The History and Context of Club Culture
"History is hard to know because of all the hired bullshit, but
even without being sure of history it seems entirely reasonable
that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes
to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really
understands at the time, and which never explain, in retrospect,
what really happened"
(Hunter.S.Thompson, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas")
The late 1980's saw the emergence of a hugely significant social
phenomenon. Rave culture (or club culture as it is now most commonly
referred to), is of massive appeal to many young people and statistics
by Mintel show that 15.7 million people in Britain go clubbing each
weekend (Mintel:1996). Clubbing has become a major cultural industry
and cities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester to name but a few,
all have well developed clubbing industries making a substantial
contribution to the local cities economy. Many cities have actively
pursued inner city regeneration programmes partially based on the
nighttime economy and attraction of clubbers (Malbon 1999:6).
Club culture has become a notable area of study for two main reasons.
Firstly because of the ever increasing scale of its appeal in modern
society, and secondly because of the largely negative social reaction
it has received from the media, police and the government. This led to
a major moral panic surrounding rave culture, with key debates
centring on the culture's relationship with the illegal drug ecstasy.
The fear was that this culture would encompass all youth; it therefore
constituted a threat to both the social and moral order of society.
Acid house music was marketed as 'one of the most controversial sounds
of 1988' set to outrage 'those who decry the glamorization of drug
culture'. (McRobbie and Thornton 1995:559). Cosgrove (1989) however
suggests that the press took some time to discover rave culture.
Collin (1997) suggests that when it was initially covered by 'The Sun'
in August 1988, reports were largely positive, endorsed as the latest
dance craze, with the paper even marketing its own smiley face logo
T-shirts. Hostility quickly ensued however after two deaths from
ecstasy in June and October followed by a police drugs raid on a boat
party in November. By September 1988 "the ritualised sequence of moral
panic - exaggerated press reports, misleading headlines, self
appointed moral spokesmen demanding action and weekend on weekend of
police raids - was unfolding" (Collin 1997:90). A Daily Mail editorial
(26th June 1989) claimed that "Acid House is a faÃ§ade for dealing in
drugs of the worst sort on a massive scale" and a "cynical attempt to
trap young people into drug dependency under the guise of friendly pop
music events". (cited in Collin 1997:97). However, as...