LOVE DECADE - the biggest mass arrest in UK history

Welcome to Old Skool Anthems
The Old Skool Resource. Since 1998.
Join now

Barrie Jay

Active member
Jul 20, 2003
1,607
3
38
64
Fleetwood - twinned with Royston Vasey
July 21st 1990- 836 ravers are arrested & detained at the Love Decade party held at Gildersome in Yorkshire. This remains one of the biggest mass arrests in British history. Only 8 are actually charged with anything!

I was there - sued the police and got 2000 sobs for some out of control PC Meathead twatting me across my head for no reason whatsover.

Anybody else there witness this complete and utter police fuck-up?

Can you believe this was 19 years ago??
 

Barrie Jay

Active member
Jul 20, 2003
1,607
3
38
64
Fleetwood - twinned with Royston Vasey
Didn`t hurt that much as I had eaten far too much anaesthetic, lol - quite funny watching everybody neck whatever they had once they knew it was all going to end in tears.

The compensation thing was a bit odd.

I decided to sue the bastards just to cause as much hassle as I possibly could. Getting paid off was a bonus.

Turns out that my Solicitor found 4 other similar cases and three were from Fleetwood and one nearby I recall. Glad we decided to fight back.

The enquiry was a bit of whitewash - carried out internally by the Police themselves. In those days riot Police had no identification other than a code from the unit they were from on their helmets. How the fuck are you supposed to identify someone from a bunch all dressed the same hiding behind face masks? To my knowledge not one copper was charged and although I would not defend the action of a few out of control idiots leading more than a few revellers into behaving like a mob, the actions and reactions of the police were outrageous. I witnessed one of the girls from Fleetwood being hit several times very hard with a truncheon.

The charges they threatened us with and reason for locking us all up - a breach of the peace.

Err.......you fucking dumbwits we were in a warehouse on a trading estate miles from anywhere. Just whose peace were we disturbing?

I am unsure about the 8 charges and would like more information on that. I have done a bit of searching on the net and not come up with anything worthwhile. If anybody knows where there is any additional information please post the links.

Someone someday should make a documentary about this.
 

Barrie Jay

Active member
Jul 20, 2003
1,607
3
38
64
Fleetwood - twinned with Royston Vasey
Cheers for that.

Interesting read and seems to be common copyright. Copied the content below.

Dangerous Dancing and Disco Riots
(Originally published in DIY Culture, ed. George McKay, Verso, 1998)

Drew Hemment


The Northern Warehouse Parties - Dangerous Dancing and Disco Riots (2005 edit)

"no matter how many draughts of forbidden wine we drink,
we will carry this raging thirst into eternity."
- Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone

My last memory of a Blackburn party is of an attempt at storming a police station to regain a seized PA. We had followed the convoy for over an hour along motorways and down leafy country lanes to our warehouse destination only to find the PA truck had been stopped by a routine police check and the PA impounded. The driver told us that it was being held in a small village police station a few miles away and this information spread like a virus through the crowd - which then set off marching towards the police station, like a carnival winding its way through the deserted rural lanes, music pumping from car stereos and people dancing and shouting on top of the cars. There was no plan to this spontaneous act of unity and resolve, however, and when the procession arrived at the police station the momentum was broken on its walls. These were people on a mission, but without deadly intent. Radicalised by a winter of confrontation, some people started throwing missiles, but others in the crowd tried to stop them, and many more just stood around or shouted. At one point a police officer on duty in the station opened the door and rushed out to try to grab someone who had strayed up close. But upon emerging he was stopped short by the sight of the mass of people at his gates. After a second's pause as both sides stood frozen in time the crowd surged forward and the policeman darted back inside, just managing to slam the door behind before being overwhelmed. A hail of missiles followed. With iron bars covering all the windows, that fleeting chance turned out to be the only opportunity there was. Pretty soon it became clear that it was futile, and, anticipating what was to come, people started exchanging clothes in order to confound any later identification. Within twenty minutes they arrived. Half a dozen riot vans driven at speed into the middle of the crowd. The back doors were flung open and squads of riot cops poured out . . . . . . .(1)

This story, dating from 1990, has it all. But what happened to the party? And where did the party heads run when the battle lines where drawn - underground, overground, or somewhere even more secret between the two which has yet to be mapped?


"High on Hope"

we fought the law
but who won?

During the 1980s the North West of England was better known for its decaying industries than its night life, but between 1989 and 1991 it saw some intense and sustained disco debauchery as the otherwise unremarkable town of Blackburn became the epicentre of a DIY party movement that would inspire two of the UK's most successful clubs, Cream and Back to Basics, culminate in a series of large scale riots and the arrest of 836 people at a single party, and play host over a two year period to a series of large-scale underground parties that were in many ways rave culture's Woodstock.

The warehouse parties took place at the juncture before the unruly excesses of acid house had developed into a dance scene with global pretensions and mass appeal. Arising before any coherent ideology had coalesced around dance culture, and before its commercial viability had been ascertained, they are both a seminal moment in this history and a microcosm existing on their own terms. Here I look into the rise and fall of the infamous Blackburn parties. I then look for their legacy in an unexpected place by considering the ART LAB, a dance and art collective that arose four years later just down the road in Preston. What they shared was the sense of unlimited potential that always accompanies a step into the unknown, and the effort - against adversity - to make art out of life rather than just marking time.

Fuelled by amplified noise, repetitive beats, relentless rhythms, alien soundscapes, police chases, drugs and late nights, the warehouse experience was something never before seen. The electronic dance culture that had taken root in Manchester's Hacienda fed a rave culture had started with the yuppie economics and laissez-faire lifestyle of the London orbital raves and that had swept like a tidal wave across the country. This struck a chord with the disinvested bodies of the post-industrial wastelands who had been abandoned by Thatcherite policies and forgotten by global economic trends. Barriers between races and classes were (at least momentarily) broken down, a generation of football hooligans tuned in and chilled out, and the inner city underclasses broke out of the ghettos and discovered a new world of potential and release. At the vortex of the storm was Blackburn. The town was renamed Boomtown and took on the feel of an independent state existing in the psychedelic imaginations of the people involved and on the graffiti'd motorways signs on the convoy routes. An immense amount of creative and psychic energy was unleashed by the parties, and the expression 'its grim up north' was invested with a new meaning and came to signify the perversely positive pathos of the times.

Music has long been used as a signifier of regional identity in the North West of England - from Mersey Beat and the Beatles, through Northern Soul and the punk of the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, and the Fall's The North Will Rise Again, to indie bands such as the Stone Roses and Oasis. At the time of the warehouse parties Manchester in particular was witnessing a cultural renaissance, reinventing itself as 'Madchester' and selling the indie-dance sounds and narcotic lifestyles of bands such as the Happy Mondays to the world. Manchester played a pivotal role in the development of dance culture. The Hacienda did more than any other club in Britain to cultivate the house sound, and tracks such as 808 State's Pacific State and A Guy Called Gerald's Voodoo Ray - both originating from Manchester - are among the most sublime moments in UK dance music. But the Blackburn parties arose at a distance from the regional centre of Manchester. They were simultaneously fiercely local and cosmopolitan, as people from all corners of the country came together and danced to the exoticism of imported sounds and incipient musical styles. The way these sounds were played and received - especially the do or die attitude - created a feeling of cultural empowerment and a unique sense of place.

An obvious precursor to the warehouse parties was seventies Northern Soul. Inspiring a passionate following, the Northern Soul 'all-nighters' were characterised by an obsession with obscure black American soul records, frenetic dancing, and night-shifts that could last an entire weekend. As with dance culture, it was the experience of moving to and being moved by the music plus the pharmaceuticals du jour that was important, rather than alcohol or sexual conquest. What was to become a national dance phenomenon had its roots firmly in England's North West, and it was only down the road from Blackburn and Preston that Wigan Casino became its focal point. People would travel vast distances to get there, and once inside they were free to dress and act how they liked, whether they wanted to dance on the tables or get a bit of sleep on the floor: 'At the Casino anything went .... A party of blokes could literally have turned up in their underpants and gained admission as long as they had membership cards.'(2) There are many similarities with the warehouse parties, such as the long pilgrimages, the centrality of dance, and the importance of the musical output of post-Fordist Detroit - although whereas Berry Gordy Jr at Motown attempted to construct a new (mass produced) reality for black Americans, Detroit techno artists faced with the intransigence of structural racism were more concerned with mapping (aleatory) routes out of the everyday. Northern Soul was also deeply underground: there was not the spontaneous, open communal organisation that characterised the early dance scene, and yet it was based on local networks of participants and was spread by small, independent record shops. The difference is that it remained underground because of its conscious quest for the subcultural capital of rare tracks that no-one else possessed. Whilst Northern Soul looked backwards to the past in its quest for 'new' sounds, the postmodernism of house preferred pastiche to nostalgia, combining fragments old and new into its potent sonic cocktail.(3)


Disco Damnation

The Northwestern party scene took its cue from the ecstatic highs and musical adventures of the Hacienda in Manchester, but it was with outdoor parties such as Live the Dream and Joy that it really took off. However these legal parties held in marquees were easily identified and stopped by a police force wary of potential noise and nuisance. This set the scene for what was to follow - the explosion of illegal, underground warehouse parties that abandoned the bureaucratic structure of licenses and health and safety regulations, and instead sought spaces where the penetrating gaze of the law could not reach.(4) Following the arteries of the motorway network, the inner city breakout found and reclaimed the spaces abandoned by the tide of industrial decline. Left standing empty and unused, derelict factories and brand new prefabricated warehouses alike provided the perfect venues for the party phenomenon that could appear out of no-where and vanish without trace in its effort to outwit the police.

By adopting their typically confrontational stance, all the police achieved - initially at least - was to pour fuel on the fire they sought to control.(5) As a result, a culture of criminality and violence developed within a cultural space dedicated to music and dance that was initially peaceful and non-violent. Indeed, Blackburn is one of the rare instances in which crime itself has been raised to the status of an art form.

Equipment was supplied by an ever expanding cottage industry of thieves and audio technicians.(6) On the night this would be taken to the warehouse shortly before the party was due to start. Then the convoy would be led there - driving through road blocks, the wrong way down motorways, and blocking off police vehicles as required - timed so that it could arrive just as the music was ready to start. Then the people would be directed into the warehouse as quickly as possible, for once they were inside the police were effectively powerless to prevent the party going ahead. It is a testament to the organisers that not once did the police ever get to a venue before the convoy.

Through a collectivisation of resources (auto theft) people who would never have been able to afford a car were able to participate in this high speed pursuit. A cat and mouse game developed between police and partiers, with the convoy becoming an essential ingredient of the fun. In an interview in 1995, Chief Inspector Beaty - the officer in charge of policing the parties - described to me how he would stand on motorway bridges as the convoy passed beneath and see three rows of white headlights stretch as far as the eye could see behind and three rows of red tail lights disappear into the distance in front. The scale of it was such that it was possible to drive towards the confluence of motorways surrounding Blackburn knowing that if you kept searching you would almost certainly come across cars heading the right way (although this was also a cause of more than a few misadventures, with many an old couple followed to their home after a late night at the bingo).

Thousands of urban kids let loose on an unsuspecting land created a surreal spectacle, as scallies in ski hats and baggy jeans brought lawlessness and lunacy to neon lit industrial estates and motorway services. The hit and run tactics of the parties meant that there was rarely the luxury to supply much more than the bare minimum - a PA and a set of decks. The warehouse walls were decorated not by sophisticated lighting or styled decorations, but by a few projectors, simple backdrops and the colourful figures of the dancers themselves, as people scaled the walls and balanced precariously on the steel girder frames of the buildings. Even the sound quality - and sometimes the DJing itself - often left much to be desired. But these inadequacies were easily forgiven, as what mattered was that there was sound at all.

If there was any musical style to the Blackburn parties it was balearic - the eclectic fusion of American house, European techno, Italian garage, and UK sampledelia and indie-dance. Flowing out of the black and gay clubs in the ghettos of Detroit, Chicago and New York had come a sonic revolution which set the UK alight. The abstract sounds and minimal rhythms of artists such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Frankie Knuckles took the legacy of disco, funk and European electronica into new realms of audio mayhem. Combined with the ambient sounds of the Mediterranean night this washed up on British shores in the form of a do-wat-ja-like sensibility and a sonic sensitivity tuned to dancefloor affect rather than the pop music formula driven by the 7" single and radio playlist. Anything could find its way into the mix, from the US house of the Reese Project to Andrew Weatherall's remixes of Primal Scream, and from the abrasive sounds of the urban night on Steve Poindexter and Mike Dunns' acid excursions to the evangelical hope of Stirling Void's Its Alright and Jo Smooth's Promised Land.

In tune with the beats aesthetic forged by the early deck pioneers, this was music dominated by rhythm and texture rather than by songs. Vocals became disconnected fragments, sounds tactile shapes, and music an immersive environment in a genre that mixed messages of harmony with renegade frequencies and twisted rhythms. Rather than make a statement or match a trend, the music explored new zones of experimentation whilst always engaging with the body and maintaining the groove. These were sounds that pushed new expressive frontiers, but without lapsing into the intellectual irrelevancy that characterises much experimental music. They both continued and broke with a tradition of black music that was carried from Africa in the secret resistance rituals of the slaves and that infiltrated mass culture (black and white) through gospel, soul and funk. Unlike Northern Soul's obsessive quest for rare, forgotten originals, house substituted studio distortions for the original instance, and celebrated inauthenticity over the real - continuing the tradition of audio abduction that runs from the studios of Lee "Scratch" Perry, through Juan Atkin's 1982 classic Cybotron, and forward to the contemporary drum'n'bass of 4hero and beyond.

Left with its defiant two fingers stuck firmly up its own arse, punk never escaped the rock 'n' roll swindle it exposed. But in its earlier years it was as though dance culture swept the rug from under the music industry's feet by refusing to play the game. Before the cult of the DJ reintroduced passive fixation into the dance experience, the anonymous DJ replaced the pop star and collective dance swept away the crowd transfixed by the spectacle of the rock star jerking his guitar off on stage. Whilst the floors of 'super clubs' could at times resemble glammed up military parade grounds, the Blackburn crowds favoured the arbitrary and impulsive over the ordered and prescribed. Northern Soul too had shifted the emphasis towards the action on the dancefloor. But it was still largely about competition and display, and broke the male gaze only by reversing its polarity and maintaining a rigid gender distinction as men became the chief protagonists of the dance. Revealing its debt to gay disco, on the other hand, dance culture allowed scope for a more amorphous and diffuse sexual expression without forcing any particular position or orientation upon the crowd, coexisting incongruously alongside traditional gender relations and sexual outlooks.

Beyond these cultural and artistic shifts, the most celebrated aspect of dance culture is its decentralised mode of organisation and revolutionary forms of participation. In this instance more like punk than Northern Soul, early dance events grew from ground level, organised by the participants for their own satisfaction. There was no strict separation between organisers and crowd, with regular party-goers often finding themselves helping in the running of the events. This added to the effect that dancing has always had of loosening social restraints to unite people of all colours and classes - 'equal under the groove', as the lyrics intoned.

However, the truth of the matter with Blackburn was not so simple. Whilst it was possible for anyone so inclined to get involved, and whilst most people dedicated their time and risked their liberty for free, the Blackburn parties were ultimately organised and run by an inner-cell of gangsters. Indeed, it was only their tight organisation and undercover experience that made such wholesale mayhem possible. People could be charged up to £5 on the door, which with up to 10000 attending every week meant that some people were making a lot of money - and stories were common of people disappearing into the night with black bin liners full of cash. In contrast to the anti-market ideology that would later prevail with the free parties, here the commodity exchange of late capitalism had been replaced by the covert profiteering of the black economy.

But Boomtown was not just run by gangsters - it was run by and for gangsters. Until the good times dried up and the in-fighting began, we were all gangsters together: Boomtown was more of a pirate utopia than a hippie paradise. Like the Caribbean islands taken over in the seventeenth century by escaped slaves and disaffected sailors - such as Captain Mission's Libertatia in Madagascar - there was a generalised participation and a communal assent that accepted that the people taking the risk deserved what they got, and that all that really mattered was that independence was maintained and that the dance went on. What can be said, however, is that there was a significant degree of naiveté about the ruthlessness of the gangster organisation that lurked beneath the surface. And when the proverbial shit did hit the fan a lot of innocent idealists had their fingers burnt and their illusions shattered. Many found the comedown too much to bear, while others managed to negotiate the wreckage and turn the energy to creative ends.


From Boomtown to Doomtown

Collective dance and abstract sounds led to a revolution in the way people related to art and to each other. But it was in the confrontation with the intransigent blue lines of the law that dance culture became radicalised and overtly political. It is always the sight of a common enemy that binds people together most - especially if that enemy wears a uniform and claims a monopoly on violence.

I recall one party in March 1990 - which was later to be the scene of one of the darkest nights of police-led violence - when I arrived at a warehouse near Nelson at 6am with the party in full swing. Walking up to the warehouse I heard the deep chords of Kid and Play's anthem Too Hype mixed with the sounds of horns and cheers washing towards me. The doors were wide open and through the haze of the steam escaping into the cool night air my bleary eyes could make out the colourful seething crowd within. With the hairs standing up on the back of my neck I felt like Neil Adams on the moon, every step I took one giant leap for mankind. I don't know if it was hope but I was high on something. But then it was six in the morning.

But later that night when the crowd had started to thin, the doors of the warehouse which had been closed against the rising sun were flung open to a chorus of loud bangs and flashes. Through the smoke came a solid wall of blue moving to dissect, isolate and "sterilise" the area. DJs and equipment alike were thrown 5m off the improvised stage, whilst towards the crowd came a double line of police in full riot gear marching shoulder to shoulder, striking their linked shields in time with the beat of their hobnailed boots - a sinister alternative to the repetitive beats of Candy Flip's Strawberry Fields Forever which they had interrupted. There were a few isolated screams, and then people started rushing and pushing towards the back of the warehouse as the police lashed out at anyone within their reach. With those at the back hardly aware of what was happening the crowd became squashed and hemmed into a corner, terror on peoples' faces. A tall rasta shouted for everyone to stay calm, and then someone managed to throw open a door at the back. Everyone poured out into the fresh air - but outside was another line of police waiting to stop them, and people had to dodge the flying truncheons to escape. This was in contravention of the need to allow an avenue of escape, and in blatant disregard for the police's stated concern for safety.(7)

This event changed the nature of the situation altogether. Stories circulated about police beating young girls over the head and other such misdemeanours, and the incident entered the collective memory not only of the people there, but of everyone involved in the northern rave scene. It welded people together as a community, more determined than ever not to lose their way of life. An entertainment was becoming an increasingly radicalised movement, and more and more people were being drawn to a life on the dark side of the law. In the extreme cases, even violence against the police came to be seen as legitimate, as self defence in the face of a threat to both their physical persons and their way of life. In the resulting climate, new people were attracted to the parties who went only to fight with the police. In the face of massive and sustained police pressure there followed a succession of serious riots, repetitive beats met with repeated beatings. This situation reached a climax on the 22 July 1990 in the mass arrest of 836 people at a single party at Gildersome near Leeds - one of the biggest peace-time arrests in Europe this century. I had my records confiscated at this event, and another DJ - Rob Tissera - was sent to prison for inciting a riot (Section 2 Public Order) and 'Dishonest Abstraction of Electricity.'

With the events at Nelson the authorities served notice of their new policy of zero tolerance, assembling a national party force and flooding the region with the same policemen who had learnt their trade during the Miners Strike and against the Peace Convoy in the mid-eighties. The irony was that even such extreme measures did not of themselves stop the warehouse parties. What put people off was more the increasing visibility of gangs who travelled up from places such as Cheatham Hill in Manchester, and the increasing tendency of the original Blackburn organisers to pursue a quick profit. With guns starting to appear on the scene, the parties were no longer worth the risk and became few and far between. When there was enough money floating around for the big cats to have their cream everyone was happy. But with the profits drying up the Blackburn gangsters revealed their true face and in-fighting and mutual recrimination began.

Eventually the sense of purpose that had built up around the parties was destroyed. With them gone the people in the Blackburn region returned to the realities of economic depression. The premature end of such high hopes and soaring aspirations brought people back to earth with a sickening bump as the dream died - Boomtown became 'Doomtown' (or 'Browntown' - the end of the parties did not put an end to drug use, but turned existing drug users to stronger drugs such as heroin). The next generation of parties lost the utopian flavour of the Blackburn parties. In place of 'Brave New World' (Poole Bank) and 'The Love Decade' (Gildersome) - the last two Blackburn parties - came a series of parties called 'Revenge'.


The ART LAB

"The light that burns twice as bright, will always burn half as long. ART LAB we salute you."
- No Damn Cat (graffiti following police raid)

The vacuum created by the demise of the Blackburn parties was soon filled as the dance virus mutated and spread to all corners of the cultural map. After the introduction of the Increased Penalties Act (1990) and the Criminal Justice Act (1994) dance culture split into two parallel universes, as on the one hand club culture swallowed the pill of respectability and built its castles in the sky, and on the other the free party scene forged links with a wider countercultural movement with its potent combination of traveller mobility and sound system ampliphonics. These two worlds shared the decentralised organisation, loose collectivity, and open networks of influence and exchange. They were separated by a commercial imperative which segmented and divided practitioners from professionals. Commercial clubs nurtured increasing musical sophistication and differentiation, while also becoming supermarkets of style. With ever tighter restrictions being placed upon event promoters (particularly after the introduction of the Public Entertainments Licenses (Drug Misuse) Act 1997) the baton passed in the early 90s to the free party movement to keep open the spaces of alternative culture.

Often the most interesting events occur where least expected, and a refreshing alternative to the official history of dance culture as written in the glossy magazines came from a source isolated from these wider movements and trends. Four years after the last Blackburn party, in November 1994, an ex-punk called Allan Deaves decided to convert the warehouse space in which he lived into an audio immersion zone. He had been involved in the Mutoid Waste parties in London in the early eighties and had just spent four years working as a technician at the Tunnel club in New York, but he had no experience of the UK dance scene and no contact with the free party networks. He was joined by Alison Frith and others, as a collective of interested people formed around this new space. With its name recalling the experimental zones of the sixties, the ART LAB was born. Situated just ten miles down the road from Blackburn in Preston, it faced many of the same problems and raised many of the same issues as the earlier warehouse parties. And yet the answers it gave and the form it consequently took were very different. The LAB was a fixed space, run by a few very committed artists for a restricted audience. And whereas Blackburn was covert but 'in yer face' - it took on the whole world, and for a while looked like it could win - the LAB was in the open whilst deliberately low key.

Caught between the riveted steel of Victorian heritage and the computer components of a technological future, the LAB's walls evolved into an intricate mix of organic, rusting pipe-work, digital circuit boards and computer monitors tuned in to constant static. Sci-fi iconography mixed with machines that seem to possess a life of their own whilst being on the verge of falling apart. And extra touches would be added that would not even last the night, such as a different logo painted on the floor each time and worn off by the dancing feet during the course of the night.

Much more than just a dance club, the whole top floor was given over to the scene of people lounging around amidst the sofas, beds and sculptures, their chemical high moderated by the hot drinks and free slices of fruit available all night. From the irreverent vision of its Keep Britain Messy campaign (my contribution) to the community spirit of the free DJing and sound engineering workshops it ran for local kids, the ART LAB pushed the club concept two steps further. Until a court injunction closed the LAB down in 1996 there was even a short-lived fanzine called The Daily Rumour named after the newspaper that was painted on the venue's toilet wall with a new headline each week - such as "Justin Robertson Abducted by Aliens" the night he was supposed to DJ but failed to show.

What was memorable about the LAB was the energy, enthusiasm and people it inspired. With word spread through local networks, it attracted an unlikely mix of punks, hippies, bikers, bankers, students, crusties and the nouveau-chic - most new to the dance experience, but all able to find a home at the LAB. For Allan Deaves, the high points were the occasions that people voluntarily donated equipment to replace that seized in police raids, notwithstanding the high risk of it also being seized never to be seen again. For others the actions of Allan himself provide the most poignant memories. The resident DJ, Adrian, recalls one occasion when the floor was bouncing and straining so much due to the dancing (he had earlier noticed his feet leaving the ground every second beat) that one of the struts supporting it from beneath gave way. He rushed over to tell Allan, who, without any sign of panic, proceeded to remove one of the floor panels at the edge of the room, climb underneath the floorboards, wriggle towards the broken strut and fix it whilst people continued to dance above him - oblivious to his impromptu subterranean service.

The space had to be protected against both gangsters and the law. With entrance by invitation only, it avoided licensing regulations because it was the home of those who ran it, and it escaped the attention of the police by staying low key: everyone had to have their invites ready when they arrived so that there would not be people milling around outside, and the numbers were strictly limited - which also meant that there was never enough money to make it worth robbing. In addition, unscrupulous dealers were kept out, everyone was made to feel safe, and people were encouraged to take personal responsibility for themselves, what they brought with them, and for those around them.

After surviving for almost a year without incident the LAB was raided on successive occasions, with the cast iron doors broken down with a hydraulic battering ram and riot cops pouring in.(8) Once inside the police made illegal searches of the premises and helped council officials confiscate equipment under noise pollution legislation (without stopping to take decibel readings, which environmental health officers could do under obscure local bye-laws). Passports and personal effects were confiscated for over a year, £700 in fines were levied, equipment was seized and destroyed, and a court injunction was issued preventing the building being used for gatherings of more than 50 people on grounds of public safety - on pain of imprisonment.

The LAB had initially found favour with the police, who were primarily concerned with threats to public order and considered the packs of drunk men who would spill out of local bars at closing time looking for a fight a far greater problem. But in this case it was the local councillors who took offence. As with the Blackburn parties, this was something not only outside the system of official checks and measures required by law, but also beyond their understanding - and so not to be tolerated. The gap in comprehension was demonstrated by the authorities' justification for their first raid, when they maintained that the sweaty, scantily clad bodies indicated that pornographic movies were being shot within.

What is noteworthy about the ART LAB is the way that, for a short time at least, it stood its ground. Free party and warehouse sound systems had the luxury of being able to pack up and disappear into the night. This made them more mobile and harder to combat. But it also means that any liberation they might achieve is fleeting and transient. Rather than just liberating that space for a night, the ART LAB also freed the material conditions that would allow it to continue and grow. Instead of disappearing from view it stood up to be counted. The ART LAB sought to open a space that would stand the test of time and weather the attentions of the law, without solidifying into a permanent cultural institution.

The ART LAB was an interzone between the non-place of alternative culture and the dictates of bureaucracy and the law. Rather than try to overturn the whole world, it sought to explore crevasses and slip between the gaps. Creating such spaces is not something that can be taken for granted, but in Blackburn required a Faustian compact with the criminal underworld, and with the LAB rested on the willingness of Allan, Alison and the others to stand up in the full face of the law and take all the harassment and punishment that could be thrown at them.

In a way, however, the LAB was like the art works painted on its dancefloor - it was not intended to be permanent, but was an artistic statement that was destroyed as it was consumed. It suffered an untimely death producing a vacuum that has yet to be filled and leaving those at the centre bruised and burnt out - and yet it achieved everything Allan and the others set out to do: 'I should be happy with this, and use it to build something else.' The LAB was a breeding ground of renegade art, and a launch pad for autonomous action. Many were able to take the inspiration it offered and go on to do their own thing, some finding work in music or journalism, and others going on to other forms of collective action.

If there is a lasting lesson to be learnt from the ART LAB it is that such senseless acts of beauty are possible if the mutual endeavour is there and the desire is right, and that even when the cultural horizon appears stale and stagnant there are always forces pushing up from beneath the ground that can confound the subcultural speculators and unsettle expectations.


Footnotes

(1) The police charged into the crowd wielding batons, and pursued groups of people as the crowd broke up. Some missiles were thrown at the police and it was reported that a policeman died of a heart attack during the incident, although this had not been corroborated at the time of going to print.

(2) R. Winstanley & D. Nowell, Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story, (Robson Books, 1996), p. 20. For another excellent insider account see Pete McKenna, Nightshift, (ST Publishing, 1995).

(3) House is here used in the inclusive sense that was common during this period to denote 'electronic dance music'.

(4) Even then the illegality of the parties was often far from cut and dry. The police had to search out obscure laws and apply them in a different context from that intended, as I discovered several years later when I interviewed the officer in charge of policing the parties in the Blackburn region: 'We started having some difficulty [in identifying it as a crime], and needed quite close scrutiny of the law by our legal people to actually find what offences were being committed.' But by refusing dialogue - 'The rationale in Lancashire was: We're not actually going to negotiate with these people.' - the police locked both sides into an escalating series of confrontations in a process of contestation from which neither could escape. (From an interview with Chief Inspector Jeff Beaty, at Lancashire Police Force Headquarters, Preston, 15th July 1995. Chief Inspector Beaty was not involved in the public disorder incidents discussed in this text, and I do not wish any comments made here to reflect negatively on him personally.)

(5) In the words of the police's own analyst, Malcolm Young, police work is cast 'into the required framework of combative warfare directed against a common (male) enemy.' (Malcolm Young, "The Police, Gender and the Culture of Drug Abuse and Addiction," in Maryon McDonald (ed), Gender, Drink and Drugs, (Berg, 1994), p.55.)

(6) One ruse was to build new boxes for the PA speakers each week so that the components could be smuggled out through police lines under peoples' coats at the end of the party and reused the following week. Respect is due to Joe, Jules, Nathan, Barney, Dill and the rest for keeping the wheels turning, and to Tony Creft for writing the rule book.

(7) 'Safety was paramount, because people would panic, and they'd run around in a dark environment and you'd have people crushed and trodden to death.' (Chief Inspector Beaty - who had no involvement in this incident)

(8) The ART LAB was first raided on 27 May 1995, and then again on 17 March 1996 and 17 August 1996.
 

Jonno

New member
Jul 15, 2001
4,592
1
0
50
Nice one for posting those articles Barry.

I never made it to Love Decade - I made it to pretty much every single one that summer - all the Revenges etc (including 1 and 4 which only a few managed to make it to) - in fact apart from Love Decade I can't think of one I never made it to. I missed that one for some reason though - don't know if that was a good or bad thing though considering the arrests.

I know what you mean with the police being heavy handed though - they didn't fuck about that summer - any means at their disposal to piss people off. I was in a convoy one night where the police blocked off a dual carriage way, made everyone pull over to the side and then booked them for being illegally parked!

My brother got truncheoned round the head a few times as well by a WPC as he was climbing back through a fence after the police had broken up a party before it managed to start in 1990. It was just off the M6 - on the works access between J23 & J22 - anyone remember it? Quite a few of us got there but a few coppers had already got there as well - the people in the warehouse were shouting for people to come in, but there wasn't any music - apparently there was no petrol for the generator. A bloke appeared on the roof with a jerry can, disappeared through the roof, and then the music started up - there was a big cheer from the crowd and everyone surged forward - by a massive stroke of bad luck though about 6 full riot vans came flying in straight off the M6 and then started to set about people - crying shame. Jog anyone else's memory?

That first party in the article where everyone went to get the decks back was Phenomenom-E - it was Sept 1990 I seem to remember - deffo arse end of summer 1990. It was the most flyered party ever - they even had taster flyers before the proper flyers came out.

To be honest, and I know I'm nit-picking here, but there are quite a few bits in that article which are untrue - he seems to have been liberal with actual events to fit his philosophical view of the parties. The Revenge parties weren't after Love Decade for instance - Revenge 1 & 2 at the very least were before Love Decade. He's just said that as if there was some utopian ideal for the Blackburn parties that weren't there for the Revenge one's - which is bullshit IMO. For me as a participant there wasn't any discernible difference between the Revenge parties and the Blackburn parties - they were all banging parties in warehouses, end of.

The truth is fucking amazing anyway - it doesn't need dressing up in some pseudo philosophical bollocks.

I'm not too sure on his direct continuation thing with the Art Lab thing as well - it seems to have far more in common with the Loft in NY rather than the Blackburn parties.

His writing style reminds me of that Energy Flash book which I thought was a bit shit as well - it seems to be in a pretentious punk fanzine style - big words for the sake of it (there's actually a specific big word to describe that as it happens :condom: )

That said nice one for the link Barry, as there is very little out there on the northern warehouse scene.
 

Shynarr

New member
May 1, 2011
42
0
0
on the outskirts of frisco
compo ?????

July 21st 1990- 836 ravers are arrested & detained at the Love Decade party held at Gildersome in Yorkshire. This remains one of the biggest mass arrests in British history. Only 8 are actually charged with anything!

I was there - sued the police and got 2000 sobs for some out of control PC Meathead twatting me across my head for no reason whatsover.

Anybody else there witness this complete and utter police fuck-up?

Can you believe this was 19 years ago??

so whats the crack with this compo i was locked up in kirby longsdale for over 14 hrs luckly with a lad from wigan who was driving and about 6 of my mates were also locked up in various police stations and only one got charged with causing an affaire he got a 3 month suspended sentence .
i went to court with him and watched all the cases dred mc some dj that worked for goi gio a mad head from morcamebe were the only ones who got jail i think?? as you said it was 19 year ago ... i could do wi a holiday lol
 

jim808

New member
Sep 20, 2009
117
0
0
birstall/leeds
July 21st 1990- 836 ravers are arrested & detained at the Love Decade party held at Gildersome in Yorkshire. This remains one of the biggest mass arrests in British history. Only 8 are actually charged with anything!

I was there - sued the police and got 2000 sobs for some out of control PC Meathead twatting me across my head for no reason whatsover.

Anybody else there witness this complete and utter police fuck-up?

Can you believe this was 19 years ago??

wow..barry . that place is literaly one minute away from my house......:) bye the time we got there that night it was all kicking of. so we did;nt hang around....
 

Barrie Jay

Active member
Jul 20, 2003
1,607
3
38
64
Fleetwood - twinned with Royston Vasey
there are quite a few bits in that article which are untrue - he seems to have been liberal with actual events to fit his philosophical view of the parties.

The truth is fucking amazing anyway - it doesn't need dressing up in some pseudo philosophical bollocks.

Agreed, but it was worth posting.

No copper was going to twat me round the head for fuck all and get away with it - I sued them just to cause as much grief and hassle as I legally could. Ending up with a couple of grand to shut me up was a Brucey bonus.

The Pay Party Unit of the Police, was a disgrace. The powers and instructions they were given to end the parties was shameful, all agreed and approved by the Government. I wonder if the truth will ever come out.
 

brianbud123

New member
Nov 7, 2014
1
0
0
how many realy were charged

LOVE DECADE
what a night ha ha
I was there 836 arrested out of them 21 were charged I know this because I was one of them in morley court
Damion zacki,brian castley and im not sure of the name of the third person sent down
I was sent by the morley magistrate to hull magistrates because I got cought coming from Amsterdam with a kilo of romio and Juliet afgani black (SHITHOT FOR THE TIME)
I got 3 months a dear friend damian got the same
I was charged with starting a riot because I opened the giant sliding loadingbay door and launched a piece of 3by2 at the line of pigs and was followed by 100 plus people I thought I was smart covering my face and giving false name in police station but blown up stills were shown to me in interview and my tattoos gave my ass to pigs
I was at live the dream every weekend through all the revenge raves (awesome times) always after the best night at SET END BLACKBURN
all this I regret very much ha ha but f uck it was good