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Mixed in Berlin, June 2020
(120:02, 274 MB, 320 kbps mp3)
Direct link to the mix:
- The Age of Love – The Age Of Love (Paul Van Dyk Remix) (ZYX)
- X-Cabs – Infectious (Hook)
- Nuw Idol – Kick Drum Domination (WellWicked)
- DJ Energy – Energy ’99 Theme (Remix) (Energetic)
- Cores – Iowa (Noom)
- Parasonic – Timeless Worlds of Space (Voltage Controlled Remixes)
- S.H.O.K.K. – Folie a Deux (Pulse)
- Blade Attack – Waterloops (Drizzly)
- DJ Jan – X-Santo (Spencer Freeland & Rob Jeffery Frantic Mix) (Southeast)
- Chris C & Jon Doe – Mitsubishi Baby (Eurotrance Mix) (Endeavour)
- Mad Gay Mafia – Going to Hell (Strings of Acid Techno Mix) (Efadrine)
- Jon the Dentist – Global Phases (Prolekult)
- Girotondo – Ultimate Frontiers (K90 Remix) (Recover)
- K90 – Receptor (Aquarius)
- Lectrolux – Baloney (Baby Doc Remix) (TeC)
- Storm – Time to Burn (Nick Sentience Remix) (Data)
- OD404 – Xpress (Hard NRG Mix) (Kaktai)
- RR Fierce – Narcan (Fierce Technik)
- Mark NRG – Don’t Stop (Baby Doc Remix) (Tripoli Trax)
- Chris C – Adastra (Nile)
- Tony de Vit – Are You All Ready (Tidy Trax)
- Commander Tom – Are Am Eye? (95 Millennium Mix) (Noom)
- DJ Choci – Can You Feel The Force (Daniel ‘Billy’ Bunter & Steve Vanden Remix) (Cannon)
- Magnum Force – Unlucky Punk (Stay Up Forever)
- Immersion – Fat Acid (Smitten)
- Lab 4 – Contact London (Species)
- Karim – Columbia (Do Not Bend)
- Phil Reynolds & Steve Blake – Weekend In Oz (Impact)
- Ian M – Dreamer (Pants & Corset Remix) (Tidy Trax)
- Weirdo – Whiplash (Tinrib)
London, early 2000’s.
Waiting in line, anticipation growing. You can hear the muffled kickdrum thumping ahead of you. You chat to your friends but everyone is a little bit tense, a little bit coiled. Waiting. Impatient. Ready.
The moment you’ve been waiting for arrives. You’re at the door. You pay. Quick desultory search and in you go.
You push through and are greeted by what you’ve been waiting so impatiently for. Thundering kickdrums, pulsating offbeat bass, energetic melodies. Lasers. Smoke. A writhing mass on the dancefloor.
You stop for a moment to savor the scene before you.
A breakdown hits, soothing chords and hands raised in the air. Slowly at first and then faster and faster a snare roll rises seemingly from the bottom of the earth, spinning the electricity in the room to another level.
Then it pauses, just for a second. A collective exhale.
And the beat kicks back in to cheers and an explosion of energy.
You dive in and join the crowd.
If you lived in London in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s then this scene may sound familiar – every weekend thousands of people visited clubs, raves and parties playing some variety of hard dance music: hard house, hard trance, acid techno, hard techno, acid trance and more.
I was one of them!
So many different parties, so many different venues, but always (ok, almost always) a very special energy and vibe.
Vast warehouses. Pub back rooms. Famous venues like the Astoria and the Brixton Academy. Railway arches. Beautiful purpose-built clubs. Intimate sweatboxes. Places so filthy I shudder to think of them. We partied everywhere and under all kinds of conditions.
Frantic, Undertow (my favorite), Pendragon, Antiworld, Heat, Fevah, Trancentral, Superfish, Solid Sundays, Convergence, Zoology, Redtrip and so many more. So many different promotions, so many different dj’s, so much wonderful music.
Lawyers, accountants, builders, barmen, office admins, plumbers, students, dealers, shop workers, doctors – you shared the dancefloor with all walks of life. Rich, poor, middle class. Everyday working people dancing next to dreadlocked crusty dropouts. Cockney geezers, beautiful Italian women, posh guys, aging hippies, towering Scandinavians, Home Counties teenagers in the big city for the night, fist-pumping Northerners, wide-eyed Japanese ravers dancing with geometric precision. Even some Americans like me! And Antipodeans. Lots and lots and lots of Antipodeans. Ozzies, Kiwis and Saffas everywhere.
Really if I am being honest with myself I have to say that it was the Antipodeans who played such a big role in making the scene what it was for me. I have no idea if this even still happens, but at the time it was a right of passage for Australians, Kiwis, and South Africans to come to London on two year Commonwealth visas, where they would pack themselves in to houses in places like Willesden, Shepherds Bush, Acton, Southfields and so on, living in incredibly cramped conditions to keep living costs as low as possible (my wife lived in a similar way when she first arrived in London from Poland), and then turn their earnings from pubs, building sites and offices into fuel for traveling around Europe and, above all, for the weekend’s partying.
So don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the whole Antipodean traveller community in London was just going to hard house clubs. There was a whole parallel society scene going on in London, with magazines like TNT providing job ads and stories and event listings, and giant booze barns like Shepherds Bush’s Walkabout and Acton’s Redback dishing out music from back home and oceans of booze to accompany all the sloppy making out, puke and fistfights that you could want. I had a Kiwi girlfriend, Vanessa, for part of this time period, but these places just weren’t for me!
However, where I came into contact with the Antipodean community was through the club scene (and to this day I never really understood why so many of them came to be involved with the scene – I guess just through word of mouth?), and honestly they made such a big difference to the experience that it’s hard to overstate it. Their good humor, friendliness and love of a party helped give the scene its distinctive charge. It’s often the case in major cities that the natives are too cynical and cool to really let themselves go on a night out, so you can have amazing music without the same fervor that you might encounter in smaller cities. This is definitely something that I saw in London when I would go to places that were playing more classic Detroit techno – good music, good fun, but not the same wild abandon that you would get at somewhere like a Frantic or a Logic, where there would be moments where you would stop to catch your breath and you could look around and see everyone everywhere dancing. This is not to say that the Antipodeans were the only ones to really go wild, just that in my opinion because there were so many of them they helped to set the tone for what these parties were like, and which were in turn a reflection of the best aspects of their culture – fun, unpretentious, and energetic.
Sometimes it felt like you were dropped into a whirlpool at the beginning of the night, and then spat back out at lights on, exhausted but happy. The music itself inspired this – the relentless pulse of high velocity kick drums, the regularity of the structure of intro, bassline, riff, breakdown, snare roll, drop, meant that you were in a sense reliving the same moment over and over with the rest of the crowd, a repetitive crescendo through the night. Perhaps precisely because this wasn’t at all a fashionable scene, it attracted a crowd of people who were looking for uncomplicated fun. It was easy to make an easy friend in the chillout room or at the bar, have a quick laugh, and then go on with your night. Some of my best friends I met through the scene, especially from the Banging Tunes message board – people I still consider close friends 20 years later. Of course there were complete idiots too, and even people who were just straight-up bad people too, but in general it was a fun scene populated by fun people.
(Quick note: obviously this scene was also happening outside London too, but I did most of my clubbing in London and Edinburgh, which was more techno-oriented, so you’re getting my take on what happened in London, like it or not)
Obviously there is still hard dance music, and many of the dj’s are still out there, but the specific London scene that I was a part of, where you would have at least 4 or 5 parties per night on the weekends as well as morning, afternoon, and Sunday evening parties too, well, that is over. Too many venues closed down, not as many people interested in the music. Things change, life moves on!
However, one thing that’s heartened me a lot was being invited to the Facebook group Lockdown Legends by my friend Jon Hollamby from, yep, Australia. Just reading the group has brought a big smile back to my face and has inspired me to dig out my records from that time – the memories of the scene still mean so much to the people who were there at the time. Sometimes I find it a little weird that you could have this scene that thousands of people participated in, and there are basically no magazine articles or retrospectives about it, but it’s also clear that it lives on in the hearts of everyone who experienced it.
It was a special time, and I’m glad I was there for it.
PS: For those who weren’t there, check out this documentary:
And if you want a taste of what things were like, check out this fantastic video from a Pendragon party in 1999: