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Time for a history lesson

Memory is a crazy thing. Psychology suggests that huge chunks of our memory are false constructs, whopping great brain porkies designed to bolster up whatever zany truths we’ve decided to believe about the world. Say, for example, that you think of yourself as a virile, dancefloor dominating master of the decks, a near mythical hybrid of Julio Bashmore, Sasha and Larry Levan. 

I can guarantee that your dupable brain is going to skip past the bit from last Saturday when the landlord at the Slug & Lettuce pulled the plug on your turgid deep house set so the pub could watch Take Me Out: the Gossip. Conversely, you’ll remember that glorious moment 20 minutes before, when a hammered student nurse from Harlesden garbled out that you were ‘her best DJ in Richmond’ because you played Disclosure (again). What I’m saying is, the mind is the Big Daddy, the all-time don, of papering over scabrous, inconvenient truths. And this is literally the only reason I can see for DJs, promoters and clubbers suddenly thinking it’s OK to espouse right wing Tory bullshit.

I’ve noticed it all over my social media, like a soggy blue stain. It was bad enough to see people who are deeply involved in the dance music industry reposting goggle-eyed Daily Mail fantasies about asylum-seeking scroungers living in mansions made from ermine-trimmed caviar, whilst “hard working tax payers” have to live on dog shit and teabags, but when fun crusher Thatcher finally carked it there were actual, actual DJs (nameless, they can stay nameless) saying how she’d ‘saved Britain’ blah blah R U MENTAL?? blah.

Time for a history lesson. Here’s the gist: The Tory party and the right wing press have repeatedly tried to destroy rave culture in England. This isn’t the ranting of a liberal conspiracy theorist. I don’t wear a tin foil hat (on Tuesdays anyway), and I don’t think the Labour party are any more than an identical bunch of lizards equally desperate for power. However, no one in England has done as much to wilfully attack dance culture as the Conservatives, and the Conservative sympathising media, and that is a cold hard fact.

It started in the '80s, when the (second) Summer of Love essentially kicked off as a gurning apolitical love fest fuelled by an unbeatable combo of jaw-busting E and Marshall Jefferson records. The consensus is that the kids didn’t give a toss about who was in charge of the country, they just wanted to get together in fields and car parks, hug each other, and dance like the loose-limbed flower children of love.

Thatcher’s government saw this terrifying invasion of people being nice to each other whilst flailing about a bit, and decided —  like any sane group of pinch lipped hate-bots would — that it had to go. Questions were asked in parliament, and the police were used, as they had been against the miners, as a mini private army, kicking in raves and smacking heads in response to typically media-fuelled moral panic over ‘acid parties’. Look at any headlines from the right wing press at the time (The Sun: '10,00 DRUG CRAZED YOUTHS' etc…) and you’ll see a litany of crazed witch hunt stories generously scooped from a big bag of bullshit.  

But this is in the past you cry! We’ve moved on from suspicion and pointless brutality. Well, kinda. Skip forward a couple of years and you find those dastardly Tories knocking together the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 — a change to the law that specifically, surreally, targeted any gathering of 10 or more people that featured "sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats".

Yup. As English youth culture entered a golden age of productivity, insane Tory MPs, many of whom still hold positions in parliament — Iain Duncan Smith springs to mind — were voting to make raves illegal. Genius. As recently as 2009 this act was used to bust up some guy's barbecue. Honestly. Try and have a free party — even on your own land — and see what happens.

So it sticks the fuck in my throat when I see Sam Cam blithering on about how much she loves dance music. Maybe you think that we’re better off now that free parties have been killed in England, and maybe you think dance music is better served in overpriced, over-sponsored stadiums, where you jerk to overpriced plastic beats and gulp plastic cups of overpriced piss.

And maybe you believe the press when they cynically demonise sections of society (immigrants, the disabled, low wage earners, nurses, teachers, etc, etc) in the same way ravers were relentlessly demonised. But if you do, and you earn even the tiniest iota of pleasure or reward from dance music, you’re not just a hypocrite, you’re a fucking moron. Unfriend.