A programme of Music and Arts from Nottingham at the birth of the Free Party movement.
Friday 25 March 2016, Rough Trade Nottingham 7pm - 2am
7pm - 7.20pm A selection of short films about the Free Party Movement and Nottingham’s revolutionary past.
Exhibition and Talk
7.40pm - 8pm Exhibition and talk by Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge - one the UK’s foremost social documentarians of the underground culture,‘Tash’ has been photographing traveller, festival, squat and protest culture from 1979 till the present day. He will be showing and discussing his photographs from the period encompassing the free party, festival and protest movements.
8pm - 9.30pm - Boysie (DIY) DJ - reggae, dub & more - the roots of sound system culture
9.30pm -11pm - Ex-Friendly (Truth & Lies) DJ - joining the dots between rave, bleep, hip hop, jungle, house & techno
11pm - Midnight - Lee (Coxie) (The BIG faces) DJ - funky, chunky and deep house from then till now
Midnight -1.30am - Cookie (DIY) DJ - Deep, acidy, tough, original 91 flavours
1.30am - 2pm - Ex-Friendly (Truth & Lies) DJ - Hug yer mates time
Expect all kinds of quality party music as we explore sound system culture, from reggae and jungle to house music and all kinds of electronic beats and bass.
After looking abroad for previous events, we thought we would look at our own city’s place in the musical and cultural upheavals of the last 100 years. Nottingham and the UK as a whole was a very different place 25 years ago though it had similarities to now. 12 years of concentrated Tory rule had ripped out the heart of various industries and alienated significant swathes of the country. Unbridled wealth-worship was still the ambition of those that prospered in the previous decade. Unemployment was sky high, the Provisional IRA were still bombing the mainland and the UK joined the USA and others in a massive military onslaught against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
However, something else was brewing in the clubs, terraced houses, squats and fields of the new decade. The M25 orbital raves and the Summers Of Love had opened the eyes and ears of a new generation. The ‘Madchester’ bands were bringing their ecstasy fuelled jangle into the front rooms of TV land, Nirvana were leading the demolition of the ‘hair metal’ bands of the Eighties and sound system culture was slowly beginning its rise to the top with Massive Attack releasing their seminal ‘Blue Lines’ album.
In Nottingham, as elsewhere, the many tribes of youth culture were represented. The city had a thriving club scene with Venus at it’s glam heart, but in the house parties and squats of NG7, a new sound and attitude was being born. Rough and ready punks, dreads, art students, soul kids and ‘New Age travellers’ were mingling hard..the heavy bass of On-U Sound’s militant dub, Belgian New Beat, Italo piano house, Chicago Acid, sped up Hip Hop and all kinds of genre-defying thump soundtracking the party. Anti-establishment, politically charged and inspired by the love drugs that were replacing alcohol as this generation’s release valve, the dressed up, gangsterism of mainstream clubland was not a viable choice. The party needed to become free, free of rules, free of time restrictions, free to express yourselves.
Out of this bubbling pot emerged like-minded crews of sound systems, party organisers, DJs, record labels and producers, names that have now left their mark in global underground culture; legends like DIY and Smokescreen sound systems, alongside local crews Go Tropo, Babble, Quadrant and a myriad more across the UK and Europe. Within a year the biggest free party ever seen took place in Castlemorton and the Free Party Movement was the number one enemy of the state, with draconian laws such as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 attempting to outlaw the free movement and gathering of partygoers and protestors alike. Everything was now political and many systems had to leave the country in order to stay on the road and away from the authorities.
Since those heady days, electronic music has taken over the world. House music cemented into our daily ambience and the the pure hedonism of party and festival culture commodified into a billion dollar industry. The original spirit continues though, in fields, forests and squatted buildings around the country, with younger crews demanding the same freedom to do-it-yourself.
Nottingham crews DIY and Smokescreen still continue today, showcasing the particular house music sound that developed in the city (alongside Derby) and is still recognised and in demand around the world.
The Revolution and Change series looks at significant dates, events and places in history and presents a snapshot of the music and art connected to these events. The programme includes collaborations from Nottingham and UK based individuals that in some way are trying to create a revolution or change in their field.
Black & White photo by Paul Mason-Smith (The Photomason). Colour photo by Alan 'Tash' Lodge