The world has many famous clubs and thousands of influential characters, but only the most iconic are inseparably linked. Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage, David Mancuso’s The Loft and Frankie Knuckles at The Warehouse are arguably the most well known. But as it celebrates its 30th birthday, Dave Beer’s Back To Basics deserves a special mention. Born on Saturday, 23rd November 1991 as a big fuck you to the increasingly commercial acid house scene, the party has retained its proud punk ethos for three complete decades.
“We thought it would last maybe six months,” says Dave Beer as he lights up a smoke. True to his ways, the Pontefract, West Yorkshire-born impresario was still in bed when DJ Mag arrived at his house at 2.30pm. “Sorry, I was up late painting,” he says, explaining that creating surrealist works of art has taken up ever more of his time in recent years.
A quick coffee perks him up. In no time, he’s regaling us with the sort of tales that will soon become a docufilm directed by Don Letts — one of Dave’s childhood heroes — and will be imminently documented in his long-awaited book, Excess All Areas. Of course, when you run a party whose motto is “two steps further than any other fucker”, you forget more stories than you remember. But there are still more than enough for 90 minutes of non-stop chat, including a recent one that involved Dave falling off his skateboard on the halfpipe in his garden, knocking his gold tooth out and seeing his dog eat it.
It’s impossible to tell the tale of Back To Basics without telling Dave’s own story. He was born to a working-class family, “but I’ve never actually worked, so I’m not sure what that makes me”. His mother was the first female referee on the World Championship snooker circuit. Back then in the ’80s, snooker was seriously rock ’n’ roll.