Archive for the ‘1994’ Category

Book Review: Exist To Resist by Matthew Smith

September 4, 2017


I’ve been waiting for the appearance of a book like this for decades. There’s hardly any published photographic record of the UK’s early 1990’s travelling, free party, free festival, and environmental protest scene, let alone books on the subject.*

Matthew Smith was actively involved in the scene he lovingly portrays. As the authorities started cracking down on travellers, ravers and dissenters of all sorts, the scenes became more inward-looking and more distrustful of mainstream media, cameras, and the people wielding them, whether professional or not. Insiders like Smith were thus in a position to record events in a way others couldn’t.

This long overdue volume of exciting photos that captures perfectly the feeling of being involved in protesting and partying in the early to mid 1990’s. It also covers some soundsystem-centred events from preceding years, like the Moss Side and Notting Hill Carnivals of 1989.

Some of the events photographed were pivotal. The Glastonbury Festival of 1989, for example, was “the year rave arrived at Glastonbury in a big way”. The first picture of the sequence is of a shirtless traveller toddler, with their home vehicle’s registration number and the field it was parked in scrawled on their chest. Behind the child is a tent with “DHSS World Tour” painted on it. This, together with the other images in the series, serves as an artefact of the pre-giant fence, pre-sanitised Glastonbury, an era when travellers were allowed in for free and police weren’t.

The excellent image on the cover is a fine example of the way Smith’s photography captures the energy of the protest movement while placing it in context. The roofs of The House of Commons loom through the heat haze. A truck, on top of which a woman dances and claps, is transporting a soundsystem up a busy street in central London. A man, leaning out of the truck with a microphone in one hand, gazes into the lens. It is unclear whether he’s driving, MC’ing, or both. The truck is framed by a row of police vans on the left and a cinema, showing Four Weddings And A Funeral, on the right.

I think I’m not alone in saying this: the Criminal Justice Act politicised me. Prior to the legislation, I simply wanted to rave, or help organise raves. The fact that these events were unlicensed couldn’t have interested me less. And in the period before the CJA, as long as no-one made any noise complaints, reasonable-sized parties were allowed to continue without much interference from the authorities. It wasn’t until the Criminal Justice Bill was actually on the cards that I personally realised I had to take to the streets, for the first time in my life, to try and prevent its passage through parliament. The day I was politicised constitutes the explosion that lies at the centre of Exist To Resist: the second anti-CJA demonstration in July 1994, which was characterised by thousands of ravers raving in the middle of the street in usually grey workaday Central London, grinning and dancing on the back of a truck as it drove past the Houses of Parliament, cavorting in the fountains and raving to a bicycle-powered soundsystem in Trafalgar Square. Politics was never so much fun, and Matthew Smith captures this sense of freedom and hope perfectly. Although it was mostly peaceful, the demo I attended didn’t pass without some unrest: as the parade made its way past Downing Street and some tried to force their way into the Prime Minister’s front garden. Smith suggests that there may have been agent provocateurs in the crowd. Whether this was the case or not, the resulting horse charge that my friends and I were caught up in was truly terrifying, preceded as it was by police threats to ‘sterilise the area’ if we didn’t move out of the way.

By the third march against the Criminal Justice Act, according to Smith, it was “too dangerous to not be wearing a police uniform” and it “felt like a harsh end to a beautiful dream”. The dream continues to be lived in a more low key fashion, but Smith’s wonderful images remind us of the moments when hope was brightest.


Order it here.




  • Alan Tash Lodge is one of my favourite photographers, indeed, the only one I knew about for many years, but he has never published a book of his own. Check out his site ’One Eye On The Road’ for some fantastic images. Alan Lodge was on site even before the birth of Acid House, and his intimate connection to the scenes and their people is evident from his images. In Molly Macindoe’s Out of Order, an honest and intimate portrait of the British warehouse party scene from 1997 to 2006, the photographer portrays a scene she was clearly a part of. It’s full of amazing photographs, but due to the period she covers it falls outside the period my blog is most interested in. Vinca Peterson’s No System portrays the continental European offshoot of the scene, covering the adventures of some of the British soundsystems after they took their noisy circuses to France and beyond. Again, not of direct interest to this site, but probably my favourite book on the travelling soundsystem scene. The book contains not just photographs, but also excerpts from Vinca Peterson’s diary.




Lazy House sound system

January 14, 2011

UPDATE: I just came across this article, apparently one of the old Lazy House crew now runs a cafe called ‘Lazy House’ in Thailand!

Deep cartel says:

Does anyone remember Lazy House? Classic house music free party crew based at a squat in Exmouth circa 1991-4 They had a very small rig but attracted huge crowds every weekend in the summer of 92. Parties were usually in Devon and they were at Smeatharpe. Dj`s: will, jonny t, aaron, Iain lazy Parties: Blackenstone Rock, Ashclyst Forrest, Chalice Wood, Woodbury Common, and many more Wow memories! I know the framed photo your thinking about and I know where it is now. Yeah it would`ve been mighty force and if I ask nicely I should be able to scan it, this was the first lazy party I attended. I`ve got two mixes, Lazy House vol 1, and Blackenstone Rock (bad quality). I also remember the backdrop which read lazy house-One Family. Diy dj`s often played and spawnee possee dj`s like Tigger and Justin. There is a brief account of a lazy house party with some pics on dj riddlers website. In 1993 a certain member of Lazy House wanted to be a dj so swapped the tiny rig for some decks.Some members of Lazy House including Will and Dom (spiral) and Lorien then formed “Sign On” and continued doing smaller parties throughout 93 which also evolved into Sketch (pawlette manor) . It`d be really nice to get a page up as they`re not anywhere on the web and they were some of the best parties of the time. By the way Smokescreen are still going! As are we and we sometimes have jonny t and will play in many of the same locations…. Dj will the simon dk of Lazy House…

Here’s a response from an anonymous contributor:

Thanks for the comment, deepcartel, I had been intending to write something about Lazy House. You’re dead right, absolutely classic parties :)The problem was, and this is a bit embarrassing, your parties were SO FUCKING GOOD, that my memories of them are a bit scatty.

I remember… forest clearings, great music, snowballs, a low canopy, shouting next to a river, our car having to be pushed through a ford ‘cos it broke down but we didn’t really care, leaning on my friends’ arm thinking it was a car window, massive convoys and meeting places, racing to get to the party site before the cops (I recall seeing a couple of guys sprinting across a field with decks shoved up their jumpers 🙂 )

etc etc.

I lived in Dorset at the time and didn’t drive, so I’d just clamber into someone’s car on a Saturday night and see what happened. I don’t know any of the locations of the parties I went to.

We enjoyed these because they were local, and because they were a welcome break from the facelessspiraltechno we’d all been following slavishly, although I have to say some people at the time HATED house music. The scene could be insular even back then.

The first thing I ever heard about Lazy House was when we visited a shop in Exeter (Mighty Force?) and saw a framed photo of a party. We asked the guy in the shop and he told us ‘Lazy House’.

UPDATE: Some dates that I do have a record of: 10/10/92 near Exeter, 8/5/93. Also an event on 8/11/92 called Upfront, where there were two marquees, one of which contained the Sketchy Crew sound system, full freepartypeople report here.

Mark (mharridge8787) says:I have a ‘Lazyhouse’ tape but I cant be sure of its origin. Its mostly late 80’s chicago house. I went to a party in a squat in Bloxham near Banbury, Warks on NYE 93/4 (i think) which I was told afterwards was a lazy house party… but having just learnt they were based in Exeter this seems unlikely. Was anybody there??

‘anonymous’ says:

Dutch Barrels/snow balls/china whites the strongest pills I`ve ever done. I`ve heard they were 140mg of mda made in a former eastern block country in ex government labs. Jaw chatter and eye wiggle for 12 hours…Also do you remember pcp and k pills called m25`s/crackerjacks/ lose it pills?

mistychelle says:

wow the memories,i share them too,anyone know where arrone(probably spelt wrong and ian smith think it was ,i had such a crush on arron). apres exmouth pavillion on to the lazy hose squat,fab,give anything to go back there for a night ..anyone have pics or mixes from those crazy nights???/ thanks to the lazy house crew for the memories i shall hold 4ever

Positive Sounds sound system

August 6, 2009

Just a quick post this time. Somehow I never came across the Positive Sounds soundsystem at the time, but I certainly heard about them later on, and I believe I saw the latest incarnation of their rig a few years ago at a snowboarding event (not 100% sure about this one).

However, I have hung around in Brighton, town of perpetual slackers/students/house parties/Ovingdean/Rottingdean beach parties/ reggae / Essential Festival etc etc, so I have a vague idea that Positive Sounds raves were really rather top 🙂

Today I stumbled across a link to this article on Positive Sounds and how they started:

on this blog:

(well worth a read, loads of relevant/interesting stuff on there).

Some old school mixes and tracks

February 27, 2009

These are all newish mixes using top tunes from the era this website covers. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do 🙂

This last one is on Tim Acid’s blog. he’s posted here before and his blog’s always got lots of good stuff on it.

Thanks a million to Ben for hooking me up with the DJ Producer oldskool mix, really enjoying it right now! Tracklist for this is out there somewhere. It’s apparently an Ableton mix and he’s sort of chopped up and layered all sorts of oldskool niceness together in a big hardcore rave flavoured sandwich. Yum.

Here it is:

Other mixes can be found by following the ‘mp3’ and ‘mixtape’ links on the right. If any of the links die please let me know and I’ll re-upload them ASAP.

At the time we used to say ‘hardcore you know the score’. We didn’t even really consider it a style of music, especially as you’d hear loads of different styles in one night and in one DJ’s set (you’d also hear a lot of influences/genres/styles in the space of one tune, which I guess is what hardcore is, by my definition anyway 😉 )

At Spirals parties techno started to play a larger part after a while. However,  I can remember hearing all sorts of styles on their rig, partly ‘cos they let ‘other’ DJ’s  on (e.g. chancers who just turned up with a record bag and said ‘can I play?’- for example an unknown but very good DJ from Dorset did this at Castlemorton), and partly because they weren’t (as lots of people seem to think) a finite entity with exactly (marketingspeak here I think!) 23 members. Bedlam were quite generous at letting guest DJ’s play, maybe even more than Spirals, I’m not 100% certain. If anyone can shed any light on this I’d be pleased to hear from you. I guess you’ve got to let other people on if you’re running a party for such extended periods of time 😛

In my rather faulty memory banks I can only connect a handful of specific tunes with a handful of specific parties. For instance at the Spirals do in Rhayader I remember Aphex Twin’s ‘Digeridoo’ and Urban Shakedown’s Some Justice’:

A commenter, Ben, had this to say on the subject of the tune above:  I cannot hear ‘Some Justice’ without thinking of Castlemorton. At some point on the Sunday night I walked a mile or so away from site in the pitch-dark to, ahem, clear my head a little as the Screaming Buddha’s had made everything a little too *intense*. After half an hour or so of just lying on my back staring at the stars the Ce-Ce Rogers vocal sample drifted lovingly through the air towards me, inspiring me to drag myself off of the floor, and back to the party.

Another contributor to this page clearly remembers Epitome of Hype’s ‘Ladies With An Attitude playing in the Circus Warp tent at Castlemorton. At the time he thought it was a DJ being clever with Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ (which the track samples) but since then he’s realised it was this:

At Happy Days Free Festival in Kerry I remember hearing DJ Aztek playing Brother From Another Planet’s ‘Planet Earth’.

Happy listening!

NYE 1994/95: Smokescreen ‘Old Skool’, Sheffield

June 7, 2007

Never went to any Smokescreen parties, didn’t actually get to hear about them until afterwards. From what I understand they were northern and fun and er… that’s about it. It’s worth mentioning that there were hundreds of crews up and down the country who put local parties on on a regular basis and never got any credit, and plenty of them didn’t even have a name.. I digress, here’s a report from Mharridge (who also contributed some other reports, thanks again Mharridge 🙂 )

New Years Eve again and the obligatory free party was in full effect. A nice little group of friends headed up the M1 in 2 or 3 cars towards Sheffield. Agtain the customary 12pm champagne stop was observed before heading into Sheffield City Centry – literally – where Smokescreen had aken charge of a squatted school for the night. After walking through the playground I felt somewhat responsible when no music was heard instead coming across a couple of young lads playing chess next to a little portable stereo in a doorway. Undeterred we persevered and lo and behold walking through the next doorway into the lunch hall I was hit with a wall of sound and colour. From that point on the next 8 hours were a total loss to me. The DJ’s were conveniently placed in the kitchen and were accessible through the food serving hatch Dhehe.
Smokescreen played there renowned bass heavy house dub and a great night was had by all. I don’t know where the drugs came from but they were certainly good – I had to be dragged away from getting a little too friendly with an older woman – thanks Woodie. As well as the main room there was a side room (I think) and various other rooms upstairs which I learnt a lot of my friends had retired to. We eventually left the party gone 8am as usual and I gingerly.. made my way back across the 45 degree playground to our parked car, slap bang in the middle of a residential housing estate. I later found out that about a week later the school was set alight before being vacated by its present occupants 😉

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