The day we found Acid

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The day we found Acid

Yesterday I came across these videos that someone had linked to on Google+ (thanks Michael Donaldson), classic footage from a bygone era that evokes such strong emotions I could sometimes shed a tear.. not poetic embellishment but total truth.

I was impelled to share them again, and add some words too. It kind of stems, coincidentally, from music I played on last night’s show and the talk it provoked. I may go off on several tangeants, I’ll try not to.
The following programme is from a documentary in 1988 that was aired on the TV. Many people will remember this and the classic commentary, I was tempted to extract some of it and use it in Croatia but it’s all been done before (what hasn’t ?) I wanted to say I hope it gives insight into that era, but after watching it, I don’t think it would for a lot of people outside of London. Despite being heavily into the Acid House scene from its conception I find it hard to relate to some of the characters in this video. While there is obvious similarities in the scene and movement, what we see here seems to be a bunch of middle class youths bearing no resemblance to the scene we had in the Midlands.
Anyway… I feel myself going off course.
The whole point in sharing this documentary again is to try to get some dialogue going. I’d love you to share this blog with your network and let’s see if we can get EVERYONE to write a few lines on key elements of their lives in 1988. Whether you were 5 years old and only remember the Thundercats or you were 21 and going to your local Ritzy… share your memories of this era below.
1988 for me, is a bit of a blur. I can’t pinpoint exactly the parties I was going to, I’m assuming it would have been the Hummingbird on a Friday night. If someone can remind me of some key nights or parties, I’ll be able to fill in the gaps.
Although I wasn’t to become a DJ for many years after, I WAS there from the very beginning of the Acid House movement. I only travelled to London to buy clothes and records, not to rave, so missed out on some of those classic nights. In my photo gallery there are photos of my Prestatyn Soul Weekender passes.. I distinctly remember one year going and many people in my crew where dabbling, six months later and the curiosity had gotten the better of me.
I remember my friends who I had used to go to Soul All-dayers with starting to make jokes about me being an “acid head” and while we remained close friends they never really got their head around the movement and we drifted apart as I delved deeper into the scene.
I’m sure I have talked about it before… It seemed that one week I was going the Dome dancing to some Joyce Simms, the next week I was sitting in the seats upstairs, hypnotised by the lasers (for some reason !!!?)
I could go on and on, and probably will another time… but this is all about you.. hit me with what you were doing in 1988.
(Take a look at this page dedicated to the scene in and around Birmingham)


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  1. I was 17 in 1988, living in Milton Keynes and still at school (just!).
    Musically I was still finding my feet, lots of chart music (Level 42, Depeche Mode, Erasure Etc.) and Kraftwerk we all there so when I first heard house music it made sense.
    But in truth the early first steps all passed me by except for the music that was in the charts.
    …Now if you had said 1989 then it would be a totally different story, thanks largely to Evil Eddie Richards and Picci who opened a record shop about 200 yards from my house, early Nu Groove/Sleeping Bag & plenty of Rave tunes entered my life and never left. The bug for fresh vinyl was developed!
    Its funny to think that for more than half my life I have been listening to “house” music in its various forms, maybe by missing a lot of the partying in 1988/89 is why its more about the music than anything else for me, meaning its not about being fashionable or cool, its just a love of the music that developed within regardless of what others around were doing (and still is).

  2. In 1988 I was living between Dublin and the Midlands. Wearing high waited or was it wasted trousers, baggy jumpers or t-shirts three sizes too big and far too much eye makeup with big hair.
    All be it I was working every day, I was partying most nights. Strange parties in high rise blocks or shared houses. Head down, eyes wide shut dancing, with people who I’d go on to know all my life and some I’d avoid for the same. Parties with a bass line that more often than not prompted a visit from the police and a timely toilet flush.
    I’m sure it was about the time we were about to discover that if we picked up a flyer, or phone number and waited in the ‘cool’ places we’d soon be on our way to a field or a disused building. Huge frightening looking men would take our money and then guard us as we and a few hundred others danced and sweated until dawn, heads up, eyes wide open and both hand in the air. Music played that every person knew and the entire crowd would be as one. (we were cool like that).
    We smiled a lot in the next year or so. We’d found Acid House or it had found us.
    The people I new were cool, (So I thought). They were part of it, and they knew the best tunes.
    We bought records and hair gel and my friends were the ones who knew where to go and what was going on. The lads at the time were ‘Dead hard’ (I thought they were) and the girls all in love and aiming to be cool. Everyone could dance.
    I still remember wishing I wasn’t scared, and some times, in amongst it all, I truly wasn’t.

  3. Well 1988 for me seems so far away I can hardly remember what I was doing. I do remember being caught between 2 musical era’s and travelling most weekends from Walsall where a group of us were dancing to Joyce Simms and SOS band in a club called City Slickers to Birmingham City centre to go and listen to the Smiths and The Cure in a club called Snobs! Every night was centred around socialising whether it be a week night or weekend and usually meant catching the bus from one house party to another or sitting in the local pub with a huge gang of friends, many of who I am still in contact with. Good times and before I even met my now husband! To be honest I was never very cool, just fitted in with the crowd and followed the leaders, sounds so unlike me now !! lol …

  4. Every now and then you write something which catches my eye – this is one of those pieces.
    What are my memories?
    Firstly, I’ve been up all night with my newborn son…the feeling of two hours sleep I have right now is one memory of those days….. creeping home at breakfast time and emerging from bed early afternoon.. shot to pieces.. kinda like now.
    One of my first nights out as part of this scene was in a field in Essex.. a friend of a friend had some derelict barns and they had two “rooms”.. one a flickering strobe light playing stuff like Carmina Burana (old spice theme) and Dance with the Devil…the other a Balearic room bathed in blue light playing more relaxed stuff like
    (Driving Away from Home) . A young Darren Emerson was dropping the tunes.
    Now this was pretty organised because the guy who owned the field was entrepreneurial but the beauty was that it was amateurish .. no bouncers..etc. It was so different from what I was used to , jazz funk / soul ( the ones the Wards mention plus LV, Maze etc) in a glitzy disco…lager fuelled punch up etc so was really exciting and refreshing
    Next memory is my parents saying are you really going out at 11pm .. and driving? and me saying “Yeah”. Then the following day inquisition when the party scene become notorious in the press.
    I also use the word party..I like to think of myself as pre rave… that was a press word.. I didn’t go raving.. I went out to a party!!
    In Jan89 me and two mates jetted of to Tenerife for a weeks winter sun.. not that we saw any of it… waking up about 5pm for breakfast…dozing until midnight and out we went – full on . The last night being up in the mountains in a green leaf dome which by day was a centre of ecology or some such .. by night a trippy green circle to bounce around in … the weirdest thing being the coaches that took us back to town in the morning also brought the first pensioner tourists for the day.. so quite an interesting swap over :O)
    I think that year we also went to Sunrise in a field in Berkshire.. which was kind of the end for me of the underground aspect. This was 20,000 people .. fairground rides.. Doug Lazy letting it roll … which was great but now becoming big business.. i.e. the middle class youths. This night did have another stand out one for me though.. lovely sunny Sunday morning.. Strings of Life coming on and the whole crowd politely applauding it on the piano intro.. before going mental :O)
    Lets be honest it wasn’t all about the music.. it was popping a few and getting off your face.. they went hand in hand so sweetly..great days but consigned to the past now – never to be repeated in my view even if people try to recreate it .. the buzz the energy the feeling.. not sure it can be done again.
    I guess like many people I collected loads of vinyl from those days which I dust out and reminisce with.. stuff like..
    R U Ready For This, Dreams of Santa Anna, Night Moves, I’m In Love (Sha-Lor), Who’s Gonna Ease The Pressure, Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out……..happy days indeed.

  5. We moved up from London to Northamptonshire in August 1988, my shitty warehouse job offered me the transfer after they found all the previous employees were stealing more than they were packing for the retail outlets. The company was Astral Sports a long defunct retailer, I worked in their Army & Navy Victoria High Street concession in a basement.
    I was still riding my Honda VF750F then moving to the “countryside” was an adventure and Jules and I had been at my mums for about a year, having our own place somewhere we could afford and beer at such low prices was excellent. Little did we realise the house prices would plummet and we would be in negative equity for the next 10 years paying mortgage interest at 17%.
    Musically we were still into rock and after joining Four Aces MCC (not a back patch club they are MC)I bought some citronic decks and a mixer all in a flight case and spent 5 or more years playing biker parties…classic rock and blues.
    I missed London a lot back then the music scene especially, we did still go to summer festivals as I have a friend who is the PA to a booking agent in London she got us free passes etc we even took our daughter as a baby – Phoenix Festival, Reading and Eclipse a baby in a pappoose is a girl magnet hahaha

  6. I had just finished college but be heavily in to the acid house scene since 1986 when i left school.Maurice my mate was in a band called Adrenalin MOD(Masters of Dance) who where signed to MCA, and they had a track released. and we where knocking about with Carl Craig and Derrick May ….Surreal to think about it now,can remember the main clubs we went to like Spectum and Shoom,Yikes but mostly a blur,Out most nights but still finding tunes now that rock my world back then..was a really exciting time was only 17 and wouldnt change t for the world remember wearing diffrent converse oots on each feet with the ripped 501 and baggy stripped tops and Alan Driffill driving round London at 2.ooam to find out where the PARTY Was(this is when clubs shut at 2)…The Good Ol Days!!!!

  7. Andy, in Birmingham 88, yeah hummingbird which had snapper and kipper club, martin red fridays with micky rose and the bear, 49ers, roccoco at towerball room, notes bar started getting good then too, various warehouse parties like lord lucans, there was that big warehouse party thing up holloway head, hypnosis at hummingbird which was proper acid night mid week was the best for acid house, liked some of the acid sounds they had at handsworth carnival, also played a bit in edwards 8 and powerhouse too, west end bar, sinattras all had a dable willy’s tea pot, but acid was played amongst other forms of house/raregroove in these days except hypnosis which was 100% aceeed!

  8. I would have been flogging cars at Bristol St Motors in Brum racking it in at the time, Loads A Money !!
    I always did well in the 80,s living the life of excess champagne shopping at Nicholls & Max in Brum wearing all the Miami vice style gear & hanging out at the Bel Air, Bobby Browns ( top room was best with the DJ Chris the Greek ) & Brannigans on a Sunday was always good we were well into our Luther & Teddy, Maze etc & one night i remember Bobbys being invaded by a group of lads wearing bandanas & t shirts they may have been posers but we all remember thinking where are you jackets & ties you tramps lol !
    It turned out that one of those guys was Madders Madden if any of you remember him he went on to promoting such things as Sundissential wonder where he is now hope he is still alive as he did tend to live out on the edge :).
    The acid scene kind of passed me by if i am honest remember D Mob though lol !


  10. In 1988 me and my brother joc had just left school and had started listening to early chicago house like Marshall Jefferson and Mr fingers. One night in early 89 maybe late 88 we came back from the pub (yep underage drinking was rife back then) someone said “i think the hitman and her is on” We put the television on and the hitman and her was indeed on but instead of being from some shitey cheeseball nightclub playin rick astley and sinita it was live from the hacienda in manchester. A very wired michaela strachan was trying to keep it together as mike pickering and Graeme park were blasting out a guy called gerald, kraftwerk, maurice and loads of acid house tracks. we were absolutely transfixed, everyone was going crazy and we had never seen anything like it. scribbling notes down of all the records that they were playing and in the coming months at 23rd precinct in glasgow i think we had bought almost every record they played that night at 23rd precinct in glasgow. 1989 was all about the start of ayr pavillion, we were growing up as the music was evolving and it became THE most important thing in our lives for a vwery long time.

  11. 1988 the start of something special for me personally as that was the year I got my first set of decks, unfortunatly they werent Technics but a Citronic all in one disco unit (it was a start and they did have pitch controls). I think the eye opener for me was end of 87 hearing ‘M/A/R/R/S – Pump up the volume’ although technically that wasnt really an acid house tune.. other tracks followed like ‘Bomb the bass – Beat dis’ and ‘La Mix – Check this out’ These tunes were all made from other tunes, that is what got my attention as recognising little soul funk and hip hop samples in them. But it wasnt until very early Summer 1988 and when I heard ‘S Express – Theme from S Express’ that was the big eye opener… the song was faster than the previous mentioned tunes, it had a repetitive looped sample, bits of vocal but not a whole song, strange noises and had a new kind of energy behind it. After hearing that track (and remember this went number 1 in the uk charts) so many more tunes followed like ‘Royal house – can u party’ / ‘Jolly Roger – Acid man’ / ‘Inner City – Big fun’ after hearing and buying all these tunes it pushed me to look more deeper in the record stores and thank god it did as the following year 1989 was probably one of my favourite periods in House music for me. I was 13 years old in 1988 and far too young to go out to any events, this wouldnt happen until I was 15/16 a couple of years later. I am trully gutted I never went to any of the big parties from 88 / 89 but my main memories from that era are tuning into pirate radio stations such as ‘Joy Radio’ / ‘Sunrise FM’ / ‘Centreforce’ and trying to track down all the tunes I used to hear on these stations. Reading about Acid parties in The Sun and wanting to go to them!! Wearing an ‘ACIEEEEED’ smiley face t shirt with the words “Enjoy this trip” on it. Happy days 🙂
    Im so happy to have been into this music back in 1988, I dont think I ever thought that nearly 25 years later I would still be listening to songs from that era and still be smiling about them when I heard them.
    As Mr Fingers asked us all “Can You Feel It??” ….answer.. Yes we can 😉

  12. I was lucky enough to be working and living in London in 88 and through the 90s. A warehouse + smoke machine + strobe = Acid House party!!
    Places to remember were Camden Palace on Friday nights, Spectrum and Land of Oz on Monday nights at Heaven, The Car Wash at London Bridge (not to be confused with the 70s parties of the same name) Shoom at the Fitness Centre, Clink Street, Love at the WAG and numerous warehouse parties… Genesis, Livewire, Sunrise, Energy, Biology…. seemed to be something bigger and better every weekend. Nothing will ever match that time – it was something special. Aciiiiieeeeed 🙂

  13. For me, the years 1987-1990 were SO explosive culturally. I was living in the Midwest USA: removed from all club culture but reading and buying and listening to everything I possibly could. Absorbing it all through media-osmosis (I shunned Rolling Stone but religiously followed NME: that says it all really). To this day when I meet up with someone British who was delightfully damaged by those years…. I relate.
    The music created a bond that reached far and wide. For me the music WAS the drug. It WAS that powerful, that stimulating, that intoxicating. What I think should be noted of those years is the simple fact that some of the most unlikely persons, cultures and worldviews all seemed to come together around the house music scene.
    There is one word that sums it all up, and it is indeed one of my fave words ever: Possibility.

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