The article originally appeared in Time Out in July 2011
By Kate Hutchinson Posted: Thu Jul 28 2011
As acid house's golden era hits the Southbank this weekend, Time Out talks to the '80s scene legends about the real roots of rave culture in the UK
The ticket price certainly isn't vintage, but this weekend designer Wayne Hemingway & co's festival is heading indoors for its sophomore year and sprawling out across the eras of British clubbing culture and the Southbank's myriad spaces. Crucially for ravers, though, Vintage is the chance to experience both the halcyon Manchester and London rave days in one weekend at the festival's readymade 'Warehouse' area (all ending at the very Hacienda-authentic time of 1.30am). Some would say that's priceless.
Do not expect a smiley-faced bandana-toting acid house bonanza, however. 'What we're offering at Vintage is timeless,' explains Hemingway. 'These are all great eras that deserve to be relived.' These two particular parties aim to highlight the roots of UK rave culture. And it goes far beyond the sweat-lubed E-hugs of the summer of love in 1988. Just ask some of the scene's biggest DJs…
The roots of rave culture: Greg Wilson
A former Hacienda resident, Wilson made his name on the jazz-funk scene at Manchester's Legend club and the Wigan Pier. He co-curated The Warehouse with Hemingway's son, Jack.
'It was nights like Legend, where I played in the early '80s, and Berlin, The Playpen and The Gallery that laid the groundwork, and it culminated in what everyone knows about: the acid house explosion at The Hacienda. House music came into The Hacienda via the black crowd, who started to attend there in numbers during the mid-'80s. The black kids weren't Northern soul fans - a predominantly white, working-class scene - they were into contemporary black music of the time: a lot of New York electro and early Detroit and Chicago records.
'While Liverpool after the riots was a very racist city, Manchester was the opposite; it was very cosmopolitan. The black crowd were always the most cutting-edge and the best dancers, but in the history of dance culture that has been obscured.'
The original acid house parties: Terry Farley
An unsung legend of London's house scene, Farley is one of the driving forces behind outdoor party pioneers and football/house fanzine collective, Boy's Own.
'It wasn't until late '87 or '88 that the link between house and ecstasy was made. And then we spent two years trying to keep it secret.
'But most of us had grown up with London club culture, which was ridiculously snobby too. To get into Taboo, the guy on the door had a mirror and would say: “Would you let you in?” It wasn't until early '88 that people got relaxed, started going to each other's clubs and booking each other. Very few DJs from Manchester would play in London and very, very few DJs in London would play up there; it just didn't happen.'
Laying down the foundations of clubbing: Norman Jay
The eclectic linchpin of London's rare-groove scene, Jay and his brother Joey's Good Times warehouse parties built the clubbing infrastructure for the acid house explosion.
'At the time, the clubbing scene wasn't representative of what young, creative people in London were about, so we started putting on illegal, underground parties - in those days, if you had a soundsystem, like we did, then you had the potential to put on a rave.
'In fact, the very first acid house party used the Good Times soundsystem. Our first warehouse party was at Bear Wharf Gardens in the summer of 1986. We lost count after about 2,200 people came in. We played whatever we liked, so I played my favourite disco records, the newest cutting-edge Chicago house, great rap records, punk … it was essentially edgy black music. Many of the players who went on to be massive in the rave scene were at my parties. We set it up - all they did was change the soundtrack.
'I knew that utopia would only last for a year or two, and then, in the spring of 1988, I played at the very first acid house party, Hedonism. That was the last time all of our funky black records were played alongside the Chicago and New York house. And it was the first time that the crowd and a lot of those DJs took an E! The first summer of love happened later that year. It became massive.'
The golden days of The Hacienda: Graeme Park
The Hacienda's longest-running resident was one of the first UK DJs to champion acid house.
'I played at The Hacienda every week for eight years and I really cannot remember any Saturday night that wasn't amazing.
'People used to queue up from 8pm, get straight in there and head for the dancefloor. If you wanted to hear those obscure Chicago and Detroit acid house records, the only way was to hear me play them. You just can't say that about any club now. It didn't really work until house music, acid house music, ecstasy and all of this came together. You couldn't plan it. We'd been doing it for two years before London. The North rules and always will!'
Vintage at Southbank is at the Southbank Centre from Fri Jul 29-Sun Jul 31. Find these London and Manchester DJs in The Warehouse room.