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 former member of Establishment cage-rattlers Spiral Tribe, as well as one half of early 90s duo Drum Club and founder of the ghettotech label Pro-Jex… Charlie Hall.
Q. Do you remember what you were doing as the Summer of 1988 started?
I was on a three-month trip to Thailand. I had been aware of this ‘new music’ coming over from NYC and Chicago. I was going to Jah Shaka reggae blues nights in Peckham and my mates and I used to put on funk and rare groove nights in Brixton. This new ‘machine music’ was faster… and strange.
Q. When or where did you first realise that ‘something different’ was happening with music, particularly dance/club music?
When I went to a Mutoid Waste Company rave in Kings Cross. There was one little room with a strobe and smoke machine. The DJ was dropping the tunes, and the scales fell from my eyes..!
Q. Was there a particular tune from the Summer of 1988 that stood out for you? Why?
Fingers Inc’s Can You Feel It? That Roland bassline and the Dr. Martin Luther King speech dropped in on top of it… we didn’t need drugs for that!
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?
We were fortunate to have that massive cultural wave. It changed licensing laws – pubs used to close at three in the afternoon, clubs used to close at 3am. We shook all that up.
Everything was more relaxed; you could get a ‘night’ going anywhere. The clubs were desperate to have us. In terms of fashion, politics, design and obviously music, it seems to have been the last time that a ‘youth’ movement changed the entire world.
Things I’m particularly proud of include being part of the ‘Midi Circus’ that toured Orbital, Spooky, Aphex Twin, System 7, Underworld, Psychick Warriors ov Gaia and introduced audiences to live techno; being one of the founding founding 23 members of Spiral Tribe and taking on The Establishment; and our band, Drum Club, playing further north than any British band, ever, in the town of Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland.
Most of all, I’m proud to say I was there…but now I’m ‘losing my edge’!
Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?
Listen to the groove, and get the Roland 909 ‘shuffle’ working.