown umbrella Stateside).

I concluded by stating; ‘I’m sorry I can’t be more positive, but from the list of stuff you sent, although I’m sure it’ll be a successful programme for Fresh One, it still falls well short in projecting the fuller picture, relying mainly on the tried and tested tales as is the norm, which is fine if you’re only interested in the surface of things, but it misses the mark with regards to depth.’

I suppose that this is the crux of the matter – do you want a show that will really get to the core of how club culture emerged, and subsequently changed the world, or do you want a couple of hours of quick-fire feelgood entertainment, which although somewhat disjointed, is pretty slick in its presentation and contains a little bit of something for everyone. ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ was always going to be the latter, a fast-moving collection of clips that, even if you didn’t like / agree with what was being shown, you knew there was another ‘moment’ imminent.

Further to this, as I noticed someone point out on Twitter, the programme seemed to have a firm eye on the US, where dance culture, on a commercial level, has finally hit paydirt. This was illustrated when the narration stated that ‘our special relationship with the USA may have got just a little bit more special’ in reference to this development.  The choice of the presenter also suggests this intention – Idris Elba has major kudos across the Atlantic playing the drug lord Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell in ‘The Wire’. Away from acting, Elba DJs and records under the name DJ Big Driis, which, in his role as host, gave him a further level of authenticity / authority. Add the fact he’s regarded as something of a sex symbol, and it was a very shrewd choice (no doubt his own, given that he co-produced the show, so much so that its title was elongated to ‘Idris Elba’s How Clubbing Changed The World’, which is more likely to catch the attention of a largely indifferent US TV audience (‘How Hip Hop Changed The World’ was issued without the ‘Idris Elba’s’ preface, although, once again, he co-produced / presented the programme).

The premise of the show was that it all started in New York in the ’70s (with The Loft and Paradise Garage briefly name-checked), citing ‘Saturday Night Fever’ as the catalyst for bringing the movement to the UK, leading to Britain, as the programme asserts, taking its position at the vanguard of ‘modern club culture’. There is a level of truth in this, but only with regards to the mainstream experience – the underground scene in the UK goes right back to the early ’60s, with its own unique lineage, separate to what was happening in the clubs of NYC, which ultimately fuses with New York Disco culture in the late ’70s / early ’80s to create the alchemic conditions from which Britain would instigate the oncoming Rave era, taking the culture worldwide as a consequence. In short, club culture, as we know it, doesn’t only start in New York, but also in the UK, and, as some would argue, at an earlier point in time.

Once I would probably have been upset by a programme like ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’, which, apart from what it left out, contains far too much superfluous content for my liking, and a fair few inaccuracies to boot, but I’ve learnt, from experience, not to have any expectations and, with this in mind, I accepted the show for what it was, a populist take on the culture which has shaped so many lives, but largely without the roots apparent, just the branches. A documentary about the history of British dance culture that doesn’t include reference to the likes of Guy Stevens, James Hamilton, Roger Eagle, Jeff Dexter, Les Cokell, Ian Levine, Colin Curtis, Chris Hill, Bob Jones, Les Spaine, Richard Searling, Russ Winstanley, Mark Roman, Ian Dewhirst & Paul Schofield, Terry Lennaine, Greg Edwards, Robbie Vincent, George Power, Graham ‘Fatman’ Canter, Froggy, Mike Shaft, Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson, Norman Jay, Jay Strongman, Chris Sullivan, Hewan Clarke, The Wild Bunch, Trevor M,  Mastermind Roadshow, Maurice & Noel Watson, Paul Murphy, Mike Allen, Winston & Parrot, Stu Allan, Chad Jackson and others who made their mark in the pre-Rave era (apologies to those I’ve undoubtedly missed out), should be taken with a pinch of salt. However, such a documentary wouldn’t make it onto prime time Channel 4 – this used to be a cutting-edge station, but now it’s part of the orthodoxy. As someone said on the prior mentioned Facebook thread, ‘why didn’t they show something like ‘Maestro’ instead’ (‘Maestro’ is a gritty documentary about New York Disco culture, focusing primarily on Larry Levan, the fabled DJ from the Paradise Garage), to which someone answered ‘Channel 4 would never show something like that’, before a third person added ‘that’s exactly the type of thing Channel 4 used to show’. In essence, Channel 4 is a very different beast to what it used to be, and whereas once it was probably the station I’d be most likely to record something from, nowadays I don’t even check the listings (which is why I was unaware that ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ was coming on in the first place). These days my stations of choice are no longer Channel 4 and BBC 2, but BBC 4 and Sky Arts.

In a certain sense it’s about getting older and realising that the era you hold most precious is, for the majority of the club populace, prehistoric, even the Acid-House period is ancient history for the majority of contemporary Channel 4 viewers, where the most popular shows of the past decade have included ‘Big Brother’ and ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. The programme, in many respects, should have only covered what they regard as ‘modern club culture’, with its roots in House music, The Haçienda, and Ibiza, because the tokenism of mentioning just a few, and not all, of the key moments that came before, negates the efforts of all those, dancers and DJs, who really built this movement, establishing its firm foundations in the years when the mainstream glare was elsewhere.

It’s also interesting to see the omission of some DJs who very much made their mark on ‘modern club culture’. Jeff Young, for example, was the DJ who kicked off the BBC Radio 1 Friday night dance show that would later become the domain of Pete Tong, working at the station between 1988 and 1991, the peak years of the Acid-House / Rave era, before Tong took over (it was Young who also brought Tong in to work at London Records earlier in the decade). Another example would be that famous Ibiza trip itself – ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ would only mention 2 of the group of 4 DJs who headed there in 1987, Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling, whilst the lesser known of the quartet, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker, were no longer deemed important enough to mention. Further to this, the ‘Ibiza 4’ was actually 5, for it was DJ Trevor Fung who facilitated the trip, Fung already working on the island for a number of years before the others came over, having previously holidayed there since 1977. There are other examples, but when it comes to history, not only the history of dance culture, but in general, you’ll find that the originators are more often than not usurped by those who benefitted most from their pioneering spirit, and who, in turn, are then presented themselves as the originals.

So, if post-House / Haçienda / Ibiza is ‘modern club culture as we know it’, what came before is something of a classical era, which needs to be understood in a different way. The thorough documentation of the Northern Soul movement means that any self-respecting dance chronicler has to tip their hat to it, usually focusing on Wigan Casino, its most popular venue, rather than those earlier clubs that many on the scene at the time may have cited as more influential, like The Twisted Wheel in Manchester and the Blackpool Mecca. The Casino is the epitome of Northern Soul to the casual observer, just as Studio 54 is the venue most associated with the New York Disco era…or at least it was. Nowadays, as ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ illustrated, it’s cooler to reference The Loft and the Paradise Garage as the key NYC Disco venues. This was unlikely to have been the case in such a programme a decade ago, but the publication of Tim Lawrence’s ‘Love Saves The Day’ (2003), a widely acclaimed book that got deep into Disco culture, documenting the New York club scene of the ’70s to a level nobody else had come close to, shone a light on this previously forgotten era. Like Northern Soul, this can no longer be denied, too many people have come to realise that a documentary about the history of clubbing is going to be deeply flawed without reference to The Loft and the Garage (at the very least). That said, we still have a situation where the early ’80s, a period I maintain is perhaps the most pivotal of all, being the crossroads between the old (Soul, Funk, Disco, Jazz-Funk) and the new (Hip Hop, House, Techno, and all their subsequent mutant strains), is still very much the ‘missing link of dance culture’ I referred to in my article, ‘Electro-Funk – What Did It All Mean?’, which I wrote in November 2003, a month before I made my DJ comeback:

As I said in the piece at the time, ‘although this (the period) has been documented in a number of books and publications down the years, often with a fair degree of insight, the subject is rarely approached with any true depth and attention to detail, the information all in fragments.’ This is still the situation almost 9 years on, although my resurrected DJ career has helped me draw more attention to my own writings on this and related subjects, meaning that at least those keeping an eye on what I’m up to, and who like to dig that bit deeper, are aware that the post-Disco / pre-House period was anything but the tumbleweed strewn dance wilderness many club documentarians have projected by omission.

I’ve always believed very strongly that the truth will eventually out, and whilst TV shows like ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ are but transient interludes, lasting testament to this culture will be found in the pages of books and the more serious minded films and documentaries from and about the era. The ‘same old story’ I mentioned earlier will come under increasing scrutiny as more information emerges with regards to those lost years between the so called ‘death of Disco’ at the end of the ’70s and the birth of House in the mid-’80s.

It’s those crucial early-’80s years that hold the key, but there hasn’t been a voice loud enough to really capture the imagination of that significant minority needed to change perceptions, in the way that David Mancuso and The Loft re-emerged, phoenix from the flames style, as fundamental to our comprehension of the Disco era, having previously been regarded, at best, as a mere side issue, and at worst not mentioned at all. Any book / TV documentary / film that professes to understand dance culture, but which has failed to reference The Loft, or the Paradise Garage, will be seriously flawed for those studying its evolution in the future, who’ll then question the entire content of the work on the basis that if the author can get it so wrong in this case, there’s a strong likelihood that there are other significant errors in their account. Something that might today be regarded as the final word on the subject may well, in 10 years’ time be dismissed as full as holes, something new coming along in the meantime that provides a more thorough account. With this in mind, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton’s book, ‘Last Night A DJ Saves My Life’(1999), re-published with over 100 extra pages in 2006 with planned further updates in the future, adding fresh information they might have missed previously (and, no doubt, taking out what they now feel is expendable).

Whilst, as a somewhat lone voice, or so it often seemed, it’s been difficult to highlight the claims of the early-’80s, I’m confident that the era, at least from an NYC perspective, is soon to be finally opened up in all its hybrid splendour. In his follow-up to ‘Love Saves The Day’, Tim Lawrence is currently completing a book which will hopefully hit the shelves in around 12 months’ time, titled ‘Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor: A History 1980-1983’:

Before he wrote ‘Love Saves The Day’, Lawrence had originally intended to cover  the New York club scene at a later point in time, 2 decades on from David Mancuso’s original Loft parties, when Masters At Work (‘Little’ Louie Vega & Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez) were writing a new chapter in the NYC dance story. But what, for me, really sets him apart as a documentarian of dance culture is that, having heard Mancuso’s name come up in interviews one time too many, he saw the bigger picture, switching the emphasis to the ’70s, and set about unearthing the story that now underpins our understanding of New York Disco and its influence on all that followed. A cultural anthropologist, he restored Mancuso to his rightful place at the roots of the Disco movement, making a crucial contribution to our understanding of the era. Not only did he do this with his writing, but he was also part of a team of people who brought this seminal figure over to the UK for regular London Loft parties, which continue to this day.

In a similar way, when asked to write the sleevenotes to the 2006 ‘Discotheque: The Haçienda’ retrospective, rather than, as most writers would, concentrate on the post-’88 golden era, he asked the pertinent questions ‘why this club?’, ‘why Manchester?’, ‘how did it happen?’ and, for the first time, illuminated the period that led up to the club becoming a world-famous bastion of dance – his main focus being the period 1982-1988, before ecstasy made its impact, illustrating how the music was already well in place before the drug came on the scene. Incidentally, the #1 defining moment in dance history, according to ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’, wasn’t a musical movement, or a club, or a DJ, but the little pill itself. This is exactly why, for me, dance culture took a wrong turn in the ’90s – the music was already established when ecstasy appeared, and initially the drug enhanced the music, however, it wasn’t long before the drug became primary and the music supplementary, which is always the wrong equation.

As with ‘Love Saves The Day’, ‘Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor’ was originally intended to be a very different book. Tim Lawrence had planned to cover dance culture, not only in New York, but Chicago, Detroit and the UK, leading up to the Rave explosion, but once he’d started writing he realised that there was so much that had happened in NYC during the early ’80s that this was either going to be an unfeasibly thick book or his sole focus should be on New York from ’80-’83. This is exactly the time and place that I’ve been banging on about for all these years, so needless to say that I’m hugely excited about this book, and itching to read it. It’s going to finally illuminate that missing link in a way that helps connects the dots and, for the first time, properly bridge a major gap in peoples’ understanding of how this most critical cultural juncture would inform everything that has followed.

After Chicago I travelled to Brooklyn, where I felt a real sense of history this time around, the area increasingly the cultural hub of New York. Manhattan may have held sway in the past, but Brooklyn has risen and is, I’m sure, about to hit full-tilt in the coming years. My gig at The Bunker, held in 12-turn-13, a loft space I’ve previously appeared at for a Mister Saturday Night party, was one of those occasions that will live in the memory for a long time – there was certainly that special indefinable something in the air, and the recording can be heard here: http://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/the-bunker-brooklyn-26-08-12. The following day I was the guest of Dennis ‘Citizen’ Kane for the 1st anniversary of his Disques Town podcast, in which we focused on the New York club scene 30 years ago, with all the music I selected coming out of the city in the 6 month period up to September 1982, providing a taste of just how prolific the dance movement in NYC was back then. To contribute to the discussion Dennis had invited his friend, Sal Principato, along, to add his recollections. Sal was the frontman with the influential 99 Records band, Liquid Liquid, best-known for their 1983 track ‘Cavern’, which was what Grandmaster & Melle Mel based their worldwide hit ‘White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)’ around. The full show is now available at www.dsgtnyc.com/podcast.php or on SoundCloud:

It was great to talk with those 2 guys, both of whom experienced that period directly and have a wealth of knowledge between them. We got so deep into things that later, when I’d left the studio and returned to where I was staying, Dennis and I carried on discussing the era on the phone for over 3 hours, no longer conducting a radio interview, but simply indulging in our joint passion for what happened way back when, when Dennis was in New York, at the epicentre of things, whilst I was across the Atlantic in Manchester, fully absorbing the influences and inspiration of a city over 3,000 miles away.

There’s always going to be an element of subjectivity when someone writes a book, makes a documentary, or, indeed, does a radio interview, and nobody can produce such a thing as a ‘definitive account’, there’s always something they’ll miss – different people place different emphasis on different things, and often important aspects, sometimes vitally important, are overlooked as the emphasis is placed elsewhere, the elephant, as is said, not touched from all angles. It can take a long passage of time before someone suitably detached, as Tim Lawrence was with regards to New York in the ’70s (or The Haçienda in the ’80s), takes a more objective approach, seeing the bigger picture, and changing the general consensus as a consequence, this ‘new’ information becoming key to our fuller understanding.

Let’s hope that, on the positive side, ‘How Clubbing Changed The World’ served to whet the appetite of, at least, some of its viewers, parts of it providing them with a portal to a deeper appreciation of what went before. And it’s not just the younger generation of clubbers, even many of the older heads who were personally embroiled in the era of House, The Haçienda and Ibiza, E’d-up and enjoying those heady days to the full, have little knowledge of the records, clubs and DJs who laid the groundwork for them to subsequently experience what they now fondly recall as the greatest nights of their lives. As they say, we’re never too old to learn, especially when it comes to understanding our heritage, and whilst clubbing can lay its claim to helping change the world in which we live, some of its greatest treasures are still buried beneath the surface.

Idris Elba’s How Clubbing Changed The World On 4oD:

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70 Responses to How Clubbing Changed The World

  1. Paul Nahm September 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    hey greg –

    many, many thanks for such an in-depth post that truly educates ignorant blokes like myself.

    and of course thanks for such a blinding set at the bunker.

    until next time…


  2. splitradix September 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Great article Greg, I’ve just ordered “Love Saves The Day” on the strength of your comments about it.

  3. Shawn cowlishaw September 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    An absouloutly fantastic read and well put 🙂

  4. Ed September 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    The Tim Lawrence book is an absolute joy. Highly recommended.

    Great post, really enjoyed it.

  5. David Dunne September 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more with your summation, Greg. Obviously a show like this is always going to be pretty broad in brushstroke and there will always be gaps, but I thought this one missed more than a few key things, even just in it’s summary of the Mid-80’s let alone what came before that. More attention was paid to Ecstasy, than giving an accurate picture of the evolution of dance music and clubbing through the 70’s and 80’s

    One of the things I find infuriating about so many of these shows, is that the same people always get credited, and so many get left out, many of whom you namecheck above. Jeff Young almost NEVER gets mentioned, yet his show was the blueprint for Pete Tong’s show, and of course people like Mike Shaft and Stu Allan never get mentioned, despite the fact that their radio shows in the 80’s were absolutely groundbreaking. And don’t get me started on the whole “Oakey went to Ibiza and invented House Music” thing…

    I look forward to Tim Lawrence’s book – Love Will Save The Day was a superb piece of work. And I also have the book on Roger Eagle on order at the moment. If people dig a little deeper, there are always diamonds to be found in the rough….

  6. Mark Kamins September 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Brillent piece Greg !

  7. Will Nicol September 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    Great read as ever mate. You’ve probably read it already but Tony Fletcher’s “All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927 – 1977” has some great stuff about disco and (particularly) the early days of hip hop. All round fantastic book – worth checking.

    Missed you at Bestival due to Claire overdoing it the night before but hopefully see you soon (think the girls are at your London date next month).



  8. Toby Frith September 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Fantastic writing Greg.

    I’m always ambivalent about programs like this. In terms of “damage” caused by the relative level of inaccuracy, it’s always difficult to tell. History is an ever-changing and shifting world which we view the world through – someone is always going to come along and tell you that they were playing x record in 1982 etc. If this program had been made before the advent of broadband, I think it would have been a lot more damaging – but now I think that anyone with a certain amount of hunger and thirst for knowledge about this subject can really start making their own assumptions. Just being able to listen to music on youtube rather than reading about it (and then having to download it because the price for the records are so stupidly high) makes an enormous impact.

    Programmers have to have a cut off point – they have to make it watchable and in a countercultural sense, the advent of MDMA is a like someone gave you a subversive storyline immediately, rather than seeing a huge number of tributaries going back 20 years or more coalesce into one big countercultural movement.

    Deep down I feel that having a mainstream “idea” of what the history was makes the journey for those who want to know a bit more exciting. Perhaps that’s what gives us on the other side our “identity” – the fact that we know the “real” story. Sometimes when you flesh out the reality to everyone, it becomes ubiquituous and ultimately boring.

  9. Will Nicol September 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    On Jeff Young he was clearly very important but I have to say his show felt WAY out of date by 1989. He would play hardly any house while the music was exploding all around him. He felt very much like the old guard – the show didn’t feel relavant to me and my mates. Unlike Stu Allen who really moved with the times.

  10. Nick Shaw September 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    A fantastic read Mr Wilson

  11. DJ Travis Mac September 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Great read Greg – Thanks for the history lesson!

  12. Irving Soremekun September 14, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Excellent piece Greg.

  13. Neeraj September 15, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Excellent article – After watching the show I did wonder when you would make a response! I’m no expert on the history of Dance music etc but I spent the whole program screaming at the TV about how they had missed the early 80’s electro-funk era – which in my opinion brought together a whole host of white, black and asian working class kids from ugly depressed towns up and down the country together through the breakdancing scene….it certainly left a mark on me. Maybe we all wear rose-tinted glasses when looking back, but as an asian lad from Leeds, electro music gave me and others the urge to travel to different places for good music and dance – very powerful indeed. I still have the friends from that time all dotted around the country. I would definately support anyone who has the vision to put together a program telling this story. Nice one Greg – see you in Brighton and Basings House in October!

  14. Paul Budd September 15, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Nice one Greg a very informative, well written and interesting response – I haven’t watched the program and probably won’t make a point of doing so.

    Personally I have learned so much more from reading Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, in turn giving me a fuller insight into dance music culture and it’s roots and have also had some very educational chats with you regarding your early DJ experiences and the black music scene in UK and the big parties pre-dating the ’88 acid house explosion.

    I must admit I have a fairly short attention span in comparison to yourself and the authors of the in depth books and articles that really document music, clubbing and dancing as important cultural history. It’s something I had never really considered as anything but a bit of fun and certainly never analysed it much at the time (90-93 being a bit of a blur and I probably shouldn’t of been driving for most of it)

    Dates, times and places were of no significance at the time but now Castlemoreton is continuously referred to as THE major event of that era and deemed significant in a different way and the political response it triggered (CJB/CJA) did indeed change everything for the 100,000’s of ravers soon finding themselves part of ‘the jilted generation’

    With hindsight I now realise there were reasons and factors that have really shaped my life and the choices I made and music has been at the core throughout, so I thank you for taking the time and effort to document your passion, experience, research and views so eloquently.

    See you in Brighton next month mate where we can make a bit more history of our own 😉


  15. Tom Belte September 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    A great read, thanks for the thoughts and your commentary. Thank god for books like Love Saves The Day, LNADJSML et al as they document as well as inform. To see UK Garage as a part of club culture and baring some fairly big prominence seemed ignorant and unresearched. Shame really, but we live and keep on learning (hopefully).

  16. Boo (Bülent Boo Mehmet) September 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    ‘…when it comes to history, not only the history of dance culture, but in general, you’ll find that the originators are more often than not usurped by those who benefitted most from their pioneering spirit, and who, in turn, are then presented themselves as the originals…’

    Eloquently put Greg.

  17. AJ September 16, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Seems like telly people getting paid, not an earnest attempt to document history. Most of the footage had been recycled. I liked how ch4 gave the next 6 hours to live djs though. I fell asleep to GM Flash and woke up to HMD trannies.
    What happened in between?
    Yeah what happened in between?
    Well it went something like this………

  18. Luke September 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    fantastic write up very insightful Greg

  19. Dan September 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    great article!! big thnx!

  20. caroline September 17, 2012 at 4:12 am #

    Maestro is by far the ultimate when it comes to house music docs. there was also a series called Pump up the Volume – the history of house music which gets it right! hmm, i am a house head and do recognize the many other genres of club music but at heart its all about house!

  21. Myron Brown September 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Great post Greg, you hit the nail on the head regarding how mainstream media covers dance music history. Although I do hope that Tim Lawrence eventually writes that book about post-Paradise Garage dance music history, I understand why he decided to focus on the 1980-83 era.

    I was at the Bunker the night you played and it was an excellent set. We even talked briefly before you went on that night. Although I did wish — although this says something more about how splintered the various NYC dance music scenes and crowds are than about the quality of the parties — that more of the older heads came out to hear you play. It probably would have been a different set than what you played but I would have been interested to see how it would have changed the dynamic and the music that was played.

    Kudos to your set that night and I look forward to hearing you live again.

  22. Basil Maudave September 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    A good read, Greg. However, I feel like you, as Channel 4, have missed a big one by not mentioning Sasha (and to a lesser degree John Digweed), and the Delta Heavy Tour.

    Without Sasha, there would be no concept of a superstar dj, and hence no concept of a dj night as it exists today. The transformation of a dj into a full-fledged rock star, which Sasha truly was the first to undergo, is what has now permitted djs like Guetta and Tiesto to have the careers they are having. It would have taken these latter two alot longer, had it not been done before. Let us not forget that Sasha was technical before being technical even existed (do you remember when he used to dj with two desktop computers alongside the cdjs?), he was doing live performances before the concept of a live set existed (as it is known today, people were performing live before him, but not in a dj set format). Sasha’s management agency, which has pretty much represented at some point anybody who is anybody in the underground scene, and now his new label, have always been trailblazers, bringing electronic music to clubbers across the globe.

    The Delta Heavy Tour was the first electronic music tour to feature pretty much exclusively in stadiums, to sold out crowds, and was the first real break into the North American mainstream. This led to their legendary residency at Twilo, again ignored by you and Channel 4.

    Some other people who definitely deserved a mention are BT and Charlie May, Tiesto’s set at the Olympics, those massive promoters in the US doing these ridiculous shows nowadays. Maybe a more precise explanation of how DC10 and the VIP clubs in Ibiza pretty much shape every other club in the world could have been added, also.

    I feel like this is a very hard topic to cover because so many people are emotionally tied to it, and now that clubbing has become part of the mainstream, everybody wants to have their idols vindicated, myself included.

    Nevertheless, like I started off by saying, a good read and complement to the documentary.

  23. Raibaz September 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Great read, i was born in 1983 so i find it hard to spontaneously relate to music that came out when i was an infant, but your work, such as Brewster&Brighton’s and Tim Lawrence’s (which i didn’t know and i’m ordering on amazon right now) has really helped gear my listenings towards a more informed taste and definitely satisfied my passion for music research.

    Keep up the awesome work as a dance music historian!

  24. Jab September 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Excellent piece of writing Greg; so much more informative than that programme (which I switched off in frustration!). The late 70s/early 80s were a focal point in my music/clubbing days; so good to hear you mention the likes of Froggy, Chris Hill, Jay Strongman and all the others who gave me my love of this genre of music. Keep doing what you do! Jan x

  25. greg wilson September 18, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    Somewhat bowled over by the response – stats have gone off the scale for this one. It’s been great to see other DJ’s, including Mr Scruff, Trevor Fung, Sasha, Ashley Beedle, Chris Sullivan and Milo (also one of NYC’s finest, Mark Kamins, who I know will feature in Tim Lawrence’s book) giving the piece the thumbs up / spreading the word via their social networks over the past couple of days.

    Thanks to you all for your comments.

    Will Nichol: I’ve ordered a 2nd hand copy of ‘All Hopped Up’ (must be currently out of print). Looks right up my street – I’m managing to piece things back to the Jazz age a lot better in recent years, and I know this is going to be just the book I need to make some of that glue stick. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Toby Frith: Really interesting perspective. This will, of course, always be a minority interest area, most people can’t find time in their lives to get caught up in this type of detail. However, as you know, it’s in these very details, the meat on the bone, that the greatest insights often lie.

    Neeraj: Now there’s a whole history in itself that you’re referring to – how black culture, specifically in the Electro era, impacted with the Asian youth. This is now part of the cultural history of British Asians, as is Morgan Khan, with his Indian heritage, who masterminded Street Sounds, and the Electro series.

    Caroline: Interesting that you regard ‘Maestro’ a house music docu when it’s largely set in the Disco era.

    Basil Maudave: I’m no expert on what was happening in the 90’s, but I know that Sasha, ‘Son Of God’ and all that, would be nailed on for this show. I have to admit that I never noticed the omission, he was just too obvious a choice to even wonder whether he’d been included or not (just seen his tweet about this piece – he mentioned that there was nothing about him and John Digweed).


  26. Jeff Young September 18, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Hi Greg.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this and as I said on Facebook what your piece highlights is that there was simply too much going on particularly in the UK and US from say 1984-93 to neatly package it all up in one documentary or book. Tim Lawrence’s dilemna also endorses this. There are so many who’s contribution will always be left out in work such as “How Dance Music…”

    My main beef about the TV documentary was that it was disjointed and all over the place and I have to be honest that I was a little deflated that the Radio One show was once again ignored. But, c’est la vie. I should be used to it by now. Thanks for your own acknowledgement. I did find it ironic that a huge chunk of music featured in the documentary was broken on “The Big Beat”.

    Hope to see you soon.

    Best regards

  27. G Albi September 18, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Great posts.

    I was very disappointed with How Clubbing Has Changed The World, although I should probabaly have guessed by the title! It would be interesting to know how many times we saw two turntables or cdjs, yet there wasn’t an explanation as to how all this came about. Who mixed records? Why did the early pioneers feel it necessary to mix/change/blend records? No mention of people like Francis Grasso or Nicky Siano. And another tool of the trade the 12″ single got no mention.

    As with all these things there are always differences of opinions. However the fact that the programme had no timeline meant that it was very difficult to understand how all the different scenes and developments could be linked together.

    To see things from a different perspective I recommend the Tim Lawrence book. It’s a well researched and detailed account of dance music culture in New York in the seventies. It’s also worth checking out Tim Lawrence’s website. I haven’t looked through all his articles but his paper on Walter Gibbons is well worth a read.


  28. david dunne September 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Jeff, I remember Big Beat very well and I remember all the hard work you did on getting dance music out there during your time working in the music business. Without the Big Beat show, no pathway would have been cleared for dance shows at Radio One, who back then were very slow on the uptake to new developments. Stu Allan, who was a pioneer of house music on the radio, also continually gets ignored by such documentaries, mainly because so many of the people who make them, have no knowledge of the world outside the M25. Greg is one of the few people to ever credit Stu. I wouldn’t have got into dance music radio without him.

    But….those who know, KNOW. Hope you’re well.

  29. Colosi September 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    What a great bed time read. I am one of the punters that have profited from the expanse of musical expertise and skill being on the receiving end; from tuning into crackly Invicta radio in the 70s, all dayers, weekenders, Ibiza, Miami in the 80s, raving and all of the other musical influences that have shaped and continue to shape my life as I know it and that you have alluded too. I also spent a fair bit of time shouting at the TV during the documentary but in the end took it for what it was. What’s been great about this post are the book recommendations – that’s my Christmas wish list sorted! The capturing of this history is as important as the music for generations to come so thank you again for your insight from a clubber with little musical knowledge but a whole lot of love for the music and respect for those that have the passion to deliver it.

  30. Jeff Young September 19, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Hey David, how are you? I agree about Stu as well. I acknowledged him at a DMC awards thing once and he was stunned as I remember. As we’ve all said, there are so many who contributed and for whatever reason are never acknowledged.


  31. Paul D, Rae September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Well, I gotta admit to catchin the last part of the programme and thought at the time that it was a bit wishy washy to say the least. Trouble is that it will always be the same, history repeating itself, nothing is as it seems and everyone remembers things differently. Reading Hookys book about the Hacienda makes me laugh and cry simultaneously. From 1980 – 1983 myself, and Ralph Mayles a.k.a. were in the middle of the Manchester Scene as DJ’s at LEGEND Discotheque (note the spelling of LEGEND, most people can’t even remember the name correctly, Legends was in LONDON!) on Princess Street, but only ONCE has anybody asked me about that time period, and all things aside WE were instrumental in keeping things moving and in keeping LEGEND open, and in moving things forward musically. I decided to write the facts about Manchester music scene, seen from behind the decks at LEGEND 6 nights a week (at first). Shouts to Jeff Young and anyone else who remembers ma sad ass, hehehe.

  32. Tim Lawrence September 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    A superb analysis of the tired cliches that cluster around histories of dance culture, Greg. Thanks as always for your tireless contribution to the history and its ongoing relevance.

    I’m almost embarrassed by the props you and those who’ve posted below have given to Love Saves the Day. What can I offer except more thanks?

    When I set out on LSD I felt as though I was writing a history that was off the radar, and I’ve often felt the same way while writing the current book, which was supposed to cover the 1980-88 period, including house, techno and garage, but has ended up (as you mention) focusing on 1980-83–and not even the US and the UK, but just NYC, because there was so much going in the city during those years.

    The more I’ve got into the research the more I’ve come to believe that 1980-83 resembles 1970-74 inasmuch as both periods unfolded away from the machinations of the major records companies with no single genre dominant. That made it a whole lot easier for the creativity to flow; the people involved in both gathered in settings that were open both socially and sonically.

    Even though it’d have helped to sell more books, lol, I decided against subtitling Love Saves the Day “a history of disco” because what went on during the 1970s was so much more than that. The point of the exclusion was not to belittle disco, of course, but instead to acknowledge the breadth and complexity of the culture that unfolded during that era.

    The thing about the current book is that I couldn’t even give it a genre-referencing subtitle if I wanted because the backlash against disco was more or less complete by the end of 1979 and house didn’t start to come out in Chicago until 1984 (with the music reaching NY in 1985). As a result, the 1980-83 became this mini-era during which all of these sounds, many of them without a name, and certainly none of them dominant, started to intersect. Thus: “Go Bang”, “Don’t Make Me Wait”, “Planet Rock”…

    The book is titled Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-83, because dance culture discovered this new lease of life just at the moment when it was popularly believed to have died. As for the death bit, well, I don’t want to give away the ending just yet, but it’s not hard to guess how things started to change in downtown NY during 1983 and after.

    I’m looking forward to renewing our conversation about what was going on in the UK pre-88 when I’m done with the edit! Thanks again…

  33. Paul D, Rae September 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Thanx Tim for your insight. But, in January 1981, when Ralph Randell (Mayles) & myself took the reigns at Legend in Manchester WE started some new shit. We were plugged into EVERYTHING that the UK & US produced musically (except country, sorry). WE played the shit outta all the dynamite dance that we called “Danceamatic”, songs to dance to. And we didn’t give a shit what it was, as long you could dance to it. I’m sorry, but Ralph and I played it all in 1981, and our people (fans) packed out “Legend” in Manchester. We laughed when Factory opened “Hacienda” or “FAC 51”. WE owned Manchester, and when Greg Wilson took over Wednesday, WE crushed everyone thru til 1983. I have so many facts about the era (LOL 2 years). Greg Wilson is THE instrumental playa in the early 1980’s in the UK, NO ONE else comes close! As I said earlier I will be putting ink on paper soon. My story starts sooo far back (1967). Please stay tuned!


  34. Tim Lawrence September 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Why the “But…”? Why the “sorry”? I don’t see how anything you’ve posted contradicts what I wrote. I know what happened at Legend in 1981 and wrote about it pretty extensively in my liner notes for the Haçienda compilation (something that Greg mentioned in his original post). There was clearly a great scene going on at Legend in particular; I just happen to be writing a book that focuses on what was going on in New York instead. One of the things I discuss is that the music from the period didn’t really have a settled name and the fact you ended up giving it your own name–Dancematic–seems to reinforce the point. The music and the crowds were in flux, which is why the period remains so interesting.

  35. greg wilson September 20, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Tim’s with you here Paul. If he was writing a book about UK club culture 80-83 I’ve absolutely no doubt he’d be covering what you were doing on those Thursday nights at Legend, because, like you say, it was an important scene, especially given that the audience you attracted were, more often than not, the people who helped make up the original Hacienda audience. As much as I’d like it to be Tim who was telling this tale, in the greater scheme of things, we need the context of NYC first, for this was the great cultural hub of the time. Once that is in place I think it will help people understand how the UK, with its unique lineage, fused its own dance culture with NYC’s, creating the hybrid environment in which House, Techno and Hip Hop would flourish in this country, giving birth to the ‘modern club culture’ the programme mainly covered.

    I know how frustrating it is to see important tributaries overlooked. Roxy / Bowie nights, which were the forerunner to the New Romantic thing, and the scene you built at Legend, hardly ever get mentioned, yet it was on these nights that Kraftwerk were first appreciated in UK clubs, this is in contrast to how their music was picked up at block parties in the Bronx, and via the Detroit airwaves and the Electrifying Mojo. If you add the fact that Hip Hop was embracing artists who would feature at these UK Futurist nights, like Gary Numan, Human League and Yellow Magic Orchestra, inspiring Electro in the process, there’s some kind of circuit going on (a fact of the matter was that when ‘Planet Rock’ came out, DJ’s on your side of the scene played it immediately, whereas the majority of specialist black music DJ’s totally ignored it).

    As a general point, what’s really interesting about the programme, and also the response to this piece, is that many DJ’s, and not only those of our generation, have felt very strongly about how our history is represented (or misrepresented or not represented at all). Take Jeff Young, who’s commented here – I know his measure because he’s a part of my own journey. This is the guy who facilitated Kool & The Gang coming along to my night at Legend in 1981 in his capacity as head of promotions for Phonogram – this, following on from the coup Paul and Ralph had pulled off by getting Siouxsie and the Banshees there on their Thursday, played an important part in putting the night back on the map (the original Wednesday DJ had defected to another club and taken the crowd with him). Then, 12 months later I’m in Jeff’s office in London grabbing a VHS of McLaren’s ‘Buffalo Gals’, which he was promoting, before it had been shown on TV (I write about playing it to a cultureshocked audience here: http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/articles/buffalo_gals.html. In between he worked on a whole heap of key dance releases, including ‘Walking On Sunshine’ by Rockers Revenge, which was the biggest tune at my nights exactly 30 years ago, it tops my #1 Floorfillers list for August ’82 here: http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/greg-wilsons-top-10-floorfillers-august-82/. The track, having been the hottest import of the summer, would subsequently crossover to the mainstream audience and, thanks largely to Jeff’s strategy would be a massive hit (I’d later re-connect with the track over 2 decades on, re-editing it for ‘Credit To The Edit’ Vol 1′). We hear the music, but it’s the stories behind them that really bring the times to life. Even before he began working for Phonogram (which included London Records), Jeff was a key member of the Soul Mafia, a DJ collective of massive weight and influence, but now, it seems, a side note of dance history. They included, of course, Chris Hill, who was the prototype Superstar DJ in this country, wielding great power from the mid-70’s to the early 80’s.

    Away from the blog I’ve been contacted by a whole heap of DJ’s, some of whom haven’t played a record in a club for a quarter of a century. These included Sammy DeHavilland, who, having read the piece, linked me to the James Hamilton tribute page at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/jameshamilton/). Now for anyone who hasn’t come across James, you might be surprised to hear me talk about him as one of the most important and influential people in the evolution of UK dance culture. Now, look in the indexes of your books on dance culture and you’re unlikely to find an entry. As Jeff and Paul would, I’m sure, concur, it’s literally impossible to understand how dance culture developed here without knowledge of James Hamilton’s role. There’s a huge gaping hole in everything if you can’t explain James’s place in the scheme of things – he was too important for too long.

    I think quite a few people are beginning to feel pissed off that all those great nights (not forgetting the All-Dayers) that they experienced have, by omission, been deemed of no major importance, when, in reality, they were right at the cutting-edge, right on the frontline when it came to flying the flag for dance music, and at a time when many future experts on the subject were going to gigs and not clubs, and of the opinion that, although club music may be good and well, the real stuff involved guitar, bass, drums and a singer. They weren’t on the black side of the tracks.

    Anyhow, I’m more sure than ever that the full story will eventually be told – it’s too important not to be. I’ll continue, as ever, to do what I can from my own side to draw attention to these things, but I’d hope others, both DJ’s and those who went to the clubs, will record / share their own memories in whatever way they can.

    James Hamilton is no longer around to ask a thousand and one questions, so his legacy needs to be pieced together via those who knew him (coupled, of course, with some honest to goodness hard graft research), like Roger Eagle’s has been in ‘Sit Down! Listen To This!’ (https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/08/sit-down-listen-to-this/). This process is already gathering pace via the Facebook group that’s been set up in tribute to James:

    Once again, thanks to everyone for their comments. It’s been something of a landmark post for me. I hope some of the newcomers to the blog stick around and check out some of the earlier posts if they’ve enjoyed this piece, or come back for further exploration at a later point.


  36. Coops September 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Trouble is, there’s a lot of money to made out of dance music now, so it has to be redefined to match the marketing requirements of the industry, which means placing those that work with and within the marketed industry at the forefront and eliminating the others.

    The culture industry closes its maws on the music I love – the only consolation being that it comes out of the process as shit, the same old shit that rhythm-based music liberated me from. The same old shit that has had the rhythm and wit taken out of it so that it is a bludgeoning weapon. I watch the industries superstars and they are just performing the same role as dull rock posers.

    Like you say, superficial people will always want superficial entertainment, and they always have. They may buy the form, but the spirit that moved it moves on, ready to be rediscovered by those that want to live that way.

    I think you were wise to duck out of the programme – leave em to their agenda so that you can get on with your own. Big up!

  37. david nicolau September 21, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Great lesson of history on dance music..!!! http://soundcloud.com/david-nicolau/ivan-lendl-an-der-beat-ramacod

  38. Gary Ellis September 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Greg, Absolutely loved your write-up above and totally agree with you…. There are several seriously good Documentaries covering certain times but missing bits out unless they are either 8 hours long (never happens) or purely about a specific (Maestro) and you have got me thinking (bear with me as i tend to have stupid ideas).

    You’re a man who is heavily connected via Bill, Ian, Tim etc and you also know a lot of the old faces very well, or if you haven’t met them you could easily contact them.

    Completely forgetting about Channel 4 and a large budget, we are now living in a world of Interviews via Skype/iChat, Editing on a laptop, Video’ing on an iPhone and publishing for all to see on Youtube. Would it not be possible to outline a basic storyboard of what actually happened over the timeline of Dance music and then contact the kingpins of the main points for interview..inviting others to present Video Interviews/chats on what they feel happened as well to tell the story from all sides? There is plenty of fact in print that could be used to set up the timeline via the books you mentioned and plenty of footage Via “Pump Up The Volume” “Maestro”etc.

    It could be quite easy to create a series of mini docs relating to each decade or time creating a series that could then be published as i said on a timeline linking to the footage on youtube giving:

    a: a concise and eternally editable History of Dance Music
    b: Creating what probably could be a fantastic discussion.
    c: an archive of what happened and seen from potentially all angles.

    Ok its a lot easier said than done and would take some serious time, but it could be something seriously huge, and whenever someone pops up with something that they feel was missed, all they have to do is submit a video for inclusion….

    It could end up with hours and hours of footage, but lets face it it would take a major TV series or 2 to cover what actually happened anyway, and this way it would be growing probably eternally.

    Up for the challenge? 🙂


  39. Barrie Stone September 22, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    It’s funny how everybody tends to forget that we Miniscule DJ’s at Clubs around the UK were also Championing the Music that some of you Guys may have Bought at the Import Record Shops like Black Wax,Record Cnr, Contempo,The Lighting Centre, Moondogs with many more besides after hearing us Radio DJ’s on London Based Pirates Such as Invicta (the First in London) and then JFM which I was one of the First on the Station in 1981 along with my then Club Partner Dave Collins, Walshy, Jeff Young, Froggy (RIP) Trevor Fung Marc Damon (Originally Sutton Scammps)amongst others Then Horizon and Solar as well as Starpoint Radio Jackie and I was also instrumental with Brian Anthony in bringing Mark Roman into the JFM Family who was formerly the Original Innovator of Crackers where I did actually work with Mark for a brief time and was also Mark that started the Friday Lunchtime Session and of course the Original Tuesday and was also Instrumental of The Crackers LOGO Design.

    I also might add that Carl Cox was actually a Warm Up DJ and very close Friend at the time in 1981/84 and plying his Mixing Skills on Garrard Belt Drive Turntables with Disco and the Soul Music of the Time as well as Oakey, Gilles, Trevor Graham Gold, Froggy(Steve) and Graham Canter were all Friends at the Time, but when the Music started to change I tried to keep a bit of Sanity with what I personally played and still do to this day. In saying that I was not a Fan of the DRUG Infused World of The Ibizia Set or the Outdoor Raves on the 80’s and 90’s.
    I just do Radio now for Fun and for the Love of the Music and the other reason as there is No Money in the Business anymore as that was another thing with the onslaught of The Superstar DJ’s The Wage Structure went Tit’s Up and out the Window 🙁 This is a lot worse than when I stared Club DJ’ing in 1971.

    DJ’s out there working at Prestige Clubs and Venues either for Little Money or No money at all.

    I just had to say something and did not intend to Offend anybody(*_*) Rant Over at 05:08 UK Time 22nd September 2012 and as yet no sleep so excuse spellin and other shit 🙁

  40. Chris Hayes September 22, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Greg the level of interest and evident passion for the subject in this article must surely convince you, if you haven’t been already, that a book on the 1980-84 UK dance music scene would sell well. Between you and Tim I couldn’t think of two better people to write it. JFDI; before someone less qualified does it and screws it up.

  41. Indoneil September 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Right….i’m a bit late on this because I only watched the documentary via Youtube a couple of days ago.

    It has been fascinating to see the various responses offered. Certainly on a personal level I thought this was a very poor presentation and can’t go in to intimate detail otherwise i’d be writing a piece as long as Gregs to explain my reasons why, which In a way I suppose reflects the program itself in the regard of how an you compress almost 50 years of progression, evolution, history, and culture in to a program that lasted 90 minutes or so……in my case how can I can externalize so many points relating to this topic in a short post like this….it is impossible.

    Lets look at the title ‘How clubbing changed the world’, did the program achieve it’s objective? For me not at all.

    Is the Mong Box the primary form of medium for presenting programs, news, information in the 21st Century??, for me, not at all, so let’s no all get disappointed at the structure or information shown in the program. Gary Ellis has put forward a great idea, especially in that the internet is the premium medium for the sharing and presenting of information. There is a marvelous opportunity for someone or group to really take the bull by the horns here and document the whole history to the current day, almost like an archive, complete history, via the Internet. It would take a couple of years at least but the potential for something like this is frighteningly good. It would consist of Articles, Interviews, tracks via Youtube, scans of old flyers, all linked together in like a chronological family tree with links all over the place. It could operate in a similar way to Wikipedia however has more multimedia content in it and certain guidelines on how to operate and find your way around.

    I also like the point that Coops made…..100% agree on that

  42. Gary Ellis September 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Just read Indoneils post and turned to my colleagues (App and website developers themselves, also a lot younger and more switched on then 42 year old me) and asked how easy this would be to set up…..and funny enough it can be done on Facebook as an administrated timeline with a few mediators and getting copyright advised to make sure nothing gets ripped off.

    Greg if you feel this could be take further get in touch with me Via FB…pretty sure this can be set up easily once the variables such as when to start the timeline etc.

  43. David Dunne September 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    There is an excellent book by Mancunian music polymath, John Robb, called “Punk Rock” An Oral History” which tells the story of Punk via the words and stories of those involved in making it and those involved in supporting it. The origins, development and ongoing stories of all aspects of Punk – Music, gigs, culture, musicians, DJs, managers, promoters, labels and crucially, the fans – are all told by people who were there, and some who still live and breathe Punk. Dance music needs a book like this, I think. Not just the stories of the same 5 clubs, DJs and Promoters that we always hear about, but casting its net much wider in all directions. John’s skill in that book is how he chooses the participants and then links the stories together to form an honest and vivid picture of Punk.

    I would LOVE to read a book that brings together dance music from 1980, through to present day (or even as far as the Millennium) and is honest about the highs and lows of it all. It would be a huge project, but what a journey it would be.

  44. greg wilson September 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Gary Ellis: Really good suggestion. I already have a related project in development and I’m looking at how I could incorporate the type of thing you mention. I probably wouldn’t do it as a Facebook timeline, but as a stand-alone project that can be linked through Facebook. Just need to work out the logistics.

    Barrie Stone: Good to have your input. Yeah, the pirate stations were hugely important from a London perspective, and as you rightly point out, there were many unsung heroes. One of these was Steve Devonne on Invicta, who I know was a big influence on Gilles Peterson, and who was one of the earliest supporters of the Electro direction in the capital. I’m all for highlighting the role the pirate stations, and also the black music specialist on ILR and BBC stations, played in advancing the culture.

    Chris Hayes: I’ve pretty much written the first draft of my memoirs of the early 80’s era, but there’s still the mammoth task of amending and adding further information. To be honest, this was largely done back in 2003, before I started deejaying again, but events took over and I haven’t been able to find the necessary time to get back to it and finish it off – writing a book is a beast of a job, especially when you’ve never taken on such a task previously. I’ll get it all finished one of these days though.

    I’m pretty sure Tim will also want to cover the period himself in a future book, but this could be a number of years off.

  45. greg wilson September 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    David Dunne: Oddly enough, it was I who suggested that John did his Punk book as an oral history. There’s a brilliant book called ‘Days In The Life: Voices From The English Underground, 1961-71’ by Jonathan Green (I mentioned it on the blog once – https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/ten-books-ive-read-at-least-twice/), which I loaned to John back in 1991 when we were working together (John had been a big supporter of the Rap Assassins when he was working for Sounds, and I’d subsequently produce his Sensuround project). Anyhow, he had some stuff robbed from his flat around this time, including my copy of ‘Days In The Life’ (plus a great Australian bootleg video about The Beatles, which I’ve never been able to replace). More recently, when he was getting his Punk book together, I suggested it might work as an oral history, which is exactly what ‘Days In The Life’ was, drawn from interviews with British countercultural figures from the 60’s, some famous, others more obscure. John would later adopt the same format for ‘The North Will Rise Again’, which I mentioned in the recent blog post about ‘Sit Down! Listen To This!’, the new book about Roger Eagle, once again presented as an oral history: https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/08/sit-down-listen-to-this/. So, as you can see, this is a format I really like – I suggested this approach only the other day with regards to the James Hamilton Facebook group (which I linked in one of the comments above) as the perfect vehicle in order to bring James’s legacy into focus.

    Oh, another brilliant oral history I’ve read is ‘Edie: An American Biography’, about the wonderful Edie Sedgwick. Again, it’s something I’ve previously mentioned on the blog: https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/glamour-and-excess/

  46. David Dunne September 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Greg: I think the oral history is a great format for subjects such as music arts and cultural movements. I’ve had the Roger Eagle book on order for a few weeks but it’s not yet arrived. Looking forward to that one.

    I’m currently reading the E Book/Kindle version of Sean Magee’s book on “Desert island Discs” and it does some really interesting things with links to clips from the show, biogs of the people and more detail on stuff. Yet another feature that would work for a book on the subject we’re discussing here.

  47. Mark Bachouse September 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Greg knows…


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