There’s no doubt that the summer of 1988 marked a watershed moment in the history of dance, as the house rhythms of Chicago, artistic exuberance of Ibiza, and electronic soundscapes of Detroit surged through club culture.
With this in mind, 909originals presents ‘Postcards from 88’, a series that will see leading DJs, promoters, journalists, club owners, photographers, and of course the clubbers themselves, shed some light on just what went on during those halcyon days, 30 years ago.
This week’s ‘Postcards from 88’ comes from a longstanding name on the DJ circuit who tasted chart success in the early 90s as a member of Awesome 3… Pete Ward.
Q. Do you remember what you were doing as the Summer of 1988 started?
I remember it well. I had just got my first residency abroad, it was at Paco’s nightclub on the Costa Del Sol, between Marbella and Fuengirola. I remember getting picked up by the club owner from the airport. I’d just got off the plane, so was a bit dazed, but I remember him not having a seatbelt on – one arm out of the window and the other hand on the steering wheel – doing over 100 miles per hour near sheer cliff edges!
I’d brought along a varied box of vinyl, and there was quite a bit of Chicago house there, including some 7-inches. My first night at the club was strange, as I would start at 11pm, and wouldn’t finish until the last person left, which was around 5am. The club had Technics 1200s – this was the first time I had used them, and I was just in awe; I was using belt drives previously.
I remember that as soon as I started playing tracks like The Todd Terry Project’s Bango and Back To the Beat, or The Jungle Brothers I’ll House You, the floor filled and the place blew up.
This music called ‘house’ had something about it, and really made you want to dance. Each night, the club was getting busier and busier, you would have lots of locals coming in after they had finished work. It ended up going from strength to strength.
Q. When or where did you first realise that ‘something different’ was happening with music, particularly dance/club music?
In 1988, I knew something was different. After Spain, I came back to the UK and got my first vinyl DJ promo list which just happened to be from FFRR, Pete Tong’s label. The quality of the house music tracks I was getting sent were second to none. I had to get more!
I started looking for more alternative record shops and somehow I stumbled upon this small record shop in Newton Le Willows – the home of Rick Astley! – called Hot Waxx. Kev Edwards, the owner at the time, and Barry May were mainly selling imported soul music, but also had started selling imported Italian and Chicago house music, I bought as much as i could afford.
I still have them now – I’ve not succumbed to selling or getting rid of my vinyl like some of my fellow DJs.
Q. Was there a particular tune from the Summer of 1988 that stood out for you? Why?
The first track which stood out was Reese & Santonio Rock To The Beat, it was a double A-side DJ Promo on FFRR. The first time I played this out, the roof took off! The heavy drums and distinctive sound rocked, and it still takes prime spot in my collection of vinyl.
Q. Why do you think that people are still so interested in the origins of the dance scene, old school and everything that goes with it?
I think because we are still all here! We were at the start of something new, something so strong that it survives today and is still played on stations like Radio 1. There is no other music that you can say this about.
Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?
When you get your first record deal, don’t buy a Porsche 911, buy a house! But then again, I did have fun in the Porsche.
[Thanks again to Pete for this week’s interview. Kudos to RETROMATIKA and Shrinechick88 for the YouTube uploads. Postcards from 88 continues next week. Check out the other interviews in the series by clicking here]