Category Archives: raves

Roni Size / Reprazent New Forms Turns 20

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20 years ago on this day, June 23rd 1997, seminal album New Forms was released by U.K. drum and bass producer Roni Size and Reprazent, a collective of artistes including Onallee, DJ Krust, Suv, Die and Dynamite MC. The successful mashup of spaced out jazz with hip-hop infused drum and bass earned Size/Reprazent the Mercury Prize in 1997 and heavy hitter status during the 90’s rave era.

I happened upon this album sometime in 1998. “Brown Paper Bag” happened to be playing on a T.V. where I worked and I was hooked. To top it off, the video was shot in Toronto! An extended intro featuring a double bass doing a seductive number with a flirty guitar, like a conversation leading back to bass place…that conversation par excellence helped that song become a bonafide hit. At first I got the single C.D. but later acquired the double disc. And that, in and of itself, was a revelation.

From the head-bopping infectious rhyming of Dynamite MC on “Railing” to the digital staccato burst of “Morse Code”  this mind-blowing album took me on a joyride through superlatively rich soundscapes. “Share The Fall” featuring Onallee’s éclair whipped vocals became a classic DnB anthem. American MC Bahamadia’s hypnotic heist on “Feeling So High” left heads speechless. Clearly, this maverick collaboration was a critical and commercial success. Roni Size graced the cover of several music magazines, somewhat overshadowing the Reprazent crew. Heck, I even saw Size spin at a rave in Toronto (he’d shorn the locks, I was disappointed! His set satisfied me though :).

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Roni Size / Reprazent

It’s fair to say that if you have not heard Disc 2 of New Forms, you are truly missing out. If you listen carefully, it becomes evident that water plays a predominant part in the production. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that Roni Size is Scorpio, a water sign. Moody and playfully mellow, “Down” is anything but. I felt like a leaf, meandering down a burbling brook on an overcast day as the water swirled around me. Skillful breakbeats layered with jazzy instrumentals, strategic looping and clever phasing give this double album an atmospheric feel that is unparalleled. It is full of textures, ranging from mysteriously edgy to effervescent. I love playing it on a rainy day as it amplifies that warm cozy feeling that makes me glad to be indoors with a hot cuppa tea, getting a proper rinsing!

20 years later, I still listen to New Forms. It sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Sure, I have bigger concerns than getting a fresh pair of cargos for the next rave but you know what? It just makes me all the more thankful that I had this amazing experience. Oh, and “Hot Stuff” is going off in the background, which brings to mind supers and laying down in bed, admiring my silver tone bubble chair and my Liquid Adrenaline poster which I will never forgive my mother for accidentally throwing out.

I could go on and on about the cool sound effects on each track like the windchimes on “Ballet Dance” but I suggest you discover this brilliant gem of an album yourself. Or revisit it from a mature perspective. There is much to love and appreciate about New Forms as we evolve over time.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

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All Gender Bathrooms At Raves

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Gender neutral bathrooms are a hot topic. In recent times they have been popping up in public and private facilities and their popularity is increasing. Laws were recently passed in America allowing school children and people to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender as opposed to their sex. These tentative steps toward gender parity are now in danger of being overturned by a regressive administration intent on fostering division and discord instead of peace and unity.

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s refreshing to know that in the 90’s rave era, washrooms (women’s in particular) became gender neutral during peak periods. For argument’s sake, let’s call this spontaneous occurrence AGBAR – this blogpost title in acronym form. When there are thousands of people rushing all at once and they need to pee (sometimes ALL at once), it truly doesn’t matter which friggin bathroom you decide to use. It was not unusual to see guys and trannies traipsing into the girl’s washroom and vice versa. Men actually preferred ours because they said it was cleaner. “Girls are so lucky! You don’t know what we have to put up with!”, a male raver once CONfessed as he washed his hands next to yours truly. Let me emphasize that at no time did I ever feel unsafe when men and transgendered folks needed to use the ladies’ washroom at a rave. Security was well aware of the situation but I never saw them intervene. AGBAR was in full effect, and although there may have been unpleasant incidents, neither myself nor anyone I knew ever heard of or witnessed them. Ecstasy is reputed to have a neutralizing effect on baser instincts that lead to violence. With everyone feeling all loved up and rushy-rushy, I’m sure the number 1 concern for ravers of all genders using the toilet was to make sure their pants or skirt was really down so as not to piss or crap all over it. Lord knows I’ve had a couple of close calls – can you say ECSTAPEE OH YEAHHHH!!!!

World renowned dance club Fabric London had gender neutral toilets that were conspicuously monitored by security personnel. Hilarious conversations would transpire around the circular sink fountain as guys and girls washed their hands together in peace, all gung ho for AGBAR and the great spirit of togetherness fostered by that overwhelming need to relieve that plagues all genders, all sexes, all nations! And we behaved like civilized beings.

For a dance culture movement that has been much maligned by politicians and mainstream media, it’s funny that ravers helped pioneer a successful social experiment in gender inclusivity, well ahead of the curve. Outside of that peace loving party atmosphere, the reality of rape culture society sets in, making the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph unthinkable in everyday circumstance. Despite the fact that ravers in the 90’s were often perceived as dirty, drug addled degenerates, I was never sexually assaulted at a rave. Not even when I wandered for hours in a sea of Ecstaticans after being separated from my friends. People were so kind, respectful, and they looked out for you. Hopefully one day, stone cold sober society will catch up to where we were. And remember to wash up on the way out.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Rave Reviews: Fabric London

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 Located at 77A Charterhouse Street in Farringdon, Fabric is a force to be reckoned with. After all, how many clubs do you know of that boasts a 24 hour drinking license? Things can get mighty hectic on a Friday night, especially when super heavyweights such as DJ Hype, LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad, Goldie, Fabio and Pascal hold court over hundreds of screaming ravers at weekly soundclashes. Techno -house rules the roost on Saturdays where special guests like Adam Beyer, Mark Farina, Magda and more preside over the decks. Saturdays can be good; however, it can sometimes be hit and miss with an occasionally mediocre lineup and sparse crowds. Quite frankly, Stacey Pullen and Brendon Moeller were the only ones that prevented me from abandoning ship prematurely during my last techno night in August of 2011.

Mayhem at Fabric in Room 1

 Fabric is renowned for its stellar roster of international talent, featuring a mixture of well established acts and blossoming newcomers. Craig Richards as resident DJ and program director ensures the lineup remains fresh while staying true to its classic roots, alongside fellow resident Terry Francis. Founded by Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie in 1999, the club has somehow managed to survive the  recession – thank heavens! During my time in London, this erstwhile edifice was a mecca of sorts for lovers of underground music. Fabric was the name on virtually every clubber’s lips, spoken with a kind of whispered reverence. People’s eyes literally glazed over when they mentioned the F-word, as if slipping into some kind of euphoric trance. Free entry wristbands were frequently distributed outside of 93 Feet East on a Sunday night for the lucky souls who didn’t have to work Monday morning. Of course, I wanted to know what the fuss was about so I ventured down one Friday night to find out. 

Ever the resourceful clubber, I bought my ticket online to avoid getting stuck in the queue. Actually, my ex-boyfriend was generous enough to buy it for me! Cost: £19.50. I must admit I was impressed by the pristine layout of Fabric’s website. They’ve got student discount rates, a fabricfirst membership option with tempting perks such as free mix cd’s and line bypass privileges. A monthly calendar of events proudly displays all the luminaries in attendance so pilgrims can plan their next outing in advance. Already, an impression had been made: Fabric was geared towards providing the ultimate party experience by engaging their audience on multiple levels through their website. I believe that’s called clever marketing.

I arrived just before midnight. Other peeps planned to get down there around 4 am for the half price special, but I wasn’t having that. No sirree Bob, I wanted the whole shebang from the get-go! With printed voucher in hand, I was waved through the advance ticket line faster than floral bacteria in a sheep’s digestive tract. Once inside, I was cordially greeted by a female bouncer. She proceeded to check my purse and frisk me silly. A guy bouncer struck up a friendly conversation (well, flirty was more like it) and advised me to have a good time. Have a good time. Did I hear right? Bouncers that actually smile and say “Good night?” Every last one of them! I didn’t know what kind of alternate universe I’d fallen into, but I was definitely feeling this. The coatcheck was located up a winding staircase to my left. I braced myself for what I thought would be extortionary rates (£5 at least) at this first rate venue, but was amazed to discover it was only a measly £1. I experienced immense gratitude for the respect management showed towards patrons by not insulting our intelligence with jacked up coatcheck fees – unlike many other clubs.

The highly organized security team kept traffic flowing smoothly by directing everyone downstairs as soon

Fabric holds a 24 hr. drinking license…rahtid!

as we’d finished up with the coatcheck and digital ticket scans. It was obvious Fabric ran a tight ship. Blagging odds: 1 in 10,000. Damn….anyways, I ventured into the cavernous depths of this nocturnal beast to Room 1 or should I say, Portal 1 where Hype was mashing tings up large. After all these years, Da Big Dog was still on top of his game, sending the next generation of 20 something junglists off their heads. Room 1 was a hot, steaming jungle of pure mayhem. Heat was damn nigh unbearable but  shit was insane up in here! Frankenräver was forced to strip down to her bikini top (yes, I came prepared). A virtual moshpit had metastasized on the dance floor, with ravers gleefully pushing against one another. The floor was so wet that people slipped and fell down – if there was enough room to fall. Room 1 was jampacked to the nines. Despite the absence of ol skool whistlecrews, this screaming crowd of euroravers compensated for it with sheer enthusiasm. What I found especially fascinating was the semi-ravey atmosphere of what many would consider a commercial club. There was more than a smidgen of underground flavour here that harked back to the good ol daze of yore; hi-5’s, non-intrusive security, random conversations and guys decent enough to buy you a drink – and drinks at Fabric ain’t cheap either. I must admit I had not encountered this kind of friendly social vibe at a club anywhere in a long time… 

Upstairs afforded a different perspective on the action where one could look down at the dancefloor and trip out on vortex style lasers. At the back of Room 1 was a stage facing the DJ booth on the opposite end. It was occupied by mostly shirtless, sweaty guys who decided to brave the sweltering heat and strut their stuff. More power to them. I only lasted about 3 minutes before I had to come down – or risk passing out from the intensity.

Room 3 was a tiny antechamber with not much in the way of excitement going on as a lesser known DJ was spinning here. It’s easy to lose your sense of direction in this place – Fabric is fucking huge (for a nightclub that is) with a capacity of 1800. Even the toilets are a trip; unisex, clean, and well attended by security. The communal handwashing fountain provided interesting opportunities to bond with fellow ravers. And bond I must for I’d received a text from my friend saying the line-up was thick outside and he couldn’t get in. Oh well… Pascal, Zinc and Fabio rounded things off beautifully, dropping dirty ol skool gems in da mix. Fabric has state of the art soundsystems installed in each room, including the bodysonic vibrating dancefloor in Room 1. Honestly, I didn’t notice any vibration in the midst of all the ruckus going on in there, but I thought it’s worth mentioning anyway. 

Nevermind the bodysonics; there was one man that I had journeyed here especially to see. A drum and bass maverick that I had somehow managed to miss during the 90’s and I simply could not live with myself until I had seen him in action. At 5 am, this phenomenal High Priest took to the stage after Hype, Fabio and others paid their respects to the legendary master with honorary 5 minute guest spots. What can I say? It was absolute heaven as LTJ Bukem ripped shit up tremendously on the decks with flawless mixing, augmented by skillfully woven melodies on the verge of transcendence. Ravers screamed their heads off and demanded more, more, MORE! Danny Williamson continued to dish it out, track after track after track, killing us all with fantastically resonant sub-lows. The energy flowed pure and true from his superbly gifted hands. Bukem was cool as a cucumber, smiling beatifically while MC Conrad played off rhythms with the confident skill of a seasoned veteran.

“It’s like a dream come true!” gushed an Italian raver who’d befriended me. He came especially to see Bukem too. “What’s he doing in Room 2? LTJ Bukem is a star – he should be in Room 1,” the Italian opined. I had to agree, though LTJ seemed right at home in his present location. It seemed as if nothing could faze this dude. He was totally in his element. Supreme confidence is naturally alluring, so I went to the front of the stage to get a gander. LTJ looked so handsome in his trademark tinted visor, charming smile and flat cap. Heck, even his arms were buffed! Bukem exuded a gentle, charismatic vibe all his own. I felt blessed for having such ravishing eye candy in addition to the spectacular aural stimulation I was receiving. Bonus! Damn it Danny, I think I’m in love! 

The Celestial Boomfest ended around 8 am when we shuffled out into a gorgeous Saturday morning. From the moment I entered Fabric, I did not sit down. The music was far too brilliant to waste precious time that could be spent transcending the boundaries of material existence. I was completely energized and bouncing off the walls on nothing but pure energy. Upon arriving home, I raved to my flatmates about how wondrous the night was and how they missed out. At 9 am, I was still trying to settle down so I could get some sleep. With its relaxed, übercool atmosphere, Fabric is a haven for the Spirit of Rave in a post 90’s party world and an absolute must for any raver visiting London. It is more than just another concept club – it’s an experience.

 Check out Fabric’s jaw dropping roster here: www.fabriclondon.com

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.