Club culture, regardless of how much those throughout the world refuse to believe it, has cemented itself as one of the most important aspects of our lives today. Even if you’re not one of the many millions who love to go out for a drink on a Saturday night, it is impossible to deny that clubbing brings something unique and diverse to our community.
Recently, club culture has come under threat. Venues closing, licensing laws becoming increasingly strict. Where’s all the fun gone? I can’t remember the last time I saw the words club and culture put together in a headline that wasn’t negative. The very thing that we love is being taken away from us, and I’m not just talking about the physicality of it all.
The culture itself is disappearing like smoke in the wind. Super festivals reign supreme, watching over us like some sort of robot overlord. What’s happened to the little nights? The kind of night you could go to and watch some old man in a feathered cowboy hat sweating it out until 7am? The fun is being sucked right out of it, it’s as if someone has given Steve Aoki a massive straw.
Throughout this feature I’ll take a look at the history of club culture, the importance of culturally important venues and how the culture that we love is being McDonaldised right before our very eyes, all aided by the intriguing discussion Dave Haslam and Mark Lawrence conducted at this year’s AVA Conference.
06 / 06
Wars with Hippies and Cocaine in Sandwich Shops
The very beginning of club culture is hard to pin point. It’s impossible to determine exactly where it all began. Dave Haslam, in his latest book Life After Dark, takes a closer look at the birth of club culture, venturing back as far as the 1840’s.
It’s clear that the culture of clubbing isn’t something entirely fresh. Sure, Van Morrison brought his blues along for the party in the 60’s, and disco mania swept the nation through the 70’s and 80’s, and of course the house music revolution was not far behind, but it seems thousands of Victorian people where gathering to watch an array of entertainment and get pissed long before these revolutionary eras.
However, back then restrictions were limited. In an interview with THUMP Haslam even mentioned you could buy cocaine in a sandwich shop in Soho during the 1920’s. Now, I’m not saying that Subway should start stocking up on white powder, but it gives you an illustration of the freedom, and naivety, that existed back then.
Political opposition began in the 1960’s. The Hippies vs The Fuzz. Haslam explains to The Skinny in an interview that there is much more to this than meets the eye. “In the late 1960s, police began to raid psychedelic clubs like Middle Earth. That wasn’t about trying to catch a few people with a few joints; it was about society going to war with the hippie underground.”
That war rages on today. Not just with the authorities, but with super venues that have sprouted up like weeds, or flowers depending on how you look at it, across the world. It might not be a hippy going toe to toe with a police officer anymore, but there’s definitely a battle being fought somewhere throughout the early hours of the morning. The freedom and diversity of club culture is disappearing, so how do we get it back?