Wednesday, 9 July 2014

121 / speedcore / Dead by Dawn

I was there! Occasionally.

Dead by Dawn gets mentioned in a long crimethinc piece on squatting in the UK...

By the late 1990s, the 121 centre was running out of steam as Brixton began to gentrify around it—or so it seemed to us when we visited for meetings, although it did host the first Queeruption in 1998, and the monthly Dead by Dawn speedcore parties were great. In the 1980s, it had been extremely active as a cafĂ©, bookshop, library, venue, and rehearsal space. It was used as a base by groups such as Brixton Squatters Aid, Brixton Hunt Saboteurs, Food not Bombs, Community Resistance Against the Poll Tax, Anarchist Black Cross, the Direct Action Movement, London Socialist Film Co-op, the Kate Sharpley Library, and the Troops Out Movement. There was a printing press in the basement which produced the feminist magazine Bad Attitude, the anarchist magazine Black Flag, and the squatters’ newspaper Crowbar, among other publications.


This is a (hilariously late review of a) book about free tekno parties in the 1990s by Bert Random. It is set over the course of one night at a fictional Bristol party, which serves as a metonym for the free party scene as a whole.

Whilst I liked the book and thought it was fairly good at expressing the inexpressible pleasures of being on drugs at a rave, I also found it slightly embarrassing. These personal insights which you have on drugs mean a lot to the person concerned but otherwise tend to sound a bit facile. And the groups of mates with funny sounding names, whilst perfectly appropriate, also seems a bit of a cliche.

The illustrations interspersed throughout the text by five different artists (with pretty different styles) were .. ok.

Whilst Hunter S. Thompson is name-checked, this book isn't quite in that class. It's a good read, but Random doesn't pull meaning out of all the drugs experiences. And maybe that's becuase there isn't much to be found. Thompson got high in Vegas and wrote about the American psyche. Random took drugs in Bristol and wrote about feeling fucked. Yet I feel more could be said here. The act of people partying on industrial estates in derelict warehouses to drill-hard music does seem like it can be read as a statement on the way society is going, but that sort of stuff will have to wait for another book.

There's an interview with the author here which is more interesting..