Dance before the Police come

Shut Up and Dance’s 1991 hardcore LP ‘Dance Before the Police Come’ was released at a time when the UK authorities were struggling to contain the massive explosion of raves. Thousands of people each weekend were playing a cat and mouse game with the police to party in fields and warehouses, and if the state was often outwitted by meeting points in motorway service stations and convoys of cars, it tried to keep the lid on the phenomenon by staging high  profile raids. In 1990, for instance, an incredible 836 people were arrested at a Love Decade party in Gildersome near Leeds in the north of England.

Since then the global spread of Electronic Dance Music has generally been  accompanied by the flashing blue light, the siren, and that moment when the music is abruptly turned off and the order given to clear the building. Indeed, let’s face it, the frisson of illegality has sometimes added a pleasurable edge to partying – the thrill of overcoming official obstacles just to get there, of getting one over on the authorities. And even the most mainstream of commercial club promoters like to pose as underground outlaws because they once got told to turn the music down by a man in uniform.

But police raids are serious business – often involving arrests which can lead to imprisonment, people losing their livelihoods and, in some parts of the world, social ostracism. People get injured, beaten and sometimes even killed. This article looks at a sample of police raids in recent times to get a sense of the current state of play between cops and dancers in different parts of the world. [Read more →]

More Than Just a Night Out:

Rave as Confrontation –
Marching Against the CJB in 1994

I read a review of a club night recently in my local free paper, The Islington Tribune. To capture just what a great place this club is they wrote that it is “filled with the kind of happy campers you could imagine filled a field in the ‘90s – but less crusty – it specialises in delivering the kind of electro disco beats that send buttoned-up city types into an air-punching frenzy.”

The funny thing about the above sentence is that it perfectly captures the shift from rave as a force to be reckoned with (the crusties who actually LIVE in the field – Yuk!) to a pleasant night’s entertainment for ‘buttoned-up city types’. It is not misty-eyed nostalgia to recall that rave music – as a bottom up musical and social revolution – really did disturb the status quo for a bit back there. They even brought in laws to deal with this menace!
[Read more →]