Acyde on clubbing

“It was about worshipping sound.” The creative force talks us through his most memorable nightlife moments.

From raves to church­es, accents to ges­tures, E8 to SE22, no Londoner’s sto­ry is the same. In our first series, Audio Sto­ries: Lon­don, we asked indi­vid­u­als from all walks of life to share an account of their city.

Nightlife is an intrin­sic part of London’s iden­ti­ty, thanks in many parts to the icon­ic clubs once dot­ted around the city. While many have closed – rest in peace Madame JoJo’s, Plas­tic Peo­ple, Turn­mills, Cable, The Asto­ria – they have each left a pro­found mark on the map. One man who knows a thing or two about club cul­ture is Acyde. Speak­ing on nightlife, he men­tions: It made us all realise that this club­bing thing we were all addict­ed to for so long wasn’t about just social­is­ing, or wear­ing the right clothes, or being in a room with the right peo­ple. It was about wor­ship­ping sound”. The cre­ative force’s mem­o­ries of his ear­ly days on the par­ty scene are a reminder that Lon­don has stood the test of time as one of the most colour­ful cities in the world when it comes to nightlife. Sure, the cur­rent state of it is ques­tion­able, but there’s no doubt that it still exists. Per­haps, it’s not as easy to find as it once was. Acyde talks us through his most mem­o­rable Lon­don nightlife moments, and how they have shaped him as a creative. 

Audio Tran­script:

It’s Acyde. The first most piv­otal moment of club­bing, right when it all con­nect­ed for me when I first start­ed going to uni­ver­si­ty and I went to a club called the Blue Note which exist­ed in Hox­ton square. I think it’s a restau­rant now. The first night I ever went to at the Blue Note was a par­ty called Dust­ed which was host­ed by Mo’Wax – a record label owned and curat­ed by a very young James Lavelle. They would go on to release records by the likes of DJ Shad­ow, DJ Crush, Atti­ca Blues. They were essen­tial­ly known and seen as a trip-hop label at the time, because there real­ly wasn’t a term to describe the gen­er­al music which sort of mixed and mashed hip hop beat with tech­no sounds. That club was where I met Fras­er Cook, Char­lie Dart, James Lavelle, and from going to that club, I start­ed going to the Blue Note reg­u­lar­ly and Met­al­headz was held there on a Sun­day, which was Goldie’s record label and night. 

From going to the Blue Note I migrat­ed to a place called Bar Rum­ba, which Shaftes­bury Avenue I believe was the address. It’s now prob­a­bly anoth­er restau­rant. Bar Rum­ba use to host a night called That’s How It Is on a Mon­day night which was James Lavelle, Gilles Peter­son, Ben Wilcox and var­i­ous guests. The band The Roots had a res­i­den­cy play­ing live there whilst they lived in Lon­don, whilst they record­ed their album. I met every­one in that night­club – Tricky, Björk – every­one, I think I even saw David Bowie in there once. 

We start­ed par­ty­ing in West Lon­don at a place called Sub­tera­nia. All the best hip hop nights – pure hip hop nights, safe pure hip hop nights – were all held at Sub­tera­nia. All the OG West Lon­don know who I’m talk­ing about. A great club, a great soundsys­tem, a great vibe. Some of the best hip hop con­certs. Black star, Mos Def and Tal­ib Kweli per­formed there with Com­pa­ny Flow way back in the day. But I will hop, skip and jump straight to Plas­tic Peo­ple. The last club of its kind for me, for a gen­er­a­tion. The club summed up every­thing about the last three clubs I named. It was the best sound sys­tem, pos­si­bly in Lon­don, maybe con­testably in the world for a club of its size. Built by our good friend Adé. It was also home to some of the most intel­li­gent and deep pre­sen­ta­tions of music on the plan­et. As some of your favourite DJs who every­one her­alds as like Oh super cool par­ty DJ,” played at Plas­tic Peo­ple once were told nev­er to come back. That’s how high the bar was set in that place. I saw J Dil­la DJing in there, I saw Madlib DJ in there. So many good mem­o­ries of that club, but the one thing was that it was a home for all of us. It was the final home in a lot of ways because it made us all realise that this club­bing thing we were all addict­ed to for so long wasn’t about just social­is­ing or wear­ing the right clothes or being in a room with the right peo­ple. It was about wor­ship­ping sound. With­out these peo­ple build­ing these spaces I prob­a­bly wouldn’t be here to tell these stories. 

My favourite mem­o­ry of club­bing is going all the way back to Met­al­headz, the drum and bass club curat­ed by Goldie, MCing my two favourite DJs at the time. They were called Kem­istry and Storm, two female DJs who worked at the label and DJed and were the only DJs on the drum and bass scene that real­ly made me look at drum and bass in a dif­fer­ent way because they were the two who would play across the board. They would play from jump up, rag­ga to kind of break beaty stuff to the deep techy stuff. They just moved across the board. But I clear­ly remem­ber DJ Kem­istry show­ing up one night with a record box – this was when peo­ple still need­ed to have records and dub­plates – and she was wear­ing what I can only describe as what seemed to be a Jean-Paul Gaulti­er ball-gown. Yeah, she pulled up to the drum and bass club in East Lon­don in what seemed to be a cou­ture style ball-gown and then she pro­ceed­ed to play and turn the place out. I will nev­er for­get that, sim­ply because visu­al­ly it still has an impact on me. 

Thank you for bear­ing with me and lis­ten­ing to my audio tale. Hope you enjoyed it. 

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