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Legalise now!
The tragedy was that this daughter of whining moral guardian parents missed out on massmarket compilations, package tour raves on the med and VIP lounges. At least smack death girl Rachel Whitear wisely chose annihilation

Meanwhile, in swinging

...Spit Fire is designed to look like a Nissen hut, serving authentic WW2 ration snacks and with an enforced 12-hour lock-in when the authentic air raid siren sounds. Ironmongers’ Pub: In the heart of Coketown’s bohemian East End, with art on the walls; this is a building combining the best gritty features of a condemned building: with the edgy ambience of a squat. As your reviewer sips his 3.50 pint of lager and sees the graffiti covering the walls in the gents’ toilet he wonders if there is an art prank being played on him!

Top of my chart is an un-named bar, known only to the cognoscenti. Food and drink is not served. Only once every six months grain is scattered on the floor. There is a (self-service) supply of specially polluted tap water; and no sanitation but a hole in the floor of the basement. Salvation A new addition to nightlife in Clerkenwell. Only bread and water is served apart from house wine at Mass times (once every two hours 24/7/365).

To enter this VIP bar one must take a vow of silence for the duration of the visit. I encountered TPT there on my visit. Salvation Army Security demands that clients leave all the worldly goods that they are currently in possession of at the door.

These are redistributed to the poor and clients are given a garment made of sackcloth. Recently Nicky Haslam was seen having a competition with Elton John in the queue as to who was paying the most to get in (Nicky lost as he had not actually paid for his donations). © Chris Byrne 2001

Bored of
pills and toot?

Then try this Saudi Justice method: it will get you proper fucked-up:

Around every 30 minutes a guard came and ordered me alternately to stand or sit. They threatened me that if I dropped off they'd chain my arms to a pipe in the ceiling. I had no sleep at all for seven days and I collapsed hallucinating.

Wicked man!

Commuting edge

I went to the Waterloo Festival the other day, must be one of Vince Power's latest offerings... The main arena was totally packed, everybody going off to different stages, or platforms as they're known: took me 15 minutes to get from the Eurostar Stage to the Cashpoints. The visuals were wicked man, loads of blue screens offering indecipherable, incorrect and random information, packing all the ravers into one main area, while the main bands were blasted out over what sounded like a tannoy system, again shouting out irrelevant information Underworld-style.

People were wandering around confused, looking for help but everyone must have been so out of it because no-one was talking to one another. Apparently, the place to get to was the Woking stage, but the security was holding the eager punters up, checking every last ticket...


corporate clubbers

Dance music could have been more than CDs, branding and havin’ it. But now you can get off it in Ibiza through a Pringles promotion. Rave culture has lost its potential: fact

In a few years’ time, dance music and rave culture will be entering its F2 generation, dads will have turntable battles with their kids, each pronouncing their shit to be the more fucked-up, the more freaked, the more far out. We’ve already had Dave Piss’ ‘Dance Decade’ on TV, an excuse for the scene’s faces to wax lyrical over a certain year’s tunes and for old bastards like myself to get similarly nostalgic. Never before has a youth culture commoditised to such a degree but still contained the seeds of so much potential subversion. But then never before has a culture developed at a time of sickly mass marketing, corporate horsepisstality and bastard brand-awareness.

That it has is due to its basic dualism, the difference between the multifarious products it peddles (records, merchandise, the tour, the t-shirt) and the drugs and tunes behind them that keep the scene high: the legitimate face and the illegal reality. It’s not surprising it has developed that way, people have grown the industry so it can sustain itself, so people can still get fucked at their venues of choice. There are so many legalise-drugs bodies that try to legitimise the last element, but truthfully most people do not care if they are legal or not: it’s going to happen anyway, mate. But the narcotic element of the culture is still capable of causing moral indignation of the Lauren Spinks/Leah Betts variety, though there only was so much outrage about the latter because she was a pretty middle-class girl from the home cunties: she paid her money and took her chance I’m afraid. Let’s hope another tragic death does not precipitate a similar mounting of high horses and waving of moral crusade flags.

The dualism has developed to such a degree that there is an unspoken language that promotes the respectable product but leaves the narcotic latter unspoken. "That new compilation is great", or "I had a really great time at the club" - never "I got fucked in a dingy warehouse and stayed up for hours listening to tunes and talking crap", unless it’s to those that know. The dishonesty of the situation, whereby what seems like respectable capitalist activity gets promoted, goes to the very core of the establishment with the underbelly underplayed: everybody knows that the callers on the many and unvaried Radio One shows have been fucked or are about to get fucked, and everyone knows that Sarah Cox or whoever has not spent her life solely getting pissed up on booze.

Radio (on) One

In fact, the very desire to make this culture into a market, while deliberately eschewing the narcotic reality, has inadvertently made Radio One the biggest peddler of the drug subculture, something I’m sure Lord Reith would really relish if he could see it (and I’m sure he’d relish the lazy "clips and talking heads" format that dominates the TV channels’ programming). How can Dave Piss really use his jingle of "roll another fat one Dave" or the havin’ it language? Nowadays, if you’re 15 and you want an entry point into taking drugs and losing it in raves, you head straight for British Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship station. And it’s at this point that I must go into the despicable coziness that is the most public manifestation: Norman Cock and Zoey Bullshit, Sarah Pox and John Farter. Indeed, the former has consistently been one of the worst offenders in taking the essence of whatever scene’s he’s in at the time, commoditising and ruining it by issuing a bland pop-take. Norman pronounced the death of big-beat after his mass promotion of this puerile genre prematurely bled any vitality it had. No, I’m not jealous of their success (you have been reading this properly?). These parasites do the scene no favours. These days Radio One can jump on the bandwagon of, say, the Miami Winter Music Conference, promote their frontline take on it and immediately have the WMC’s real protagonists, the djs, rightly moan about how it’s all gone stale.

That’s not to say ‘1FM’ is solely guilty for this relentless marketization. These days everyone involved is responsible. There’s so many scenes, so many sub-genres, and they all seem to have a long shelf-life, releasing their products, doing their nights while still having their regular intoxication in their milieu of choice. It eventually gets to the stage where you pick up ‘Mixslag’ and it basically comes down to a bunch of djs or promoters saying "our scene’s the maddest", "no, our scene’s the maddest" in a closet denial that they’re mainly it for the money. Most will not make their fortune from it but they can sustain their interest until their body or brain carks out, giving way to the next bunch of rave protectionists. This is not to say people come into the scene with genuine enthusiasm, in fact exactly the opposite when there’s great tunes and great drugs. And fair play to any of the smaller labels/nights that keep the business afloat and promote their take without the sad blanding into Ministry of Sound territory. It’s just that I see the potential of the movement being continually diluted and we’re all guilty. Equally, I’d rather be with them than with the total luddites listening to their ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ compilation down the pub.

At the late-80s dawn of the culture all this wasn’t so. Commercial or state radio wouldn’t touch the new sound for fear of association. It was only when people realised the potential profits that everybody moved in. It is the natural way of things in modern society: everybody wants their piece and fuck the fact that the culture blands out in doing so. In those days, the only commodity was the records sold, and the music was so independent, new and different that not too many of the Detroit or Chicago old school got rich until the Brit rave mafia started paying for their records to appear on compilations, bringing them over to dj, etc. Now it’s the US with its flourishing underground scene that looks like it’s developing the more vibrant counter-culture at the moment (though its evangelical trance appearance is bye-the-bye). More generally, there seemed like real hope in Napster’s free market for exchanging music, until once again state forces denied the original use of this new-fangled interweb thingy. Elsewhere, the real vitality and invention, at least musically if not socially, seems once again to be coming from the pirate stations, not surprising when they have to wilfully place themselves out of the market to develop their sound.

I am not coming from a puritan perspective. I generally believe that, yes, taking drugs and listening to repetitive beats, has evangelical or consciousness-changing potential. You could see glimmers of hope in the late 80s/early 90s when the scene was UNDER-developed. Since the superclub, the clubbing tour, the compilation CD, we’re back to where we were pre-ecstasy: unruly dominant machismo and where certain northern clubs have had to stipulate ‘no Rockports’ as a byword for "no hooligans coming in and destroying the atmosphere for genuine clubbers". Ironically, it was the Mondays, the original scally underclass, who did so much to move the social conscience several stages left. Let’s face it, raving has long since become just another leisure option.


Thus the only change comes from little alternative societies, the Exodus’, the travellers, who have to exit society to achieve it (paradoxically appearing more puritanical in the process) and that’s no use on a mass scale. Now we, the everybody else, just get fucked in our corner, tune in to our experience and off we go back into the marketplace, having left it for just a few hours - a perfectly formed market activity but a guile-less and unambitious one too.

If you start to decommoditise the scene, less music, less labels, less bandwagon clubs, less people relying on it for a living (the inevitable law of the market says that people will want more product if there’s more product to be had), and start to promote the narcotic reality then societal change might really happen. The culture is so big and so influential now that it could be the driver of change if it looked at the bigger picture less selfishly. But I have my doubts.

        The September totem