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Archive | Black Culture

Funk Night At The Haçienda

It was 30 years ago that I launched my specialist weekly dance night on Friday August 19th 1983 at The Haçienda in Manchester, then very much a club struggling to find its identity. It was a case of too much space and not enough people during those difficult early years of its existence (having opened in May 1982), and, as I’ve said previously, had it not been for New Order’s success (the band were co-directors of The Haçienda) it would never have survived – Peter Hook’s book ‘The Haçienda – How Not To Run A Club’ is testament to the follies of a group of idealists who somehow, despite their near suicidal naivety, managed to (eventually) shape the Manchester nightspot into one of the world’s most legendary clubs:
//blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/01/hookys-book/

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From Garrard To Technics – How British DJs Began To Mix

From Garrard to Technics

In 2009 I wrote an article on the history of mixing in this country called ‘How The Talking Stopped’. It was the most in depth piece I’d ever written, the research alone had taken many months, including a couple of trips to the British Library in London to comb through the copies of Record Mirror they have archived there, for it was within this magazine that the person who I’d certainly argue did more to promote UK DJ culture than any other human being, connected (via his essential weekly dance column) with fellow DJs in every corner of the country. This was the literally larger than life James Hamilton (1942-1996), and if you’re a British DJ, whether you’ve heard of him or not, you can’t have escaped his influence, for he’s part of the very fabric of our DJ / club heritage.

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The Tears Of A Clown – A Classic That Nearly Never Was

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles 'Tears Of A Clown'

“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says ‘treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘but, doctor…I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”

Alan Moore ‘Watchmen’ (1987)

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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.

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Love Saves The Day

Love Saves The Day by Tim Lawrence

Given the current fascination with Disco, and a fresh wave of interest in its history, I thought it would be good time to flag up what many would regard as the must read book on the subject, outlining the development of the movement in downtown New York during the ’70s. Here’s my review for Grandslam magazine back in 2003, when Tim Lawrence’s epic ‘Love Saves The Day – A History Of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979’ was first published:

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Disco Now Disco Then

Daft Punk are sitting pretty at the top of the UK singles chart for the first time. The track in question, ‘Get Lucky’, taken from their forthcoming album, ‘Random Access Memories’, came as something of a surprise, for instead of hitching itself to the current EDM juggernaut that’s sweeping America, the French duo have completely bucked the trend by drawing their influence from Disco, featuring its most celebrated guitarist, the great Nile Rodgers of the Chic Organisation (as well as R&B vocalist, Pharrell Williams). A media sensation, it’s everywhere at the moment – on the radio, on the TV, in the clubs and, of course, all over the internet, becoming the most streamed new release in Spotify history. It’s already been re-edited by a whole host of DJs and is pretty much nailed on to be the single of the summer.

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Danny Krivit – Roller DJ

Danny Krivit

A week on Saturday I play a pretty special London gig at Loft Studios alongside NYC edit maestro Danny Krivit, the guy who set the standard back in the ’80s with his classic re-imagining of MFSB’s ‘Love Is The Message’, one of the quintessential New York Disco anthems. Full lowdown on the gig here, at Resident Advisor: //www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?440816

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