Given all the chaos and uncertainty of the times we’re currently living through, like many people I’ve been mulling over the future and what kind of world lies ahead of us, considering what’s really important and should take priority.
As I’ve previously said, I’ve pretty much written off DJ work this year, although I remain hopeful that socially distanced events will perhaps be sanctioned in a few months, bridging the gap to when it’s safe to properly open up the clubs again. That said, it’s not going to be for another 12 months, until Glastonbury heralds the resumption of the UK’s summer festivals, before there’s any type of normality restored for my profession.
Pondering how to best use my time between now and then I’ve reached a decision that involves suspending the blog, as, with regards to my writing, all my time and attention will be needed in order to finish an important task that’s long been in abeyance – the book I propose to write about the black music scene in the early-‘80s, and its crucial influence on the course of UK dance culture.
This has been sitting on the backburner since 2003, just before I started to DJ once again after a two-decade hiatus. I managed to get it drafted out at the time, but I was well aware that to comb through, adding the further information and detail necessary to bring it to completion, was going to be extremely time-consuming. As my revived DJ career began to snowball the opportunity for me to put aside the time to finish the book diminished, and although I’ve been able to pilfer from the draft for various pieces I’ve subsequently written, the possibility of actually getting back to the book and concluding what I started has been unrealistic.
One of the questions I’m most asked is ‘when are you writing a book?’, and my answer is always ‘I’ll get around to it one day’, so its time to finally call it and set my intention – the plan being to get it all rounded off by this time next year, in readiness to publish in 2022, 40 years on from the key year of 1982, when the new Electro direction out of New York first surfaced, bringing seismic consequences for dance culture. I figure that if I don’t set myself this deadline I might never get around to factoring it in – the enforced restrictions at present providing the opportunity for me to resolve this.
The publication of Norman Jay’s 2019 book ‘Mister Good Times’, brought this sharply into focus for me. In reviewing it I remarked on how important it was that black culture in the UK is documented – there’s precious little in print from the black perspective, in contrast to the predominantly white working class movement of Northern Soul, where there’s a whole library of books to refer to. As a white DJ who found his place back then with a largely black audience, I may not have grown up as part of that community, but in experiencing what I did during those years of the early-‘80s, I learnt a lot about the people and their lifeblood passion for music and dancing, and it’s this that I wish to highlight and celebrate.
Something has to give though. I started the blog back in June 2010, and throughout the past 10 years its been a constant point of connection, allowing me to share my thoughts on various aspects of popular culture and my ongoing role as a DJ. There’s 10 years-worth of content now, which will remain accessible, documenting the final decade before the next phase, whatever that it, for 2020 is undoubtedly a year of turbulence and change, fuelled by confusion, outrage and anger – the point where we all realise that this 21st century is very different to the last one and, for better or for worse, there’s no turning back.
I may resume the blog at some point, and will no doubt write the odd piece for publication elsewhere, but, for now, I need to place my attention elsewhere. I’ll still be posting on my FB page, so if I feel the need to comment on anything I’ll do so there.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the blog during these past 10 years, helping make it such a success. When I started it I had no idea that it’d become such an important aspect of what I do, but it’s now time to look at things from a fresh perspective and set myself this new objective, which can only be achieved by the completion and publication of a book which I hope will enhance understanding and appreciation of a seminal period of our club history.