Cutting Shapes – How House Music Really Hit The UK

Moss Side Manchester

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.

That said, what’s clear from this whole kerfuffle is that there are a significant amount of mainly white enthusiasts on the scene today who seem to segregate House as somehow belonging to them, whilst suggesting the black crowd should stick to ‘their own music’, the likes of Grime, Hip Hop, R&B and other more ‘urban’ genres. This is all despite the fact that House, as anyone with even a basic awareness of its origins would tell you, was born within Chicago’s black clubbing community back in the mid-’80s.

The 25th anniversary of the Acid House ‘Second Summer Of Love’ is upon us (the original ‘Summer Of Love’, of course, being way back in psychedelic ’67, emanating from the Hippie movement of San Francisco). It’s remarkable that House music has been the main staple of British dancefloors for a colossal quarter of a century, the original ‘ravers’ now middle-aged. Yet despite its importance to this country’s popular culture, its true roots have never been fully acknowledged. In fact, if you told many of those on the House scene today that it was mainly black kids in the UK who first embraced the music, they’d no doubt look at you incredulously, for everybody knows that Ibiza ’87 was year zero, as this is how the story has, and continues to be told – the true origins in the relatively grim cities of the North and Midlands buried deep beneath the sun-drenched romance of the White Isle.

What’s even more remarkable is that the original style of dancing to House music in this country, before the hands in the air approach of the Rave era, was uncannily similar to shuffling, as illustrated by this now historic video, recorded at the Moss Side Community Centre in Manchester on September 27th 1986:

When it was originally uploaded, the title chosen for this clip, ‘Mastermind Roadshow in Moss Side’, was somewhat misleading. Although Mastermind, the influential London DJ collective who were responsible for mixing most of the seminal ‘Street Sounds Electro’ compilations, did indeed appear that night, the DJ playing in this clip is none other than Mike Shaft, the legendary Soul & Funk specialist who graced the Manchester airwaves, his mid-Atlantic microphone style unmistakeable. Most importantly it includes a routine from Foot Patrol who adapted the Jazz-Fusion style of dancing to early House – in this respect they may well be described as prototype foot shufflers.

I was initially made aware of this clip via the Deep House and Techno producer Tony Lionni. It was amazing to see this room jam-packed with black kids, some of whom I knew personally, getting down to House music before, as many commentators would have you believe, the genre had made any real impact here – Ibiza ’87 still almost a year away. It was a real anthropological find, and a longer version of the footage can be viewed here on the Soul Control website: http://www.soulcontrol.tv/video2.html

This is something I’d been mocked for in certain circles for stating as fact, so to see my words validated via these momentous moving images was so much more than I could have hoped for – the proof being very much in the pudding, so to speak. A couple of years earlier I was frantically searching, without success, for a photograph to visually back up my attestation that it was the black crowd in Manchester who were responsible for bringing dance music to the fore at The Haçienda during the mid-’80s, when it had previously been regarded as an alternative / indie stronghold. People rarely took snapshots in clubs back then, but The Guardian, who were interested in running the piece (to be written by Marc Rowlands), insisted on photographic evidence before it was commissioned. The best I could come up with was Ian Tilton’s classic shot of Manchester dance troupe Foot Patrol performing at The Haçienda, but it was an image of regular clubbers they wanted, and, frustratingly, as this couldn’t be provided the article was shelved.

Foot Patrol at Hacienda by Ian Tilton

Foot Patrol can lay claim to being the original House music foot shufflers (although some people nowadays look across the world to cite Australia and ‘The Melbourne Shuffle’ as the starting point in the late ’80s), their style is traceable back to the Jazz-Funk scene of the late ’70s / early ’80s, and the ‘fusion crews’ that challenged each other (it was from these crews that many of the UK’s archetypal breakdancers emerged, having already developed the athleticism to attempt the dynamic moves demanded). Hewan Clarke, a Jazz aficionado, would become the original Haçienda DJ before returning to the black scene, where he helped facilitate the House movement in embryo (along with, most notably, the hugely influential Colin Curtis – who’d previously been a pivotal DJ on both the Northern Soul and Jazz-Funk scenes – as well as Piccadilly Radio Dance music presenter, Stu Allan, who was responsible for championing House music on the North-West airwaves, greatly widening its popularity in the process). Hewan recalls how it all evolved;

“Samson and his crew (Foot Patrol as they’d come to be known) would travel all over the country. They’d go to Birmingham. They’d go to clubs in Nottingham, Leeds, Derby, all the happening places. They’d be picking up a lot of styles from clubs and bringing them back to Manchester. These guys were very innovative in terms of the way they were moving on the floor, because the way you move on the floor depicts the type of music that’s played to keep you moving like that. So, this new music was coming out. We knew you couldn’t dance to it the old way we used to dance to Jazz, Funk and Soul and stuff, and it was people like Samson that brought this new dance in and it really hit a vein amongst a young group of dancers at the time and people like myself. We looked at them, saw the way they were dancing and that was how the whole House thing developed.”

But why was it the North and the Midlands at the vanguard when it came to the emergence of House (also then known as Garage, in reference to the type of music you might hear at NYC’s famous Paradise Garage) in the UK?

Firstly I should explain what was meant by ‘the black scene’, as it was referred to back then. As the name suggests, this is where you’d find black kids dancing to the most cutting-edge music of the time, alongside the more adventurous white kids, who unified with their black brethren during what was still an overtly racist time, to transcend this divisive era via a love of music. The passion of this scene can’t be understated, with many people, amidst Thatcher’s Britain, on the dole with little prospect of work, yet thinking nothing of travelling 50, even 100 miles, to hear what they considered the most upfront music available – the majority of it fresh in on import from the US. They’d make sure that they were at the top club nights and All-Dayers, literally by hook or by crook – it was that fundamental to their existence.

What should be taken into account is that there was a definite North / South divide pre-Rave, with very little crossover between the DJs – Southern DJs rarely played up North and vice-versa. This led to differences in emphasis, and, during the mid-’80s, things had moved in contrasting directions. In London the Rare Groove scene held sway, and the illegal warehouse parties of this period would lay the foundations for the Rave events that followed later in the decade – Rare Groove set the environment. This was, once again, black led, with DJ Norman Jay at the heart of things. It was very much a London movement, which, as huge as it was in the capitol, never really gained a foothold in the main black music strongholds of the North and Midlands at the time – Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leeds and, of course, Manchester. There was much interconnectivity between these cities, and this had its origins in the All-Dayer scene, dating back to the Jazz-Funk era. So, whilst London chimed to Rare Groove and Boogie, the North and Midlands continued the more Electro geared direction that had defined the early ’80s, with House (before it was referred to as such) initially regarded as a rhythmically straighter take on Electro, out of Chicago rather than New York. This was the arena in which the early Trax and DJ International releases first found favour on this side of the Atlantic – supplemented by the Hip Hop and Street Soul flavours of the time on the specialist scene.

Trax DJ International

This is not to say that there weren’t DJs in London championing House at this point. Jazzy M is often cited as one of the UK pioneers, alongside names like Noel & Maurice Watson, Colin Faver, Eddie Richards and Mark Moore (the latter 3 responsible for exposing House to an influential mixed gay audience, unconnected to the Hi-NRG scene, some of whom, coincidently, were taking Ecstasy pre-Ibiza). Hosting ‘The Jacking Zone’ on London Pirate station LWR, as well as running the record shop, Vinyl Zone, Jazzy M was evangelical in his support of House, but initially found it a hard slog to get the music he loved taken seriously down South. He remembered;

“Though they’d started playing it in Manchester, most of London was still caught up in that Rare Groove and Hip Hop thing. A lot of people were saying to me ‘why are you playing this Hi-NRG’ and it was hard work but people were starting to get into it.”

The Manchester clubs that sparked things off were The Playpen, The Gallery, Legend and Berlin, with Colin Curtis, Hewan Clarke and Stu Allan at the forefront of things. Allan also wielded huge power via his weekly radio show, which was broadcast to a vast amount of people throughout the region every Sunday (Piccadilly being one of the UK’s most popular local radio stations). Laurent Garnier, not yet a DJ, but in the North-West of England working as a chef at the time, recalls the trouble he had obtaining a copy of Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ (a record that would subsequently make the UK Top 10, the first House hit), when it first came in on import in ’86;

“I was living half an hour from Manchester, and there was a shop called Spin Inn. You had to call them to make sure they’d save the records for you, because they’d only have five copies of each and it wasn’t sure if you could get them. With ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’, it took me months to finally get a copy. And of course to hear the songs this DJ, Stu Allan, was on the radio in Manchester and I was listening to his show and taping the show.”

At The Haçienda, Mike Pickering (then partnered by Martin Prendergast), was on a roll, his Nude night on a Friday really gaining momentum, with major representation from Manchester’s black strongholds of Hulme and Moss Side, the audience “fifty percent black, fifty percent white”, and attracting some serious dancers in the process. Graham Massey, later of 808 State, recalled; “Friday nights were a lot more black, yet much more to my taste in the jazzy area…people that took dancing seriously in that jazz dancing kind of way”. Pickering was soon to become a central figure in the House music story – as he tells it, “a young kid from Moss Side” handed him his first House record, ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis (1986), and when he played it “the club went crazy”. Adonis, along with Latin Jazz and Salsa musician, Tito Puente, provided the inspiration for ‘Carino’ by T-Coy (1987), the first UK House track to make a national impact, courtesy of Pickering and Simon Topping (previously members of Factory Records band Quando Quango) in collaboration with the late keyboardist, Richie Close (the track crucially supported by Stu Allan on his radio show, and later Coldcut on Kiss FM in London). Foot Patrol (also 2 other local crews, the She Devils and Fusion Beats) were featured in the promo video:

For more about the fabled Manchester venue in the years leading up to the Rave explosion, check out Tim Lawrence’s ‘Discotheque Haçienda’ sleeve notes:

Hacienda Chicago House Party 1987

Elsewhere, DJ’s like Graeme Park at The Garage in Nottingham and Winston & Parrot at Jive Turkey in Sheffield were starting to have a big influence in those cities (they would also combine for a series of memorable ‘The Steamer’ nights at Sheffield’s Leadmill). Park would eventually come across to The Haçienda in 1988, hooking up with Mike Pickering to form one of the most celebrated DJ partnerships of all;

“obviously I knew Mike cos we were doing a very similar thing. I went to The Haçienda and couldn’t believe what I saw because obviously it was three times as big as what I was doing in Nottingham and a real kinda mix, a lot of black faces there”.

Completing the trinity of Haçienda House specialists was Jon DaSilva, and everything was now in place for the venue to become the most important club for the furtherance of House music, not only in the UK, but the world.

Later down the line, when the documentation of the House / Rave scene went into overdrive, with the Ibiza story overriding everything that had gone before, I couldn’t help but regard it as a whitewashing of black culture in this country. I was no longer directly involved with the club scene at this point, just watching events unfold from the sidelines, so my hope was that someone would come along to set the record straight – but it didn’t happen. Article after article, then book after book began to appear, but there was always this great glaring omission with regards to how things had originally flourished via the black scene. Although it often felt as though the sinister undertones of cultural racism were at play, I came to realise that the writers simply weren’t aware of what had happened because they were never a part of the black scene – most had only got into dance music with the advent of Acid House and Ecstasy, so had no personal knowledge of the black clubs that had led the way. Instead of making the proper connection to what had gone before, they generally took the easy, more romantic option, making Ibiza ’87 their starting point, and thus creating a mythology that persists to this day.

I could quote from a selection of books, documentaries and articles, showing how this misinformation has perpetuated down the years – and not just by those writing about dance culture, but consequently music documentarians working in a wider context. Only recently I was enjoying the highly informative ’33 Revolutions Per Minute’ (2010) by Dorian Lynskey, a book that outlines the history of the protest song. There’s a chapter about Rave culture, and the more political messages contained in the music, but it also endorses the myth I’ve been talking about, authoritatively stating that; ‘The DJs who brought House and Techno to Britain did so via the sun-kissed idyll of Ibiza’. When I come across this type of error, it makes me question what else in the book might be inaccurate, but in this case I can’t be too critical of the author – he’s only repeating what has been presented as fact so many times by people purported to be dance music experts. If the specialists can’t get it right, what hope for those who are dependent on the authenticity of these specialists.

Most people couldn’t care less about origins and lineage – they like the music, but don’t want to study it. However, there are always a significant minority whose love of music, or a particular genre of music, creates enough fascination in them to want to explore its roots and branches. Unfortunately there’s precious little in print that enables even students of dance culture access to the full picture, allowing them to make a balanced assessment of why things worked out the way they did.

By omitting the Black British contribution to our culture we hide the fullness of its riches, and know less about ourselves as a consequence (regardless of our personal ethnicity). It’s an inspirational story that needs to be known, in order to serve the future – culture is all about connections and fusions, previously separate aspects coming together to create a new expression, and this is exactly what happened in Britain with the black / white mix of ideas and identity that shaped (and continues to shape) the course of popular culture in this country.

A Guy Called Gerald (1)

Gerald Simpson (aka A Guy Called Gerald) provides the perfect analogy for what happened in Manchester. Most people would assume that he went to The Haçienda, heard this incredible House music for the first time, had an epiphany, and then went home and set to work on the era defining single ‘Voodoo Ray’ (which he wrote with Foot Machine in mind, visualising how they might dance to it). The reality, of course, is that Gerald and his contemporaries were those very kids from Hulme and Moss Side, who brought House music into The Haçienda in the first place. Gerald had already been on the black scene for many years, dancing to Jazz-Funk, then Electro, before starting out with the Scratch Beatmasters as a Hip Hop DJ (MC Tunes rapping). ‘Voodoo Ray’ isn’t an orthodox House track, but a culmination of his influences – The Haçienda providing the perfect setting in which to unleash this quintessential British dance track. Inadvertently bestowing Gerald with his name was Stu Allan – prior to ‘Voodoo Ray’, on playing a track he’d been given on tape by a local newcomer, he told his Piccadilly listeners that it was by a guy called Gerald from Hulme.

Whilst Ibiza and its Balearic spirit would mark a seismic shift for British dance culture, this had more to do with resultant emergence of the drug Ecstasy within British clubland than the House music of Chicago – House, as illustrated, having already become a key component of underground dance culture well before DJs Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker made that fateful trip to visit their friend and fellow DJ, Trevor Fung, in the summer of ’87 (Fung, who lived on the island at the time, has found himself increasingly marginalised within the story as the years pass, despite the fact that it was his pioneering spirit that brought the others out there in the first place). It’s a tale that, even from its inception, generated a life of its own, re-writing history as the past was largely eclipsed and, to paraphrase a popular track of the period, Everything, seemingly, began with an E. Graeme Park saw it as the South grabbing the spotlight, having originally been beaten to the punch where House was concerned;

“I mean me and Mike Pickering never went to Ibiza but we had a massive scene. That was just that London thing of ‘we invented everything’, y’know? I really do think that.”

Some people may rightfully point out that, if there was such a major black influence on what happened at The Haçienda, why are black people clearly in the minority in the photos and video footage of the club at the height of its fame? The answer is that when the whole thing blew up in 1988, and legions of E’d up white kids, most of whom previously had little affinity with dance music, staked their claim to its ‘discovery’, the blacks, who regarded this as their space, their precious dancing space, being invaded, gradually moved on (Konspiracy, with DJs like the Jam MC’s, Nick Grayson, Justin Robertson and Greg Fenton, subsequently becoming their club of choice before the police closed it down, with the black presence in the city centre clubs rapidly decreasing as a consequence). Mike Pickering believes the influx of ecstasy was a factor with the black audience, most of whom were purely herbal in their choice of highs;

“I think the drugs put them off, because they didn’t take them in those days”.

Colin Curtis echoed this opinion;

“most of the black guys, that I knew anyway, didn’t take that particular drug…they didn’t need to, they came to dance, it was about the dance, the chilling afterwards was a different party”.

However, Mike Pickering believed that the invasion of their dancefloor space was the defining aspect;

“I likened it to the Mexican wave coming across the club. Everyone was doing the same dance and there was no room. The black dancers didn’t dig that.”

It’s ironic to think that today’s foot shufflers are criticised for the very thing that made the black dancers desert The Haçienda in their droves – wanting to express themselves on the dancefloor, without being confined to hands in the air standing room only. The dance of the ravers wasn’t about footwork, but arm and hip movements, the feet pretty much rooted to the same spot, which was never going to satisfy the physicality of those who’d graduated from the school of Fusion, where the feet did the talking, and cutting shapes didn’t mean ‘big box little box’ type moves.

Laurent Garnier, who’d been summoned back to France in 1988 for his national service, expressed his surprise on finding, when he later returned to Manchester, that the black crowd had largely moved on from The Haçienda. With the audience now predominantly white, and House music playing all night long, Mike Pickering, even as The Haçienda was gaining universal acclaim, began to have reservations;

“I regretted the fact that once you’d come down off the E everything was pure House…I could tell even in 1989 that that wasn’t a good thing and that what we were doing before was much more precious, because we were playing a wider range of music. By 1989 we were slaves to the beat.”

Trip To Hell

Acid House and its drug associations resulted in a full scale media frenzy, not least in the pages of The Sun, which, whilst rallying against the evils of Ecstasy, only served to further popularise the movement with the younger generation. All of a sudden, people who’d previously had little affinity with dance music were popping pills and swamping the dancefloor. House was the soundtrack, and whilst it remained very much underground in its country of origin, it became something of a mainstream obsession in Britain – everyone, it seemed, wanted to join the dance.

House music, supplemented by MDMA, would, of course, go on to dominate the dance landscape in the UK throughout the coming decades, but for many people who were there at the start, something had been lost. Deep House would retain the connection to the black scene, but black people became but a small minority when it came to the overall House demographic in Britain, and indeed Europe, more likely to be found dancing to urban flavours in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa than raving in Ibiza.

What’s sad is that black and white generally separated following the Acid House explosion, whereas, throughout the ’80s, there was a real meeting of minds, and it was this very coming together that created the conditions for a club like The Haçienda to flourish in the first place – the black kids from areas like Hulme and Moss Side interacting with the students and Indie enthusiasts who’d made up the venue’s original audience, to place Manchester right at the centre of worldwide dance culture during that heady late 80’s into early 90’s period.

Despite the separation on the House side of things (or perhaps because of it) British black music would flourish in the post-Rave period. Taking the essence of Rave, but adding the breakbeats of Hip Hop, whilst underpinning this with the Bass culture of Jamaican heritage, they would create their own new directions, beginning with Hardcore, before morphing into Jungle, Drum & Bass, UK Garage and, as a new century dawned, onwards into Grime and beyond. No longer was black music in the UK regarded as simply a pale imitation of the real deal from the US and JA (which was a bit harsh on some of the wonderful pre-Rave British black / dance releases), but a hybrid style all of its own, influenced by America and Jamaica, but infused with a unique home grown sensibility.

Foot Shufflers Not Permitted

With regards to the cutting of shapes, Tim Lawrence hit the nail on the head when he made the comparison between the two distinct ways of dancing to House, pre and post-Ecstasy. He pointed out that

“black social dance created space for individual expression within collective movement”, whereas the ravers “generated a wave of bliss in which the euphoria of the crowd all but drowned out the individual”.

Whilst I understand the appeal of the communal experience, and the sense of belonging that can go with it, I don’t think that this should be at the expense of individual expression, especially now, at a time when, to vast swathes of clubbers, community has been reduced to bobbing up and down on the spot, facing the same way as everyone else (towards the DJ), with a fist pumping high, or worse still, a mobile phone raised aloft. Speaking for myself, there’s nothing I like to see more than a dancefloor where people are facing each other, not me, whilst grooving away to the tunes I play as they give it up and get down, immersing themselves in the moment by losing themselves in the music.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Acid House

Thanks to NM-L & GK.

Second Summer Of Love Wikipedia:

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107 Responses to Cutting Shapes – How House Music Really Hit The UK

  1. Parrot July 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Possibly unusually, I went to many clubs & dances on both sides of the imagined regional divide in the era being addressed.
    (And also different nights across the spectrum of dance music).
    In London, the Electric Ballroom, Wag, Cat In The Hat, Beat Route, Africa Centre, Jungle, Shoom, Mud, RAW blah blah.
    Even visited out of the way stuff like the Boilerhouse, just for a look.
    Up here, I saw nights and days in Manny, Notts, Derby, Leeds, Bradford, Udders, Borough, Burningham etc.
    And of course, sunny Sheffield…
    Also unusually for a Northern Monkey, Spin Inn wasn’t my port of call for buying vinyl.
    Because I visited London quite a bit, Bluebird, & then when I found out about what Jazzy was doing, Spin Offs in Hammersmith were my counter leaning spots.
    (Richie Rich also worked behind the till in Spin Offs for a while, when he was still a scratch DJ well prior to Salsa House).

    That House Music was more popular in the Midlands/North for a couple of years (85 to 87) is beyond dispute.
    The pinnacle of that particular faze in the UK was the Trax dayer at Rock City.
    After that, many of the young Black dancers who’d adopted the music so enthusiastically began to want the next thing.
    People were hearing about the Rare Groove scene, records like All This Love, Across The Tracks etc were creeping up the M1.
    UK Street Soul was getting stronger and stronger…
    The Whop was in fashion, fucking hard to do at 120 plus BPM…
    From the first few tracks coming over in 85, House had built and built until it ruled the North from 86 to mid 87.
    Of course it was still popular after that point, but it wasn’t the biggest bump in town any more…

    Also beyond dispute is that the Ibiza/E crowd totally re-energised the form, and without them we wouldn’t be talking about this now.
    The Shoomers, their clothes and attitude is what Acid House was and still is for most people.

    Obviously things and people are a bit more mixed up than that, and there were many, many people in the South heavily into House in the early days.
    Many more liked the odd taste amongst whatever else they consumed on a night out.

    Also, amongst the football lads and lasses that Fung, Oakenfold etc found when they went to Ibiza were plenty from Sheffield, Manchester, Middlesborough etc…

    What happens is that people with big mouths and something to sell (usually themselves) make the most noise, and what they say tends to become accepted as a truthful record of what really went on.
    It’d be impossible for me to compare Shoom to Clink St or Spectrum, because I only went to Shoom, and then only once.
    I did go to the Hac many times, and as Anif points out, prior to the arival of E (or X as it was originally known) it certainly wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
    What we called Garage (up until early 86, when the wonderful James Hammilton enlightened us to the name House) was played in all manner of places and spaces,
    but was adopted most enthusiastically by the Dayer crowd & the clubs they frequented.
    Rock City was the biggest Dayer at the time, and Colin Curtis the biggest DJ on the scene.
    (With the only known copy of Jack The Bass as his biggest track!).

    The Dayer crowd was drawn from all over, and each town of course would have it’s own favoured nights.
    Those nights and their DJ’s may have been connected, or completely unconnected to the main “Soul” scene, but the youngsters didn’t care about that, they just wanted to be where the music was played.

    And for a couple of years, Garage/House (played alongside other things…) was the thing they wanted.

  2. Greg Wilson July 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Hi Jonathan – you illustrate the point I’m trying to make via what you say about Noel & Maurice Watson. It wasn’t that House was not being played at all in London (I’d be a fool of mammoth proportions to make that assertion), but that the DJ’s were experiencing more resistance to the music than they were in the North / Midlands – it didn’t ‘rule’ the South at that pre-Rave point, as Parrot attested it ‘ruled the North’. This North v South debate always flares up and people take extreme views, completely misinterpreting what is said, so that if I state that ‘things evolved quicker in the North’, that’s presented by some as me saying ‘nothing happened in the South’, which is a complete misrepresentation and insulting to those who did embrace the music at an early stage in London, yourself included.

    Hi Dave – your input is always welcome here, so feel free to share your views on any of those 100 other things you mentioned. Chad Jackson was also at The Hacienda mid-80’s, so, as you say, there was plenty of black music representation there outside of what was happening at Nude Night. As for On-U Sound – one of my favourite gigs of all-time was their ‘Pay It All Back’ appearance in Manchester (April 20th ’91).

    Hi RJJNYC – no problem, it’s clearly a prickly subject. It’s all about emphasis – and different people, from different locations, are always going to disagree on what the most important aspects were. There’s absolutely no doubt that the Ibiza trip in ’87 completely changed the course of club culture, not only here, but worldwide, in ways we could never have envisaged – that’s without question. However, the tributaries leading up to this, like the black scene in the North and Midlands, and, as you mention, the gay scene in London, are vital to our understanding of why this all happened as it did.

    Hi Parrot – great to have the contribution of another DJ who was right there amidst things from the early stages. When I interviewed Hewan Clarke, he told me about the time Colin Curtis first played ‘Jack The Dick’, the flip of ‘Jack The Bass’ at The Playpen in Manchester – this was one of the early Trax releases from ’85. The fact that Colin is almost never mentioned with reference to House, apart from in my own writings, is a major omission (that said, he rarely gets mentioned for his key role in the Jazz-Funk scene – many people would be forgiven for thinking that all he ever played was Northern Soul at the Blackpool Mecca in the 70’s).

  3. RJJNYC July 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Sure thing, but please appreciate that it is completely, ridiculously untrue to say that Colin Faver, Eddie Richards and Mark Moore played house to a gay crowd that was otherwise dancing to a lot of Hi-NRG. It’s confusing two completely different gay scenes. Not to say that people on that scene didn’t listen to *any* Hi-NRG records, but there was no overlap with the mustachioed, shirts-off Ian Levine crowd.

  4. RJJNYC July 22, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    I promise I’ll shut up after this but just found some great photos from Jungle (including a lovely photo of the gorgeous Breeze) on Steve Swindells blog here (starts about half way down the page, along with a little history about the club):


  5. Greg Wilson July 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi RJJNYC – I think you might be getting a little prickly again 🙂 What do you want me to say, that Hi-NRG wasn’t the most popular form of dance music on the gay scene in the mid-80’s? I’ve given props to Mark Moore, Colin Faver and Eddie Richards, the 3 DJ’s who seem to be universally acknowledged as introducing House music on gay nights, but, in the greater scheme of things, this very much played second fiddle to Hi-NRG, which was a major force, both within the gay scene in general (rather than selected club nights) and commercially, pre-Rave. You write that it’s “ ridiculously untrue to say that Colin Faver, Eddie Richards and Mark Moore played house to a gay crowd that was otherwise dancing to a lot of Hi-NRG”, but I don’t say the last part of that anywhere, just that Hi-NRG was the dominant force on the overall gay scene in London at the time, which I don’t think is a statement many would dispute. It’s really frustrating to be misquoted in this way – I’m with you, not against you, in saying that the gay scene’s role in bringing House to the fore should be given greater acknowledgement.

    No need to shut up though, your contribution is more than welcome – some fascinating stuff in that Steve Swindells piece you linked.

  6. Parrot July 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Thanks RJJNYC!
    That Steve Swindells link has reminded me what the night behind Heaven was called
    – I’ve been trying to remember all bleeding day!
    It was called Bad for anyone that’s interested, and it was very, very good…

    Just in case I came across a bit Northern in my first post, I’d like to add to what RJJNYC and others have said about the likes of Mark Moore, Colin Faver, Evil Eddie etc.
    They played a LOT of House Music, alongside lots of other good music.
    Ok, they were DJing to a different crowd, so there was less of an emphasis on footworking tunes.
    But that’s one of the things about House isn’t it..?
    It can scratch multiple itches, all at the same time…

    Certainly, the keenest, most clued up dancers up here were interested in what was going on down there.
    They were constantly on the hunt for new tunes, for the next thing, for the future.
    (Little Ricky from Foot Patrol would badger me constantly about what I found on my trips to London.
    Eventually, he managed to obtain a tape of Jazzy M on LWR to be scrutinised for tracks…).

    Great days for dancing back then, the crowd certainly kept the DJ’s on their toes.
    People would know what had come into Spin Inn that week, that morning, that afternoon.
    You’d better have got those records… And preferably something everybody else had missed!

  7. Miles July 23, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    This article has been annoying me for a few days now, because it is littered with factual inaccuracies and assertions presented as fact. So, I thought I should take the time to comment properly.

    I don’t doubt for one moment that house music was accepted in readily Manchester but regardless of what you say elsewhere in comments section, the title you used for the article ‘How House Really Hit The Uk’ absolutely seeks to claim perpetuate the ‘we did it first’ North vs South argument, and moreover, it is absolute nonsense. One video of foot patrol dancing to house the autumn of 1986 proves nothing other than foot patrol danced to a house record the autumn of 1986.

    House was around already and being played alongside other electronic dance music in clubs in London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester and I sure most everywhere else there were underground dance scenes. Making the jump from Colonel Abrahams or Serious Intention or Visual or Cybertron (believe me, electro was massive in London) any of the other records that were big back then and are now regarded as ‘proto-house’ , to early house music was a big one to make for people that enjoyed that sound.

    But house how it really ‘hit’ Britain and stopped being the preserve of a few DJs, was quite simply through the major record companies.

    In July 1986 DJ International did a showcase at the New Music Seminar in New York, which as you know was attended by lots of British record company A&R types. One of them, a certain Pete Tong, a former Blues and Soul writer and soul DJ from Kent, with a show on Invicta (before he moved to Captial), signed the DJ International crew up. That led to 3 nationally significant house releases.

    The first was Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ which reached number 10 in the national charts in September 1986. I think we all remember Daryl Pandy on Top Of the Pops in sequins but if anyone doesn’t here’s a video clip, recorded of a prime time show national television, also in September 1986:


    Subsequent to this single, in October 1986 London Records released the ‘House Sound Of Chicago Vol 1’ album. As RJJNYC has stated, this was massive and whilst I remember reading somewhere that it stayed in the album charts for a ridiculously long time (can’t remember where I read that though).

    Then in January 1987 JM Silk’s ‘Jack Your Body’ went to number 1 in the national charts.

    I think the suggestion that house music hit Britain through the underground clubs of the midlands and the north and was poorly regarded a elsewhere when it was riding high in the national charts absolutely beggars belief, and that seems to be the central thrust of your argument.

    I also I don’t believe anyone who even has a basic understanding of London club history believes Oakenfold, Rampling, etc brought back house from Ibiza after the summer of 1987, so there is no revisionism here, just lazy journalism from those that report that as fact.

    RJJNYC has covered the significance of house in gay clubs (and much of the early London house scene became very mixed sexually, with polarity between straight and gay clubs that existed before and after breaking down for a few years – although this is the view of a straight man with many gay friends). You also mention Jazzy M who played a very significant roll and of course the Watson Brothers, who were not only running a straight up house club at Delirium but also brought Frankie Knuckles over to London for a 4 month residency in early 1987 – before the Ibiza trip even happened. To give you an idea of how unaccepting London was, Frankie was meant to stay for 2 weeks but he told me liked it so much he stayed for 4 months and seriously considered moving to London full time.

    What Rampling and Co did bring back from Ibiza though was the fashion, the dancing, the mind-set, the whole package that formed acid house culture. And that changed everything.

    I spoke Marshall Jefferson about his visits to the UK at that time and when he came on the Chicago House Music party tour in early 1987 and he said “There was no acid house then. The first time we went it was people in suits and ties man…. for the most part, people being like, “What the fuck is this?””

    Then, “When I came back 6 months later after Acid Trax had come out, that’s when we found our place, T-shirts and all that shit. And I was like, “What the fuck is going on here?” Aciiiiiied Aciiiiiied!”

    I’m sure that there was a cross pollination of ideas between the major cities like Manchester, Sheffield (where I think many of the early UK house records originated like Krush and Jack ‘N’ Chill, long before a Guy Called Gerald pressed anything to vinyl) and London, with clubs like Shoom and Nude playing pivotal roles.

    So in summary, I don’t believe there was a big bang moment when ‘house really hit the UK’.

  8. Richard Hardcastle July 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Great article Greg, and some fascinating follow-up debate which Im still absorbing… As a footnote some people might find this article / interview I did with Parrot of interest, as we dwelt a good deal on the early days of House in the UK, from a Sheffield perspective – http://www.faithfanzine.com/?p=1422

  9. Alex McKenzie July 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Another classy article Greg – much appreciated, as always. It has certainly provoked people to share their own experiences of the impact ‘dance music’ has had on British culture over the last 30 years or so (an influence that of course dates back 50 or 60 years – at least).

    Although the title of the piece might seem to suggest that here, at last, was a definitive account of how one particular form of dance music (House) made an impact in the UK, my reading of the article (as another passionate and thoughtful piece on this always-worth reading blog) was that it primarily sought to correct the ‘dominant discourse’ impression that House music hit the UK in the wake of ‘Ibiza87’ – even though the people actually involved at that time (and it was obviously massively important and influential) wouldn’t dream of suggesting that they were the originators.

    The reason that’s important (it seems to me) is precisely because ‘dance music’ has, at least since the early years of the 20th century in the US, been instrumental in cultivating understanding and ‘inclusivity’ – whether between ‘Black and White’; ‘Straight and Gay’; or even ‘North and South’. And it’s always enriching to hear a little bit more of the “true” story – even if it’s unlikely ever to be the last word.

    So thanks again Greg – and thanks also to Richard Hardcastle and the link to the interview with ‘Parrot’; another really knowledgeable insight that I would have completely missed if I hadn’t followed this thread.

    ‘Spread Love’

  10. Roual July 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I’m quite passionate about the accusations at the beginning of the piece which centres around modern day racism towards ‘foot shuffling’ by black youth from white house fraternity.

    “That said, what’s clear from this whole kerfuffle is that there are a significant amount of mainly white enthusiasts on the scene today who seem to segregate House as somehow belonging to them, whilst suggesting the black crowd should stick to ‘their own music’, the likes of Grime, Hip Hop, R&B and other more ‘urban’ genres.”

    I’ve not picked up on any overtly racism from the many friends that I have who live in London, the UK, Europe and go out dancing to house music. Forming an opinion which appears to be based on a facebook page is not really where one should look for a serious basis for opinion forming.

    As you quite rightly pointed out the roots of house music are quite clearly set in black Chicago. Yet house is now synonymous with so many different off breed genres that bears no connection to house music’s roots. Whilst I don’t deny that there’s been a backlash against shuffling, i’ll argue vehemently that these comments were not made from anybody connected to the roots of house.

    Manchester and yourself were both hugely influential inadvertently in me changing my musical taste away from my teenage punk years to ‘black music.’ I moved to South Manchester aged 16 in 83 and lived there for a year. All my friends loved electro, soul and funk. Some caught you at Legend, but many talked about you as a myth mainly because of the age of us all. We were all too young, skint and jobless to go out clubbing in that year I lived there.

    Moving back to Edinburgh in 84 there was a natural progression through electro, rap, funk, soul, jazz to garage. I was massively into the Garage sound at the time with Serious Intention, Gwen Guthrie, Sleeque, LIFE, etc. The first house record I bought was probably by JM Silk ‘I Can’t Turn Around’ or something similar. If i’m honest it didn’t make much sense to me at the time, but during that year I got to know Yogi. I went to one of his club nights called Texas that he ran with a fella called Sam. He played ‘Jack The Groove’ early doors on the decent loud system and it kind of made sense. It sounded solid and punchy. Alot more sense then on the club system i’d played it on previously. Certainly the Texas (85-87) and the Hooch (88-89) were hugely instrumental in bringing house music to the fore in the east of Scotland.

    Musically it was a pot pourri of black music sounds encompassing mainly Yogi’s years of the Mecca, Casino, Legend, etc. It sat rap next to jazz next to techno next to funk next to northern next to house.

    the point of the second statement is that house was being supported in pockets in many over cities than Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Birmingham.

    The rest of it has been more eloquently covered in my opinion by RJJNYC, Miles and Parrot.

    House was a musical force that grew slowly with the assistance of great records, drugs, fashion and the burgeoning youth print magazines.

  11. Greg Wilson July 24, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    Hi Miles – I can only repeat that we’re looking at the same thing but from different angles. What you say about London Records is all correct, and they clearly played a big part in commercialising the music, but even Paul Oakenfold, who was doing club promotion for London around this point, talks in his book about Rare Groove being the dominant force in London around this time, whilst House was more associated with the scene North of Watford. It’s not a slur on London to suggest that these separate regions of the country evolved differently, it’s just wanting to draw attention to what was happening in the North and Midlands, and how the cultural contribution of young black people at the time has been pretty much binned with regards to providing House music with an underground platform (not to mention helping lay the groundwork from which The Hacienda became a world-famous venue), which was one of the main factors in enabling London Records to initially bring the genre to mainstream attention via the likes of Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk. Before it was ever a British hit Laurent Garnier remembers ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ from when it was pretty much as underground as it gets, he said (to quote from the blog piece); “I was living half an hour from Manchester, and there was a shop called Spin Inn. You had to call them to make sure they’d save the records for you, because they’d only have five copies of each and it wasn’t sure if you could get them. With ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’, it took me months to finally get a copy. And of course to hear the songs this DJ, Stu Allan, was on the radio in Manchester and I was listening to his show and taping the show.” The underground feeds the mainstream, and this was certainly the case when Pete Tong started licensing House music in ’86.

    Hi Richard – thanks for linking the Parrot interview, there’s a lot of things he says that echo my own views, including his thought on ‘tempo-fascism’ and, of course, how the black crowd “pulled the UK club scene forwards by always being on the lookout for new sounds, styles, rhythms and dances”.

    Hi Alex – you’re right in your reading of the piece, the title referred to the Ibiza ’87 version of the story, and how this has overridden everything that went before. My main focus however was to illuminate the part played by the black scene, particularly the dancers – the important thing for me is that, after years and years of being pretty much excluded from the story, the significance of their contribution may be understood a bit better, at least by the people who read the piece. There’s never just one account of something – if I want to learn about an artist, or an era, I cross-reference my sources, and it’s from this process that I form my own opinions. So, by the same token, I’d tell people who were interested in learning more about how House became such a big concern in this country, you should also take on board the accounts of what was happening in London during a similar timescale to what I’m writing about with regards to the North, and, even though it’s not viewed as a major player on the House side of things, Bristol – for that was a massively influential city, where all sorts of new ideas were busy fermenting in the mid-80’s.

    Hi Roual – I’d be totally shocked if people on your side of the House scene held racist views, so please don’t think the piece was in any way referring to you and your friends. That said, there are obviously many sides to this House juggernaut, so, as with life in general, I’m not surprised that there are people elsewhere who’d hold ignorant views, showing little regard for the history of this movement, which was always about inclusivity. Enjoyed hearing about Edinburgh and Yogi Haughton (the one and only). Yogi, as they used to say, had his ear to the ground – so he’s going to have picked up on House at an early stage. In an age when people can hear a record, then instantly download it online, it must be difficult for them to put themselves into the headspace of how things worked back then, with one or two shops in the country perhaps having 2 or 3 copies of a track that’s about to blow up the following weekend when, using Manchester as the example, Mike Shaft or Stu Allan drop one of these rare beauties over the airwaves, and Spin Inn can confidently order in quantity the following week. It’s not as though these records were generally available, and this is why it couldn’t have happened everywhere at once – it was either the cities that had the main specialist radio shows / import shops, or DJ’s in other cities, like Yogi, who had access to these channels. These DJ’s were always going to have the head start.

  12. Jonathan Moore July 24, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Something else that’s probably worth mentioning as part of this post is that we’re all collectively discussing house music of the mid eighties as a single genre but this certainly isn’t the case and not all of the faster Bpm stuff that was beginning to permeate through UK clubs was music whose roots would be considered black by the soul/jazz DJ’s who held sway at the time. Early detroit techno stuff like Cybertron’s Clear was still very much an Electro record and one whose influences were far more European in nature (as much the mid 80’s Detroit output was). Those early Todd Terry and Frankie Bones records came from the Freestyle/Latin Hip Hop scene, and much of mid eighties stuff coming out of New York by producers such as Tee Scott were an extension of the electronic stuff being played at the Paradise Garage. These were all very different scenes that had no real relation to early stuff coming out of Chicago (other than the fact they tended to have faster Bpm’s). And this isn’t even taking into account those purely European tracks by bands like Finitribe (which would later be classified under the Balearic banner).

    So I suppose the point I’m trying to make here is that is that the more adventurous clubs across the UK (and Europe for that matter) hooked into all of this exciting electronic dance/club music around the same time. I can only speak for myself here but being a teenager at the time in London I seeked out clubs as far removed from the ‘Soul Mafia’ ones as I could find; and it was these very same clubs that firstly embraced Electro/Rap/Hip Hop, and then other electronic dance music (whatever it’s musical roots). It’s interesting that the stranglehold that the ‘Soul Mafia’ had through the late seventies, early eighties was finally loosened with this explosion of electronic dance music through the eighties and I for one was ecstatic about their waning powers. The Rare Groove warehouse scene (Norman J etc) was just as far removed from the many tentacled arms of the ‘Soul Mafia’ too and just as appealing to a London teenager for that very reason.

  13. Jonathan Moore July 24, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Here’s a link to a great chart that explores the influential black music clubs in the south from the seventies through to the nineties:


    The only real link from the ‘Soul Mafia’ era to the House era are the DJ’s that were part of the parties that Nicky Holloway used to put on in the early eighties (Pete Tong, Danny Rampling & Johnny Walker if memory serves right).

    It would be great to see something similar for other parts of the county too.

  14. SammyString July 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    Thank you for a great article, very inspiring and informative. Filling me in on a large part of my culture I never knew about.
    I just wanted to comment on your closing paragraph about people dancing together, with each other, not necessarily all facing the same direction. As a dancer and a fellow House Music DJ I agree fully with this. Music and dancing are forms of individual expression and people seem to forget this. They are also communal activitities and better experienced with a group of friends. I love it when I see people dancing with each other and when I am in the crowd this is what I do, turning, smiling and grooving with all those around me.
    You are right when you say, thats what it’s all about.

  15. Yogi Haughton July 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Thanks for the props Roual and Greg. My ear is still stuck to the dance floor and if I wasn’t so damn busy I would get involved in the conversation as I always have an opinion lol However I am enjoying watching the sparring & will get involved on the page soon. Cheers “the one the only” Yogi Haughton lol Did I mention The Scottish Soulful Weekender? lol

  16. An Amateur Anthropologist August 3, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    This is a fascinating, and in some respects well-researched article. However, I do not agree with its central hypothesis.

    Your hypothesis is twofold. Firstly, you argue that house music in the UK has its roots within black music scenes in the North of England (“Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leeds and, of course, Manchester”) of the early to mid 1980s. You then go on to evidence this fully, citing Colin Curtis, Hewan Clarke, Mike Pickering and Stu Allan as DJs playing house music in the mid-1980s. This is all really interesting, and you really put “flesh on the bones” of this narrative.

    Secondly, you argue that these “roots have never been fully acknowledged”, and that the conventional narrative is that “Ibiza ’87 was year zero, as this is how the story has, and continues to be told”. You state that “The Ibiza story” overrides “everything that had gone before”, and that this is “a whitewashing of black culture in this country”. Part of your argument here is very specific, that house music is under-represented in narratives about The Haçienda in the mid-1980s “previously […] regarded as an alternative / indie stronghold”. This part of your hypothesis is presented almost entirely without evidence – you only cite Dorian Lynskey as a sole example.

    So, let’s dig some books off the shelf, to see if they do, indeed, present “Ibiza ’87 as year zero” and The Haçienda as a “alternative/indie” stronghold in the mid-1980s.

    Let’s take The Haçienda to start with. There’s two book-length publications covering this club, the first is “The Hacienda Must Be Built”, published in 1992, and close to an “official history” of the club. This book states that house music was played at The Haçienda in the mid-1980s, by Hewan Clarke, yourself, Little Martin and then Mike Pickering. There are also plenty of references to other forms of black music. There is certainly no view that The Hacienda was a “indie stronghold”. The other book-length narrative on The Haçienda is Peter Hook’s “The Haçienda How Not to Run a Club”, which clearly states that “the Haçienda’s first resident wasn’t spinning Joy Division, New Order and the Smiths […] he was playing Sugarhill, Roy Ayers, Gil Scott Heron and Herbie Hancock”. Even in 1982, we have Tony Wilson saying “black music [is] going to be the next commercial dance music”. So there’s no ‘whitewash’ in this book either, black music is seen as absolutely central to the Haçienda almost as soon as it opened.

    Moving away from The Hacienda, let’s look at some other books, pulled randomly from the book shelf!

    “Energy Flash” by Simone Reynolds is a history of rave culture, and cites house music as seeming like a “fad that had been and gone” in early 1987! In the chapter on Manchester, it states that “house was played as early as 1986 on local station Piccadilly Radio by Stu Allen” and that Mike Pickering and Martin Prendergast played it at The Haçienda.

    “DJ Culture” by Ulf Poschardt. A german book whose central hypothesis is similar to yours “the history of dancefloor music has its roots in the subcultures of oppressed minorities, particularly those of the gays and blacks”.

    Matthew Collin “Altered State”. Discusses the importance of early house chart hits in late 1986 and early 1987, and repeats the oft-told story of Mike Pickering travelling to London in 1987 with Chicago Trax records and being asked to stop playing “homo shit music”. Sure, Ibiza is seen as central in this narrative, but this book is as much about Ecstasy as it is about music.

    Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”. Again, we have Hewan Clark (sic) playing “a mix of black funk, soul and disco” in 1982, and “by 1986, the Haçienda’s Nude might – having started two years earlier – had switched to a playlist heavily weighted with Chicago house”.

    “The Is Our House” by Hillegonda Rietveld. No Ibiza year zero here. “From around 1985, Chicago house music was available on import”, Mark Moore playing house music in Mud Club in 1986 to “the home boy crowd”, and The Haçienda having a “predominantly ‘working class’ and ‘black’ crowd” dancing to Pickering and Prendergast from 1985 to 1987.

    I’m struggling to find a book that presents an “Ibiza story” that overrides “everything that had gone before”.

    And what about magazines? iD and The Face both covered house music in September 1986. Even the NME was in on the act, stating in December 1987 that “within the next few months Britain’s independent dance industry is going to start reaping the rewards of almost two year’s nationwide House building, as the young House addicts — who’ve crawled out of the woodwork in every town — make their first move in the vinyl marketplace”.

    So what is my view? My view is similar to yours, that there is a conventional narrative of house music. For me though, this conventional mainstream narrative is the one you recite, that the influence of black music is under-represented in (what I view as largely mythical) earlier narratives of house music. “The hidden history of house music in black youth culture” is an ideological construct, and to me does not actually bear much relation to actual histories of house music.

    If anything, I would say that it is precisely the other way around. There is a hidden history of house and techno in the UK (especially house and techno made in the UK), and that is the influence of musical forms not traditionally seen as black (indie, Hi-NRG, Belgian New Beat).

    With the deepest of respect, from an amateur anthropologist.

  17. Greg Wilson August 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Hi An Amateur Anthropologist: It’s all a case of emphasis. Yes, you can go to individual books and find instances of what I’ve been talking about, to a greater or lesser degree, but there’s no depth applied to this part of the history – that’s my contention. I don’t say it’s not there, what I’m saying is that it isn’t there to anything like the extent it should be.

    I’ve read most of the books you mention, and have a lot of respect for much of the writing, it’s just that I feel the period post-Disco and leading up to the Rave era is majorly under-represented. I know some of the authors personally, and they’re aware of my views on the subject. Whether they agree or disagree with me is totally their own prerogative – we all come at it from our different angles. Some may think that what I’m saying isn’t as important as I’m suggesting it is, but others may perhaps re-assess what they’ve written and agree that they may have overlooked something crucial to a fuller understanding of why things worked out the way they did.

    With ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’ for example, which is a wonderful overview of the history of the DJ, after I’d first read it, around 10 years ago, I contacted Bill, congratulating him on the book, but also saying that I felt it had missed the relevance of the black scene in the decade or so leading up to the House big bang. To Bill’s credit he told me that the book had a number of ‘blind spots’ that he and Frank planned to iron out in subsequent editions. When the ‘Centenary Edition’ was published in 2007, there was indeed more information included about the black scene, but, although on the one hand I obviously welcomed this, I still think it could have gone much further. From my perspective this is clearly more important than from Bill and Frank’s – I consider it central, whilst they see it as more subsidiary, it’s that difference of emphasis again, but this is Bill and Frank’s take on things, not my own, and I have a lot of admiration for them as writers on DJ culture.

    ‘Altered State’ by Matthew Collin is, as you state, more specific to Ecstasy / Acid House, but there was a small part in there when I felt he had the opportunity to open up the connection with the black scene (and perhaps why, as mentioned by a few people in the comments section, as well as the piece itself, that the black audience didn’t embrace Ecstasy at the point it became a key component, in effect causing something of a schism on the existing scene). He mentioned Hewan Clarke, his connection back to the Jazz-Funk days, and how there was a ‘thriving black underground’ in a city celebrated for its indie tradition, mentioning a few of the clubs, and the fact they championed Electro, Hip Hop and House. But it stopped there, and the thread was lost, no sooner had it begun. He touches on a few of the things I mention, but doesn’t go into any of the detail. Likewise with ‘Energy Flash’ by Simon Reynolds. He begins his chapter on Manchester, ’24 Hour Party People’ with 2 quotes, both from members of the Stone Roses – Ian Brown says ‘ the black kids always had something going, ’89 was the year the white kids woke up’, whilst Mani adds ‘Whitey could dance, with a pill in him’. Although both are clearly alluding to the fact that this was a black led movement, at least in its earlier stages, this isn’t embellished upon within the chapter. The fact that neither of these books mention Colin Curtis tells me that their focus isn’t on the evolution via the black scene.

    I don’t have a copy of ‘The Hacienda Must Be Built’, but if it includes me as someone who played House there it’s out by a couple of years – I stopped working at the club in December ’83. I’ve never read Gonnie’s book, but she was someone who was there at the time, so I’d expect a fair degree of insight into the contribution of the black kids. Of all the books you mention, the one that I feel pays most attention to the role of the black scene in the emergence of The Hacienda was the most recent one, Peter Hook’s ‘The Hacienda – How Not To Run A Club’, from a couple of years back. I blogged about it here:

    I’ve derived a lot of understanding from those books, and would highly recommend people read them all if they’re serious about studying dance culture in this country in all its complexity, but I can also see what’s not there (or what’s only there in passing), and that’s the bit I’m trying to highlight more – whereby others may think a few lines, or a few sentences is suffice to cover something as multi-faceted as the black scene, I think it’s deserving of chapters. As I say, it’s the difference in perspective – it’s where we place the importance individually.

    To clarify what I said in the piece, at first it felt that there was something of a ‘whitewashing’ taking place, but I later came to realise that it wasn’t so much that, but that some of the writers had simply not been properly aware of what was happening on the black scene themselves, because they had no real personal experience of that whole sub-culture – they didn’t live and breathe it like I did.

    Of course I’m aware that dance music was being played at The Hacienda in its earlier pre-House years, I was brought into the club myself in 1983 to host a specialist dance night. I’m not sure how you could define part of my argument as ‘house music is under-represented in narratives about The Hacienda in the mid-1980s’. I think the role of House music in club is well represented, and all my writing would reflect this. My argument is that ‘black culture is under-represented in narratives about The Hacienda in the mid-1980s’.

    There’s plenty of information out there about The Hacienda, but precious little about clubs like The Playpen / Legend / The Gallery in Manchester, Jive Turkey in Sheffield, Rock City / The Garage in Nottingham, the Powerhouse All-Dayers in Birmingham etc. and what connected them all together, providing an underground dance network that covered a wide geographical radius, and would eventually plug into what was happening at The Hacienda. This was a long-established specialist scene, which had flourished over many years, and into which this new Chicago music was naturally absorbed. What’s difficult to put over to people who weren’t a part of it is the sheer scale and inter-connectivity (via the All-Dayer circuit) of the scene.

    The Hacienda wasn’t part of this scene, but it was very much a beneficiary – it could never have become the club it became without enticing / embracing the black crowd. It certainly wasn’t regarded as a black / dance music club when I was there in ’83 (30 years ago to this month – I’ll post something on the subject around the anniversary) – their crowd was mainly made up of students and indie fans, many who were downright hostile to dance music. Rob, Tony and Mike had seen what was going on in New York, especially Danceteria, which was the venue they talked about the most, and to their eternal credit they never lost sight of this vision, even in the early years when it seemed they were putting square pegs into round holes – my night included. The glory of The Hacienda is what led up to its success, how those guys kept believing through those difficult early years, before everything fell into alignment and the whole thing exploded.

    A lot of what you’re saying about The Hacienda in your comment seems to be exactly what I’m saying myself, I can’t see where we differ, but I should clarify that playing black music in a club didn’t make it a part of the circuit of clubs and All-Dayers I’m talking about. Hewan Clarke, the original Hacienda resident might have played Sugarhill, Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers etc. but he was also playing anything from Stray Cats to Bauhaus to Blancmange on the same night, which he readily states himself. What was happening at The Hacienda to what was happening in the black clubs was a world apart (until the black kids eventually started regularly attending the club in numbers themselves, during the mid-80’s).

    I believe that black culture is seriously under-documented in this country, and this is just another example. You might feel that the black scene has enough representation as it is with regards to the evolution of House in this country, and you are, of course, entitled to that opinion, but my hope is that more people will come forward to share their impressions of these times, adding to the growing tapestry of information that’s out there to draw from. This, I feel, only enriches the overall story.

  18. Skintologist August 13, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    On a sidetrack, I remember there was a big trend in fashion (I’m talking soulboy shops up the Roman Road|) mid eighties towards paisley and psychedelica, it didn’t take off for another 4-5 years ,there must have been people with warehouses full of clothes who were soooo grateful that the whole acieed thing took off before the moths got their merch!
    Also I have to agree with the people here emphasising eclecticism over tribalism in those times,
    but i would seeing as i played funky drums on speed at the hacienda before house was invented, anyone want to buy an offcutof the flooring i nicked from back stage and used as a gong later?
    These days I’m all about the analogue, old age steppers anyone:

  19. Anthony August 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Dear Greg and all concerned.

    I write to you with deep concern about your article ‘How house music really started’ and the issue of the Black guys ‘foot shuffling’.

    I was lying in bed last night, with my laptop, and I thought I would have a look what you have been saying lately ( a blog which I always enjoy reading).

    Yes the black guys may have been the first people to start the Acid house scene of in some areas of the country. But from my knowledge and experience every body that got into Acid house did so because it what was happening at that time. A fashion maybe. And the people that are still around from that era are the DJ’s and producer’s, not many of the early ravers followed ‘House music’ as it was to be known post 1990.

    I missed out on the Blackburn raves because I was still in my 5th year. But from leaving school I followed the music, attending some of the rave clubs in Blackpool (sequins) and Blackburn (Monroes) all hands in the air stuff. I was later introduced to Graeme parks Hacienda in 1992, and then onto Back to Basics, Hard times and I spent the last 15 years at Southport Weekender or frequenting the Electric Chair once or twice a year over a period of 10 years.

    To my knowledge, hardly any Black guys were part of this scene. This was 95% white working class kids who had found some direction and an escapism from the negativity that had dogged their lives in the early years of growing up on the streets in the 80’s and early 90’s.

    We all know where House music started, because every House music fan would have read Bill Brewster’s book about Chicago and New York. And one of the discussions has been why don’t Black guys, or as many as white guys follow this music. Especially when you see a Black room at Southport weekender, playing some good soul, but some aggressive style music also which doesn’t fit with House music ethos. Not many Black guys did go in the Power House.

    The black guys who do follow House, are like any other fan of the space and music. they interact and make a difference to the moment i.e. shaking hands, patting on the back, asking your name, and dancing with you as opposed to this ‘feet shuffling’.

    I am one person who has saw this ‘feet shuffling’ going on and it is from guys who have an attitude. This was a continual annoyance at Southport weekender. Because you would be dancing, having a magic moment, and then these guy’s would just bang into you on purpose, they would dance in your space, and not in a nice inclusive way. You could feel the cold vibes from them, and this happened all the time, it was so rude and I would even call it bullying because they always did it when they where in gangs or to people smaller than them.

    I am 5’5 and I felt lots of attitude at Southport weekender, and this was always when I went in the funk base or walking to and from the venue or when the Black guys had their chalet parties. This was a no go environment for white House music fans.

    I even saw Black guys go up to girls when they were with their boyfriends, intimidating them, and one of my friends had a lit cigarette put in his back pocket when walking through the funk base. What was this about?

    To be honest at the last Southport in pontins in May 2010 we felt the worst acts of attitude in all of our 15 years of attendance. We said we would never go back. And after the Sunday after party, one of my mates witnessed one of the organiser’s (not mentioning for legal reasons) with his shirt ripped off his back, blood on his face, he had just been beaten up. In that after party, me and my mates all felt, the knocks, and the ‘feet shuffling. So who beat up the Organiser? Not someone on MDMA that is for sure.

    I then went to Minehead in 2011, and with the extra 1500 places taken, we all felt more attitude and intimidation than ever before. Black guys getting really boisterous and loud when they could, and I even got threatened by 5 black guys spanking windows of our block. From that moment, I have never felt such intimidation or aggression since I was a youngster on my council estate growing up as a lost soul.

    To be honest Greg, these guys are not House music fans. House music fans are those that sought a life of peace, escapism and to bond with people with the same values, and ambitions.

    The black guys I have met in the power house, or where ever I have partied have always been sound. They don’t ‘foot shuffle’. They dance with you, and they take MDMA.

    ‘Foot shufflers, are out for Trouble’.

    This has nothing to do with White’s getting pissed off that Blacks are into House music. Because they are not. How many Black guys where at the Scottish Soul Weekender? NONE

    This is something I feel strongly about, because no-one likes bullies.

    I am someone who has been on the dance floor for the last 23 years.

    Anthony McDonald

  20. Anthony September 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Dear Greg

    I noticed you have been posting but you have not bothered to comment or reply to my concern regarding this ‘feet shuffling’.

    To be honest Greg I actually don’t think you know what has happened over the last 20 years or you would not have wrote that article. As it stands, I only read the first part of the article because it really hit a nerve when you condemned the ‘foot shuffling’ critiques as not understanding how ‘House music’ was created. And the claim that because some of these black guys ancestors were about in the early rave scene and that ‘House music’ came from the black communities that somehow they have a legitimate claim to take over the dance floor and act in an anti-social and even aggressive, confrontational way.

    I have now read the second part of the article and it actually gets worse. Because it is so biased, and based on a romantic idea, influenced by your romantic past.

    You talk about how the scene was taken over when the ecstasy was introduced, and then everyone started dancing in this bobbing up and down on the spot style. As if it is not as credible as the black style of dancing you experienced in your early years of DJ ing.

    OK, let’s get this strait ‘White men can’t jump’, and ‘White men can’t dance’ either. I am sorry we can’t dance in this communal way, or as cool as some of the black guys. But what you need to recognise is, since 1990 when the introduction of ‘American House’ become the dominant music for the kids who had been inspired by ‘Acid house’. This was a white working class environment, and it was the kids from, Manchester, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leeds’ right up to the North east and to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and no doubt the white working classes of the South, that have been the driving force that made ‘House music’ as we know it.

    It was the passion and the dedication of the record collectors, and the kids who would cue up every Saturday night to get into the likes of Back to Basics and Hard times that actually helped the Frankie Knuckles and Tony Humphries of this world to make a career out of DJ ing and producing.

    And it is the dedication of the white working classes that have provided you with the stage you have now. You actually came along at the right time, because many of us are now in our 40’s and we have embraced your new style of soulful, disco, electro funk.

    Over the last 20 years the main place for mature ‘House music’ fans was the power house at Southport weekender. I would argue this was a 95 % white working – middle class environment. I would argue that it was Southport weekender, and it’s power house that really was the driving force under-pinned the success story which has been the last 20 years.

    So you for you to come out and write an article about ‘how house music really started’ and ‘stick up for this feet shuffling’ was a little ignorant. Because it has dismissed the contribution of the white working class kids, which could be argued where the people really made ‘House music’ so special.

    To be honest Greg, I am not bothered what colour someone is or their religion or their accent. If they are rude and not making a positive contribution to the moment then they don’t deserve to be in the same environment as some of the genuine, and inspirational people that make up the ‘House music’ crowd.

    To be honest, I am not bothered how someone dances, or whether they are a good dancer. If they are having a good time and making a positive contribution they they can dance as they please.

    To be honest Greg, I am not bothered who played the first ‘Acid house’ track or who had the first party. Although a lot of your work is very informative and educational. I think you have not realized that your article is quite disrespectful to your white working class following.

    E.g ‘Whilst I understand the appeal of the communal experience, and the sense of belonging that can go with it, I don’t think that this should be at the expense of individual expression, especially now, at a time when, to vast swathes of clubbers, community has been reduced to bobbing up and down on the spot, facing the same way as everyone else (towards the DJ), with a fist pumping high, or worse still, a mobile phone raised aloft. Speaking for myself, there’s nothing I like to see more than a dancefloor where people are facing each other, not me, whilst grooving away to the tunes I play as they give it up and get down, immersing themselves in the moment by losing themselves in the music’.

    Are you a good dancer?

    What you need to understand Greg is: A lot of the white working classes, are repressed! The weather in the country is dull, grey, wet, and this can have a wearing down affect on people. They work in boring UN-rewarding jobs, for low pay, and can’t afford to live the life they would hope for, and a some may never full fill their dreams.

    The country is in a mess, we are seeing record levels of ant- social behaviour and violence. Town and city centres have been no-go areas for decent ‘House music’ fans for years. The majority of the Southport Weekender people, would stay in for months on end, and wait for their 2 biggest weekends of the year rather than waste their money on anything else.

    So these people deserve better, and they don’t need to be told how to dance, or they should put up with anti-social behaviour in ‘House music’ environments. The individual should not be more important than the group. And if we want to take MDMA and jump up and down, and take pictures of our favourite DJ’s when we are enjoying oursleves then so be it.

    I think you may have Tim Westwood sunglasses on Greg because you certainly are not seeing the true picture here. And I don’t mean to sound sarcastic.

    I am one of your biggest fans, I have about 30 mixes on my ipod, and I went to see you are the Big Chill, the Garden festival and I contacted you back in 2007, which you then kindly posted some CD’s and write up’s about your past.

    You were part of my childhood growing up on a council estate walking about playing Electro UK on my ghetto blaster. I didn’t know you were behind that production, because it was only a tape, and I was only 12. But I do think your article is trying to paint a picture that, maybe you hope would be real, when it is not, it could not be further from reality. In many ways it is a little hurtful because you have seemed to reject the contribution of the white working classes who I would strongly argue are ‘House music’.

    I am currently in the middle of writing about the last 25 years, where I hope to get some points across. Hopefully you will read it and then make your own mind up. But a stain on the success that has been ‘House music’ is this attitude and from the so called ‘foot shufflers’.

    I have a friend who lives in London and she reported that club nights like Soul Heaven and Plan B, as far back as 2007-2008 became packed out with gangs’ who would do this ‘foot shuffling’ and she felt it quite intimidated and even a dangerous environment to be in. And to her credit, she doesn’t go out in London any more. She was on of those girls who committed herself to Southport weekender because it was so much of a safe environment. But even here, as I have reported in my reply last week, there were some real arseholes turning up, not House music fans, and by the sounds of it Minehead with the extra places has now provided them with a stage to be anti-social.

    This issue brought one honest Guy to write this message on the Southport Weekender facebook fan page. This is very commendable…

    ‘Just to say – those of you that know me know I don’t work for SP and started this group totally independently for the love of the weekender, so to those who messaged me, tbh I’ve no intention of chiming in on these discussions because I actually see both sides of the coin here. Not only that, but I respect Dave and Alex hugely for the work they have to go through every time to create this event.

    I’ve voiced my opinions (and they are just that, MY opinions) on chalet parties, and the way the shift in the demographic of those who follow ‘house music’ (and I use that term loosely) which has led to more bad apples creeping in, and on the location change.
    Also, for the record, I’m a London boy, born and bred, and there are plenty of ‘down south’ folk who know what’s what, but I’m aware there are quite a few who bring their big town attitude with them when they travel, sorry but there are pricks in every town, and the bigger the town, the more there are!

    People are treating SP like it is just another weekend on the lash, those are people who have no idea what SP is about, and THAT is why some people are harping on about the ‘old days’ because you could be a virgin back then and the vibe would be maintained.

    At the end of the day, I look at it like this, the SP massive for forever was always on a “bring like-minded people” tip. If you were coming SP, you put a filter on your friends for who you would bring, I know I did, because it has always been about maintaining the good vibes. So, if you are a SPer who plans SP, or is in a crew that comes, and you aren’t bringing people who can be fucking civil… and don’t front like you don’t know exactly what I mean when you think about the people you roll with… look at yourself, you dun know it doesn’t require anyone else to say it’.

    I hope my points have been raised because this is an issue that has been bugging me for the last 18 months. I am just glad that Dan Paul could see what I was seeing. Hopefully now you can Greg.

    I have huge respect for Alex and Dave from Southport Weekender, and everyone who has made a positive contribution to the scene over the years. And that goes to all the cool dancers’, who have respect for other peoples space (what ever the colour of your skin or accent you have) .

    God bless you for making my life so special.

  21. Greg Wilson September 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Hi Anthony: Apologies that I couldn’t get back to you earlier – things have been pretty hectic since you made your first post last Thurs and it’s only now that I’m able to reply.

    With regards to the Southport Weekender, I can’t really comment myself, it’d need someone who works on the event. What’s interesting is that, going by your post, there are obviously tensions with regards to foot shuffling at the Weekender, which concurs with what I said in the first paragraph of the piece, where I mention that it wasn’t as clean cut as a white / black issue, but also has a generational dynamic. I also mention the perceived ‘moodiness’ with regards to the attitude of the shufflers, which you certainly highlight in your posts. Other people involved in the current House scene have said there is no problem with shuffling, and that the whole thing had been blown out of proportion, but your posts, and the passionate feelings you express, point to an ongoing situation.

    The only personal opinion I express on the subject is that I believe the communal experience shouldn’t be at the expense of individual expression – there should be room for both. Also, call me old school, but I prefer the idea of people dancing facing each other, rather than facing the DJ, especially when it’s with a camera phone in hand. In an ideal world I’d be more than happy if nobody was watching what I was doing, but lost in the music, which isn’t possible if their focus is on what the DJ is up to. That said, if people who’ve bought their tickets want to spend their time facing the DJ, phone in their hand or not, that’s their prerogative – I just don’t feel they’re getting the most out of the night by doing this.

    As far as I’m aware, the stood on the spot hands in the air style of dancing developed out of necessity, with dancefloor space at a premium and everyone packed together – there was no longer room for the type the footwork associated with the black dancers. As you feel the shufflers are encroaching on your space nowadays, the black dancers (and their white counterparts who adapted a similar style) would have felt that their space had been encroached upon once Acid House blew up in the late 80’s.

    I completely agree that it has been a majority white audience supporting House music in this country since those times, but that wasn’t the story I was writing – my focus was on how largely black dancers in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds etc. had helped pioneer the scene in the North and Midlands prior to the introduction of Ecstasy in the latter part of the 80’s.

    It’s not that I’m anti-white in my viewpoint, but pro-black in my efforts to highlight what I believe to be their significant contribution to the movement in its formative years. I clearly have huge respect for the black kids who made the underground dance scene such a vibrant arena before the music crossed over to a more mainstream audience, which was majority white.

    I echo your acclaim of the white working class – their dedication to black music, from the 60’s Mod era onwards, has shaped the British musical identity. Without their fanatical support of the music, right through to Acid House and beyond, popular culture in this country would be very different. However, whilst you can find book upon book about this contribution, apart from Snowboy’s ‘From Jazz-Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz: The History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene’, there is pretty much no focused documentation of the contribution of the black British community to our rich clubbing heritage (there’s also a new book just released, ‘Sounds Like London’, by ‘Bass Culture’ author, Lloyd Bradley, which I’m currently reading, about the history of black music in London, spanning almost 100 years – such a book, in my opinion, is long overdue, and will add greatly to our understanding of what makes the British music scene so unique).

    By highlighting the role played by black dancers, this shouldn’t be taken as a slur on the largely white audience who’ve kept the House flame burning for the past quarter of a century. What I’ve found disappointing is that rather than giving props to these kids for being so quick off the mark in their support of Chicago House, some people are still choosing to ignore the evidence before their eyes, instead falling in line behind regional / racial divides.

    You’re clearly fervent about the music you love, but it’s totally wrong to suggest that I reject the contribution of people like yourself, the ‘white working classes’ as you describe them. This is my own background, and you’ll find, in plenty of other examples of my writing, that I fully recognise the key role played by this sector of society, and continue to play, in making Britain’s music and club culture such fertile ground.

    Finally, to answer your question, my dancing has always left a lot to be desired 🙂

  22. Martin Prendergast September 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article Greg, and some brilliant follow up comments too!

    Martin Prendergast here – aka Little Martin, half of MP2 (Mike P & Martin P!). To be absolutely fair, I was more of Mike’s understudy and learned a LOT from him, but injected my opinion, taste & enthusiasm into the playlist also. As Mike was traveling & focusing more on T-Coy, I also found myself regularly flying solo towards the end of 87 and first half of 88. Thanks Adrian for trying to give me credit for introducing House to the Hacienda, and it would be cool to say that I did, but that wouldn’t be true 🙂

    I was only just turned on to this article, so it partly feels like I am showing up late to a party where everyone’s already crashed out on the settee and the tv is still on playing snow, but because of my role in the early days I may still have something of value to contribute here.

    First of all, does any of this really matter? I still DJ & am involved with a company that produces “EDM shows” in the U.S. To most of the new generation I either play for or work towards producing shows for, this music began with Deadmau5’s Faxing Berlin in the mid-noughties ha ha. I try and tell them about Chicago and they have zero interest in that, never mind Moss Side! Of course there are those that follow Resident Advisor (or Greg!) and the like, that do have an interest in digging. For those, and for those to come, it IS important to get it right and not take as Gospel books written by those that were never there. Perfect example is the previously mentioned Last Night A DJ book (#1 book on Dance Music in the Amazon U.S. store in case you are wondering whether anyone reads it or not). When I first got a copy I was amazed at the detail and amount or research that seemed to have gone into the book, UNTIL I got to the the bit I had firsthand knowledge of. Disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. I know there is an updated version but can’t comment on what was updated or changed as I’ve yet to see it. Also, it has not been published in the U.S. as far as I am aware.

    Another way of looking at this is to compare it to Elvis Presley & Sun Records & “That’s Alright”. A “starting point” in a musical movement that has had a remarkable shelf life. Now there are those I’m sure more knowledgeable than I (on the birth of Rock & Roll) that may be able to argue it began before that, but as far as I know the Rock & Roll revolution began when this white guy made a “Black” record. It has been well documented and most would agree it is a very important moment in time, and therefore important to get the details & facts straight.

    Here’s how it went down for me. Mike asked me to join him in the box after Andrew Berry left, some time in 86. I don’t know the exact date but it lists an MP2 Nude Night on May 2nd 86 in the excellent aforementioned Jon Savage book “The Hacienda Must Be Built”. Music was all over the place tempo wise. Stuff like Dhar Braxton, Cultural Vibe, Rene & Angela. J.M. Silk was definitely in the box at this point, and there might well have been one or two other Chicago records in there too, but they definitely did not stand out (to my ears at least) as being different to many other uptempo R&B based club tunes of the time. Crowd was definitely mixed at this point also, but I would still say majority white. The black crowd preferred the balcony and behind the booth I recall. The average attendance for Fridays the entire time I was there from early 86 to June 88 was 900 to 1000. This was in a club that could hold 1500. So plenty to look at, plenty of room to explore and plenty of room to dance. I do not ever recall an attendance of 500, unless it fell on some weird day (like the day after New Year’s) or the week after one particular stabbing incident (more on that later).

    As I mentioned, I was mostly learning from Mike early on. I had been hanging out on Fridays for close to a year before being asked to join him so knew the established playlist & vibe pretty well. The one thing I wasn’t feeling was that he would occasionally play a Northern Soul or James Brown track. Maybe 2 or 3 tops per night. I was 18 in 85 when I started playing at the Hac, so Northern Soul meant nothing to me & my mates. We were wearing short shorts and collecting Panini stickers when that all-nighter stuff was happening. A couple of years earlier back in Chorlton, we would have the deck primed: play, record & pause at the ready waiting for Greg’s mixes to come on 🙂 Anyways I didn’t feel that those Northern classics fit in, and I also felt the black crowd wasn’t into it either. As we were playing Black music I felt it important to seek validation from the Black crowd. If they weren’t feeling it, we weren’t doing it right! I don’t believe I ever said to Mike “you need to stop playing these old tracks”, but I would have suggested alternative cuts. It would be really stupid to claim now though that the black crowd flooded in because they stopped playing There’s A Ghost In My House on Fridays, but the crowd did shift and I mention it because it may have been a factor rather than to blow my own horn. It could also have been because a new generation weened on the wonderful and, it can not be overstated, massively influential Piccadilly Radio were now old enough to go into town. The Hacienda also had a notoriously easy going door policy. A gang of 4 or 5 black lads showing up to a club in town on a weekend night were not going to get in, but Hacienda no problem. The Hac door staff also had an extremely tolerant view of spliff rolling. If they saw you they might tell you to put it away but I don’t recall anyone being thrown out. Other clubs they would throw you out & land a few kicks & jabs too. I’m sure this reputation didn’t hurt. It didn’t happen overnight but the crowd did change from a mixed to more of a street crowd. By mixed I mean gay hairdressers, straight hairdressers, dreads, fashion victims & the more clued up & adventurous scallies. It was actually a great mix! Over time it changed to more scallies and more of the black crowd. Maybe 50/50? It was still a great racial mix but I know some people stopped going because they looked down on that crowd or felt intimidated. There were hardly any problems but there was a stabbing inside the club one Friday after Paul Mason had taken over and he wanted the night shut down. If memory serves, there may have been another violent incident the week before or perhaps it was one of the door guys that was stabbed? I don’t remember the exact details now, but I do recall that it wasn’t looking good for Nude Night. I wasn’t party to any discussions on it but I’m sure Mike would have stood up and Fridays soldiered on. How might things have been different had Fridays stopped? This was either late 86 or some point in 87 I would say. It would certainly have taken the Hac out of what was to come next. Would it have made any difference? If, as has been suggested here in the comments, perhaps not? Certainly no Indie Dance or Madchester for sure though.

    Anyways…we have this wonderful soundtrack going on Fridays 1986, probably 90% of which are still certified club classics to this day. A knock on the door and a black man, not a kid as I recall, asks us to check out a couple of 12 inches he has brought and to play them if we like them. One was Adonis No Way Back and the other was Farley Jackmaster Funk Love Can’t Turn Around (it was on the wonderfully named “House Records” and had a plain red sleeve). I don’t recall if we listened to the vocal and dismissed it but I do know we play the Dub Can’t Turn Around on the flip. The low trombone/horn stab sounded incredible in the Hacienda, and not much sounded incredible there ha ha. It sounded like nothing else I had ever heard. I didn’t realize at that moment but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say my life changed forever that night. Not to dismiss Adonis as these twelves were both from another planet as far as I was concerned, but I think it was Farley that hooked me first. Funny thing is that I still play Adonis to this day and very little else from that early Chicago period. Timeless. When he came back at the end of the night, he either let us hold on to them or said he would bring back the next week. I know we were down at Spin Inn looking for more copies or more just like them though as soon as we could get there. I asked Mike about him a few years later and he said he had run into him again a couple of years later. Maybe someone on here knows him or his name? I would love to know it, but thank him for me please.

    Now we did all our record shopping at Spin Inn, aside from Mike’s trips to NY, so had he not introduced us I suppose it may have been a matter of time before we found them ourselves. Spin Inn usually set aside a stack they felt we would be into though, no point including a bunch of smooth street soul if we never played or bought that for example, so who knows?

    So as to validate Greg’s point that it was the black community on to House in the beginning IN MANCHESTER, it certainly seems that way then you consider how we were introduced to it and watch the Moss Side video from 86. Another important point to consider is that there actually was quite a bit of resistance to the House sound even in Manchester and the Hacienda in the beginning. I preached the Gospel of House to anyone that would listen, which is why Adrian Luvdup might be forgiven for thinking I introduced it. I was obsessed. Mike too. But it was far from everyone’s cup of tea. We were mostly into the sparse dubs rather than the vocals (not always, but most of the big tracks, Sweet D, Kenny Jammin Jason etc. had no vocals at all), so I suppose it all sounded the same to some. The people we saw that were into though were the black kids, Foot Patrol, Fusion Beats etc. And they were into some of the “weirder” stuff (at the time!), Nude Photo & The Dance, Original Video Clash – stuff like that. The Marshall Jefferson On The House vocal stuff was massive of course, but the dancers would really move to the oddball tracks. I actually knew Carl Stewart of Fusion Beats from school, so it was great to run into him a couple of years later and both be so excited about the same thing. T-Coy included these dancers in the vid, not only because they were brilliant to watch (which they were!) but because these were the people showing up week in week out to dance on Fridays.

    To summarize, without a doubt the black crowd played a pivotal role in the early days of House in Manchester in my opinion. House was the upfront music of the period and this crowd was always about the freshest, hottest tunes. I pretty much only hung out at the Hacienda during this time, so did not hear Colin Curtis, Mike Shaft, Hewan etc. but it would stupid (and a lie) to suggest the Hacienda was the only place to hear House in Manchester at the time. What made the Hacienda different though was that it was a fairly massive, darling of the southern press, cutting edge venue, playing a fully established 80% House format on a prime weekend night by 1987. I’m unaware of another similar venue in the country matching that criteria at the time, absolutely no disrespect intended. 87 was also the year Acid House blew up, providing Hac anthems like Bam Bam Give It To Me etc. (the harder Phuture stuff was never played prime time by the way). By early 88 the “Acid” drugs were trickling in (even though the music had moved on to Joe Smooth & Todd Terry). By mid 88 it was full on you know the rest.

    Without the shoom crew excursion, none of this would ever have happened no doubt at all. Either way, House was firmly established in Manchester by this time and I think would have kept going for a while either way. The question I have though is would things have been different had the Hacienda never existed or had House never found a home there? Would the clubs of the South or elsewhere have been enough to host or detonate the massive explosion that was about to take place? Did Rave/UK Dance Music/Smiley Culture even need the Hacienda or Manchester or was it going to happen regardless? If the answer is that it couldn’t of happened without Manc/Hac participation then the role of Black Manchester deserves to be emphasized as Greg suggests.

    One more thing!

    Looking back I think the North/South divide myth was either partly or wholly created by London based media. I do remember going to The Wag, in 87 I believe and hearing some House there. Not nearly as much as we would play, but it certainly wasn’t all I Believe In Miracles! And that was just one club in a massive city, never mind what people may have been listening to outside of clubs.

    Shout out also to Stu Allan & Spin Inn who, although mentioned a few times, need to be recognized for playing a massive massive massive role!

  23. Martin Prendergast September 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Forgot to mention, when I just dug up the Jon Savage book for timeline help I came across an interview with Hewan.

    He’s asked “Were you still working the Hacienda when the House thing started?” and replies “No, I’d gone by then”.

    I’ll always give credit where credits due, and have the utmost respect for the legend Hewan Clarke, but I don’t believe he played House in his time at Hac. Maybe the odd track he forgot about?

  24. ANIFF AKINOLA September 12, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    I have been going to clubs in Manchester since 1979 and throughout those years upon til the arrival of ecstacy. Most dance night had a variety of genres played from john grant colin Curtis to Hewan Clarke mike shaft greg Wilson chad Jackson Stu Allan to MASTERJAM MDS Andy Madhatter and Dean, Nadine Andrews Patrick playboy booth Dr D Sam Brown Johnny Jay soul control and more all of these Djs played across the board it might be soulful but there might be some swing beat uk street soul hip hop rap hip gogo house electro jazz Latin it was only when ecstacy arrived that truthfully the djs whom were there for the love of educating the listeners and dancers got of as they weren’t interested in playing to those whom only wanted the music to work in conjunction with the Es they were taking. This is why the black kids left the Hac. Also I’ll repeat this again Hewan did play house in the hac what he didn’t do was play four or five records back to back as when he played it late 84/5 there was no ecstacy and the sound of the hac was even worse then until Salford Universities acoustic people later ( if my memory serves me right ) came up with the sticking plaster solution of acoustic plastic hanging from roof and at entrance a year or so after Hewan left.

  25. house music September 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Very good article.
    House music really hit the UK.

    I love this dancefloor space. All of this song!

  26. Neil September 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    I am amazed it has taken all these years for people to start putting the record straight. The video clip of the guys in Moss Side was a nice memory trip for me. I remember the late hours at the Jive Turkey when it was held in a place called Mona Lisa’s and a crew of black lads who hung out at the back playing cards would get on the dancefloor when the house stuff came on (early DJ International/Trax stuff – nearly always instrumental). I learnt how to dance by watching this lot. I think there was me and one other white lad apart from them who dared try and dance to these records. At the time they seemed to be 100 mph! This would have been autumn/winter 86. A lot of people in Sheffield called it fast-foot/fast-feet or something like that. I think the other white bloke was an old breaker – I never actually got to know any of them beyond nodding terms. So these were the serious dancers and they would mostly hang out at the back, like I say, playing cards, smoking and mostly waiting for the Jack Trax style stuff. Before that they would play all sorts. Big tunes I remember where Under Me Sleng-Teng, tracks by Nitro Deluxe, Joyce Simms, Mantronix, Tito Puente and things like Dancing In Outer Space. A real mix.

    By 87 there was a crowd building up at the Leadmill on a Wednesday (even before Graham Park took that night) and that was when the ‘Challenges’ started happening cos the dancefloor was big enough for it. I think a lot of lads used to come down from Bradford and Leeds. Still in 87 there were a few nights at the City Hall where they would have a jazz room (amazing dancers in there – too good for me!) and the main room was house/hip-hop/funk. The first acid house (this is before it became known as acid house) and techno tunes were played a lot (Armando etc) and they seemed nuts – only a few people knew what to do with them. The ways these lads used to dance was fantastic and I was always more interested in watching them than the jazz dancers who would essentially freestyle. Dancing to things like ‘Land of Confusion’ however was all about footwork – fast, intricate and bang on the rhythm. Metronomic and getting down low. Superb balance. Not necessarily acrobatic – it was dancing to machine music. By mid 87 there were nights playing good dance music at The Limit (DJ Anthony I remember – friendly bloke), Leadmill and all the nights set up by Jive Turkey (Turn Ups, Stars, Samantha’s – wherever they could get a gig) and some great all-nighters in old warehouses and the like. At this point I would say it was getting close to a 50-50 split between black and white in the clubs (maybe 40-60) – something that had never really happened before. Door policy on Sheffield clubs was miles better than places like Nottingham which we used to call vanilla-doors. I remember going to some of the all-dayers at Rock City in Nottingham and the mix there was good though. Winston used to go round the Jive Turkey letting you know when the next one was and sell tickets. One had Mantronix playing. The sound quality was pretty poor for them but great for the DJs before and after. They were great because you had crews from all over the North and Midlands. I think Colin Curtis might have DJed a few of these. A great mixed crowd – male-female, black-white. Electric atmosphere on the dancefloor. Whisltles going off to Krush’s ‘Jacks Back’. Happy days.

    I can distinctly remember when things started to change. I had to leave Sheffield in ’89 and just before I went I took a mate to a Jive Turkey night back at Mona Lisa’s and I was gobsmacked by how crowded and how white it was – lots of lads in Madchester gear – and it was the first time that the drugs were really noticeable (aside of speed and spliff from before). There was hardly any room on the dancefloor. To be fair it was a top night with a cracking atmosphere. The first time I saw people dancing on chairs and tables simply because there was no more room. They dropped French Kiss that night – one of the first times I think. And Ain’t Nobody (Chaka Khan) went down big. When I moved to Nottingham I went to The Garage and really didn’t like it.. It was very crowded and very white and a totally different vibe. A few months later Venus opened and I felt like the ‘scene’ had been taken over by a new crowd. I remember a dj with King Charles style locks waltzing into the club like he was the business and the club was full of posers. This was the start of the Mixmag era if you like. I never liked the Nottingham crowd really. I know that the scene in Sheffield was still good then – it was going through the bleeps thing and the early days of Warp.

    There is definitely two era’s to the whole scene and to my mind the first one started dying around the same time as the other took over which would be around 1988. Took me a long time to adjust and by then I was in London and thought the clubs there were shit. I got slowly adjusted to the ‘rave’ sound and used to like the energy of it but it was not a dancers thing.
    Anyway…sorry for rambling – just my two penneth worth as I was always a bit miffed that the ‘official story’ of Uk house only included the ‘Ibiza’ crowd and the Hac which is a fucking nonsense as I am sure you know. In 1986 everyone in Manchester seemed to be walking round in black roll necks and DM shoes. It was still very indie.

    I’m not old enough to have been into the original Northern Soul scene but even back then understood that the scene in Sheffield in 86-88 was very similar in spirit – uptempo, about dancing, almost a big secret, all nighters, people travelling, all dayers etc. I wasn’t part of the inner-circle in Sheffield but people were very friendly. I talked to Winston and Rob Mitchell now and again and whoever was serving in Fon/Warp. All the local bands used to appear at Jive Turkey nights and I have to say none of them were any good at dancing!

    Loving your site by the way. Some really interesting and well thought out stuff on it

  27. Gustavo October 4, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Great Post ! I love house music! Music Really Hit the UK!

  28. HHA November 18, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    Having finished my read which was very enjoyable by the way, i must insist that you may have made an error (in my opinion) as most people look to Australia, Melbourne as the starting locale for the “Melbourne shuffle” which although has evolved from this “cutting” apparently it is widely different still and should be considered a different dance style ie. the predecessor to “cutting” due to having different music, moves, and the fact that it seems mostly a white crowd into it is just due to their preference of the underground scenes over what is now the Hip-Hop scene today.

  29. greg wilson November 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Hi HHA: I think you may have misinterpreted what I was saying there (although I’m not quite clear what you mean) – I just mention that there are people (not ‘most people’, as you paraphrase) who believe that ‘The Melbourne Shuffle’ is the origin of the current UK shape cutting styles. I clearly don’t believe this personally, the whole basis of the piece being that the lineage dates back to the early House scene in the North and Midlands, then back further still to the Jazz Fusion dancers before them. I’ve re-phrased to avoid confusion.

  30. Wez G November 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi, a really interesting and enlightening article. We set up the Shuffle DJ collective in 1997 in our small town south wales pub where people weren’t fully dancing to our Tuesday night DJ sessions, but were shuffling their feet… When I read of the true origins of the ‘Shuffle’ it really cheers me up to see that we named our organisation correctly. I have been brought up on the whole Ibiza myth and haven’t felt comfortable for ages regarding the true origins of house in the UK. Peter Hook’s hacienda book really made me open my eyes to the importance of the Manchester scene and your article here enhances the information contained in that book. I think that the best clubs have always had a healthy cultural mixtures of races and other social factors. We had a lot of success on the Birmingham scene where there always seemed to be a healthy mixture of different backgrounds and where our Welsh travelling crowd were free to Shuffle away… Peace and Love. Wez G. (from the second generation of UK house shufflers…)

  31. Tim Raidl January 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Hi All.

    Very Interesting article, I saw the whole House scene develop, from an interesting perspective as an insider so to speak… I worked for and eventually ran A&R for The groundbreaking seminal Jack Trax Label in the UK. So travelling the UK promoting and releasing these early 12″ singles and compilations i was there from the start, and saw the scene flourish and develop across the whole country.

    There are in fact elements of truth in the all posts, and would like to sew up a few seams as i see it. that will perhaps help enlighten.

    The first few records drifted in from Chicago 85-86, but the main ground being laid by actually as several correctly point out, a few uptempo black records such as Colonel Abrahms – Trapped, Willie Colon – Set Fire to Me, Serious Intention – You Dont Khow, At the time the UK was focused on Black Hip Hop post Electro, and The Soul Boogie scenes, of old. Norman Jay and Judge Jules were pioneering the Warehouse Rare Groove Scenes, along with Jay Strongman and Mark Moore who were playing to an eclectic mix of Hip Hoppers and trendy Rockabillies left over from the Punk Scene.

    Articles have quite rightly stated the early records being played in clubs by the adventurous DJ, were more a lesson in clearing dance floors! – I can remember playing Chip – E – Time to Jack, to a largely Hip Hop crowd and virtually getting bottled off stage… In fact a good friend of mine Eddie Richards will tell you that Noel and Maurice Watson (Mixed the Early Streetsounds Electro Releases) had to have wire bars constructed around the DJ booth at Camden Palace Delerium club when they started to play House Music for the first time.

    In the main though i can tell you that the initial scene was burgeoning in small pockets whether it be Camden Palace in London or Pyramid (London Gay Club) or The Hacienda, Initially The Jack Track Compilation Volume 1 sold very few copies, Jack Trax (Indigo Music) was a company set up after Damon D’Cruz and Mahesh Bajaj had parted company in a highly successful business relationship running early compilation label Serious Records.

    Jack Trax was born and Volume 1 was released, Robin King who was working A&R and Running Club Delerium, suddenly decided to leave and run the club full time. and i was installed as Head of A&R. (because of the lack of internet !!!! at the time, the countries tastemakers and DJ’s virtually relied on a column written by Record Mirror journalist James Hamilton, which reviewed all the hot mainstream dance records of the week coming out of New York mainly, as well as domestic releases on the soul scene in the UK. So what i am getting at is there were pockets of DJs and Tastemakers in scenes all hearing what was going on via Record Mirror, ID Magazine, as well as Jazzy M, Stu Allan, perhaps Jeff Young, plus the kids who travelled the All dayer scene were starting to hear Raze – Jack the Groove, (again another NY record produced by Vaughan Mason from Bounce Rock Skate Fame) – These records started to get played alongside the Hip Hop and filtering through,

    Even after the Chart hits of Steve Silk Hurleys version of Jack your Body, and Farleys version of Love Cant Turn Around, the scene was still embryonic, in fact the Steve Silk Hurley record was cleverly released when the charts were traditionally selling very little just after Christmas, Hence it stormed the Top 40.

    At this time The DJ International Chicago House Tour was being brought over to the UK and (Europe) to try and get the kids interested in the scene, There are some clips on YOUTUBE if you hunt, that were filmed on the European leg of the Tour.

    At the time Fingers Inc had smashed the Billboard Chart with Distant Planet, a rare feat then for a house record. there was also an interesting “welding” and cross polination of House and Hip Hop sample records, which culminated with Marrs – Pump up the Volume, masterminded by club runner Dave Dorrell, and London based Hip Hop Scratch DJ CJ Mckintosh, at the same time Jonathan and Matt were also mixing House and Hip Hop together in the highly successful Doctorin the House, these very underground initially DIY releases on small labels went on to be huge pop hits, further bringing in a uk perspective on the sound of UK house, in the North, T-Coy, Hotline, and Gerald were also busily making UK takes on what they were being influenced and interested by. – Remember all still very underground, with the occassional record breaking through and gaining more media coverage in the Music Press.

    The big turning point was I think, and as we all now know not Ibiza (although more on this later) – but in my opinion, the moment that party drugs started gradually filtering through from New York club culture, this fuelled a natural demand in rise of tempos, and more energy, and thus House Music was embraced by a receptive audience, I can remember going to early house clubs, full of the usual faces on the scene, mostly people involved with the scene, club runners, people that worked in labels, a very small community of fans, and suddenly things had exploded in the space of weeks, clubs had queues around the blocks, It was the explosion of the Drug culture, that fuelled this, remember most clubbers did not go to Ibiza until years later.

    In 88 the sound became more and more mainstream, as many many people were switched onto clubbing and the House Scene, records were selling thousands and thousands by the week, and some of the earlier house releases initially overlooked like The Nightwriters – Let the Music use you, and Rhythim is Rhythim – Strings of Life (Detroit) as well as Ralphi Rosario – You used to Hold Me, and Master C&J – Face it, suddenly became massive anthems, and the house anthem was born…. these records were selling thirty thousand copies a week but were generally not charting, as the movement became bigger, The scene started to move into abandoned warehouses and spaces, like Schoom, and Clink Street, along with the more mainstream clubs like Astoria, Camden Palace was still popular, also Heaven (London Gay Club had Huge Nights for House Music, promoted by Nicky Holloway. – Also the Hacienda was still hugely influencial, The Scene had gone overground and the Italian House Piano anthems were starting to be popular, along with early proto rave and Hardcore Scenes of “NRG – I need your Lovin”, which i signed and Hardcore Rhythm Team, which ultimately pioneered the start of Jungle and then eventually Drum and Bass.

    As a Footnote, the scene has interestingly gone full circle post Dubstep, we have had a new resurgance of Deep House in the UK, but more crucially there is a scene that has been quietly building in Chicago, Post House, and totally oblivious to what was going on in the rest of EDM USA, and that is the Footwork Scene, which has its own DJ’s and its own Dance Crews, along with a massive underground largely Black following for it’s events, these have all been going on largely unnoticed for the last ten years or more, as the next step on from the Chicago Booty Ghetto and Juke Scenes.

    160bpm frenetic sampled music, initially sounding spiky and disparate, draws you in, just like the early house scene did back in the day, sounded so alien. “The Footwork Scene” is exploding, and the Internet is now fueling its huge spiral, the good thing is it has built itself strong foundations, with a scene, that is not media led, and the records once again are starting to sample old disco and Sci Fi and are a creative hotbed of underground bedroom producers, not just in Chicago, but lately UK, ( Addison Groove surely a Guy Called Gerald moment of our Modern Age) Paris and Japan, where Footwork Compilations are now being picked up by todays current tastemakers…..

    Tim Raidl – Ex Jack Trax Records / Salsoul Records UK

  32. Kieran Alexis May 1, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    You know we’re in an awful lot of trouble when people try and regulate behavour like . . . banning dance moves. . . .ffs . . .i’d get thrown out in a new york minute, the way I dance . . .sheesh.

  33. del September 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Excellent piece and some really great comments as well. Thanks for an interesting trip back in time.

  34. Kerry Boyd November 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    hi my name is mr shapes its a spiritual thing though and through

  35. Jay strongman November 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    House really came to the UK via the import shops around London and the popularity was largely to do with the London soul pirates playing new dance music along with soul and funk and alot of current r’n’b and as for jazzy m bringing house music to London is utter rubbish he had nothing to do with it there’s so much miss information about who pioneered this scene and that scene,but only the people who were,there know the real truth it’s just a shame that future generations will take Internet articles as gospel and the real people who championed the,original sound of house will be forgotten I just feel lucky to have been there from day 1

  36. greg wilson November 26, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    Hi Jay: Surprised that you’re so down on Jazzy M. Most people from that mid 80’s period, including other London House pioneers like Noel Watson and Eddie Richards, certainly acknowledge his contribution. Also, there’s nowhere in the piece that states he ‘brought House to London’, I just listed him along with a handful of other DJ’s from the capital, all of whom are generally recognised as being key to the development of the House scene in London.

  37. greg wilson November 26, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    I’d like to flag up a fascinating interview I did with Jive Turkey DJ Parrot, who commented earlier in the thread. Great perspective: http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/parrot/

  38. Jay strongman November 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    In reply to your latest message I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick I’m not down on any one just stating the truth in answer to your first point most people From the mid eighties period? or most people who’ve read about that period? Well let me correct you on two points firstly jazzy m was an assistant in a record shop at that time and not the owner of a shop 2nd the bringing house music to London is his own claim which is utter rubbish if anyone should get credit for bringing in house imports into the uk it should be greg James who was the owner of spin offs in Hammersmith and cited as the first person to bring mixing to the uk as for pioneers of the London house scene no particular djs can take credit for this seeing as house was being played on lots of pirate stations therefore alot of djs were playing it including myself

  39. greg wilson December 3, 2014 at 5:45 am #

    Hi Jay: Again, I think you’re misquoting me here – I never said Jazzy M was the owner of Spin-Offs, but that he run (managed) the shop, which I don’t think is in question. I’m well aware of Greg James’s legacy and have been one of the people to most vehemently cite his contribution to UK dance culture, as in this piece about the evolution of mixing in the UK: https://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/08/from-garrard-to-technics-how-british-djs-began-to-mix

    To repeat, I never say in the piece that Jazzy M, or anyone else ‘brought House Music to London’. If this, as you state, is his own claim, it isn’t something I’ve repeated here – I’ve simply mentioned him along with a handful of other DJ’s who championed House music in the capital. This wasn’t meant to be a definitive list (although these names are generally acknowledged as pivotal in the evolution of London’s House scene), but just to state, in a piece where the focus is on what was happening in the North and Midlands at the time, that there were London DJ’s also playing House (albeit from a different entry point – the North and Midlands plugging directly into the existing black music networks).

    As for your own contribution, I have great respect for what you were doing at Dirtbox and the other nights, and in helping instigate the warehouse scene in London, but my understanding was that you were more aligned to the Rare Groove side of things during that mid-80’s period.

  40. Jay strongman December 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Hi Greg I think you’re actually misquoting me here I never said you stated jazzy m owned spin offs I said he wasn’t the owner of a shop at that time he was an assistant. The shop which you refer to called the vinyl zone which he opened with partner jasper the vinyl junkie actually opened years later and by that time House Music was already commercial in the uk with everyone jumping on the bandwagon and as for the rare groove scene this was one of many scenes happening in London at the time and my understanding of the northern scene was that it was much more aligned to the northern soul scene.

  41. tony lionni December 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    to bring things back full circle to the origin of the thread I believe it was more to inform the latest generation of club goers who have ended up here through the current influence of social media.
    Before the current generation it was mostly white student kids who spent their student grants on a pair of turntables and some house records.
    But as we know before the dance explosion beginning of the 90s when most white kids went to Indie or “weirdo nights” or pound a pint rick astley nights to get real drunk and knock F”””k out of each other it was kids who had followed the evolution of black music without any media influence who danced to house music which was a mostly black and mixed race crowd, myself included.
    As to being “who was the first Dj to play house in the UK being a tough one. It would have been purely who was closest to a record shop with the best importation of black music at the time, not who was more clued up than the other. As I saw it, most of it wasnt considered “black enough” to be played in the best clubs in manchester so it never took off and was cast off only to be picked up by a different class of club goer. The rest of the story we all know.

  42. Tonka December 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    Ive had a quick skim through this and I haven’t got a fucking clue what any of you are banging on about.

  43. Anthony December 9, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    It seems House music is a very personal and sensitive issue to a lot of people. For many different reasons. The creation of identity. Finding out what and who was good for you. It’s one of the most miss represented sub-cultures due it’s reliance on chemicals that produce empathy and compassion.

    Maybe we should take our story to the house of commons and have a real debate…

  44. greg wilson December 11, 2014 at 1:38 am #

    Hi Jay: Sorry, a bit of confusion re the shop you meant – I was thinking you were referring to Spin Offs given Greg James was mentioned immediately afterwards. With regards to Northern Soul, it was pretty much a spent force when the first House records started to come into the UK (although it did subsequently resuscitate in a more streamlined form) – the main thrust of the piece was to illustrate that it was within the black scene, which was a completely different audience to Northern Soul, that House first flourished in the North and Midlands.

    Hi Anthony: You’re not wrong, it’s a minefield of individual angles, opinions and experiences, especially with regards to how things took off in London, and which DJ’s were at the cutting-edge of developments. Thankfully the lineage is more clear-cut with regards to the North and Midlands, which (I have to keep emphasising) is what the focus of this piece is about.


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    […] Cutting Shapes – How House Music Really Hit The UK – via Greg Wilson – 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. […]

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