Today I was digging and while I was digging I was thinking about my last night out and what it meant…
My sister had booked tickets to Classical Hacienda at the Royal Albert Hall – classic tunes from the iconic Manchester Club played by a full orchestra. So a room full of 40 somethings were transported back to the early 90s when Manchester was the coolest place on earth.
As a teenager in 1989 I was lucky enough to live a 20 minute bus ride from Manchester or as it was know then ‘Madchester‘. I also had very understanding parents when it came to having fun so got to experience the ‘second summer of love’ despite being slightly too young to do so. My main experience of the Hacienda was queuing outside with my mates for an hour and, as we was very much underage, being turned away. We’d then go to the back of the line and put our hair up take out coats off and try again. Now any underage person trying to get into the Hac at that time will remember the woman on the door and the rumours that circulated about her – she had a degree in psychology which gave her special powers so she could tell when you were lying. We all hoped to get one of the guys but inevitably got questioned by the woman and forgot our ‘dates of birth’ and ended up in the lesser known labyrinth that was Conspiracy round the corner.
The thing was, it was tricky to make yourself look older in the early 90s without looking like a Shaz (girls who were still having perms and wearing stilettos). Young people of today try and imagine what it was like to get ready for a night out without fake tan, false lashes, or gels. Imagine trying to make your 15 year old self look older in a pair of flared coloured jeans, trainers and a hooded top. Lucky for us this was the time of the rave scene and when you all met up at Sandbach services to get directions no one cares how old you are.
The press and government defined ‘ravers’ as people on drugs dancing in a field to monotonous music and this was seen as a very bad thing. In my experience (which was mostly in warehouses rather than fields due to the Manchester weather) it was so much better than your average night club. Mainstream clubs were always a bit of a meat market – full of leery blokes standing nest to the dance floor with cheesy one liners wearing chinos and shirts with a bit of paisley on the front. At raves we’d meet boys who’d talk about ‘mad stuff’ who liked to dance, they had cute long hair and middle partings and were wearing, well, pretty much the same as us.
Of course there are still warehouse parties going on but not on the same scale as before the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act was introduced in 1994. This was brought in to put a stop to people gathering and dancing about where ever they liked and people protested by gathering and dancing about. Even if it hadn’t, all youth movements have a life span and as fashion changed it would have probably become less popular anyway – you can’t really rave in platform heels and a boob tube.
On a Wednesday night in London I was listening to the same tunes in a box at the Royal Albert Hall (my sister booked a box by mistake but it worked out well as there was waiter service which meant neither of us had to queue at the bar).
The lady in the next box works in the city and has brought a couple of her clients who are leaping around with their hands in the air. We chat about what it was like back in the day and dance about to Voodoo Ray played by the orchestra clasping our glasses of pinot grigio instead of bottles of water.
I look around and see the ravers of the 90s all grown up – their top tunes legitimised. At some point in life most of them have popped pills and danced under the stars, some of them may have been to the Hacienda before it was turned into flats (I did eventually get in when I turned 18!). Most of them hold down good jobs and need to rush back straight after the performance to pay the babysitter. So, fear not people in charge – we grew out of it.
Well sort of, I think there was something about the freedom of that time that stayed with us. My sister is chucking back the booze and shaking her curls but tomorrow its back to training for the London Marathon, Bez is freaky dancing on stage but he’s also leading the anti fracking movement, we do our jobs in marketing and IT but we take our children to festivals in the summertime and push them round in wheel barrows.
As for me, I can still ‘put my hands in the air’ I just get a bit more of a breeze when I wave them like I just don’t care.
To find out what I was digging please go to my sister blog http://whackitwithahammer.org/