INTRODUCTION TO DPS
Truancy is presumably exactly as old as education. Some 800,000 years ago in the Middle East, people learned how to start fires. Though an important skill and an entertaining subject, I’m sure that some frustrated student thought to her or his self, “Lame. I’m outta here.” Later truants organized parties during school hours. My research for this blog entry turned up accounts of actress Sharon Tate and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa frequenting them in the 1960s. I myself -- though something of an advanced ditcher of high school -- only attended one organized ditching event (it wasn’t really a party. The drumline I was in all went to a restaurant and played tabletop shuffleboard. My punishment was having to work in the school library for a spell).
In the early 1990s, a ditch party scene emerged as a phenomenon on LA’s Eastside (for clarification: the region east of the LA River). That is the subject of this entry. DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to glorify drug abuse nor truancy; neither is it meant to suggest that I’m an authority on the subject. I didn’t even move to Los Angeles until well after the scene had faded.
I have searched for firsthand accounts of the “Old School Ditch Party” scene but, aside from a couple of blog entries, and scanned images from Street Beat magazine, almost all of the information in this post is derived from the sensationalistic and comically disapproving FOX Undercover stories from the era. So far only one of my friends has told me about her firsthand experiences with the scene. So this isn’t mean to be taken as anything remotely suggesting a serious study but rather an invitation for readers to share their memories and help fill out the picture of this seemingly scarcely documented but fondly remembered era.
INTRODUCTION TO DPS
The Second Summer of Love
It was 20 years ago today (well, this coming summer, which is just around the corner) that what was known as The Second Summer of Love occurred. England's youth fell in love with Ecstasy, which they combined with a taste for Chicago House Music and the results made history. As is often the case, the fashions of 20 years ago (in this case, the 1960s) became fashionable again. Tye dye and peace symbols abounded on teens around the world. Thousands of people started attending massive Acid House raves. A feeling of pacifistic and environmental optimism swept much of the planet (or maybe that was just my teenage outlook). The Factory label's Hacienda nightclub featured DJs and bands which mixed disco, house, hip-hop, electro and indie rock. Soon, other northern clubs followed their lead, such as Boardwalk, Devilles, Isadora's, Konspiracy, House, Soundgardens, Man Alive, The International, Bugsy's and The Osbourne Club. And the hooliganish Casuals tuned in and begat Acid Casuals.
Madchester, So Much to Answer For
Half a world away in Columbia MO, I used to listen to KCOU, which would play lots of Acid House and Belgian New Beat. It was the first contemporary music that I was into as it was happening. My parents only played soul, bluegrass, jazz and classical records. Then I discovered the Doors, T Rex and the Beatles through the radio. And after discovering College Radio, a new world opened up. I would dance (in private) on the hearth in the living room to these strange, new sounds and hope that my mother wouldn't ask what the hell that stuff was all about because I couldn't really explain its hold on me, although it's debt to my beloved Kraftwerk was evident. Our exchange student, Alexis Poul, found an Acid House button at JFK which was, of course, a smiley face with the words "acid" and "house" printed on them. Alexis told me that all anyone listened to in France was house music. And when I went there, in '89, it was true. Even the buses played house.
Run Tings - Fires Burning:
Liquid - Sweet Harmony/SL2 - On a Ragga Tip:
Andrew Meecham is The Emperor Machine, one of the best producers working in electronic music at the moment. A soundclash between influences as diverse as Can, early Human League, Hawkwind, George Clinton and Kraftwerk, Meecham's Krautrock-Disco bubbles and squeaks with analogue rock intensity while remaning funky enough to get your groove on.
Meecham started out in seminal 90's house/rave group Bizarre Inc. alongside Carl Tuner and Dean Meredith. They had a string of hits including "Playing With Knives" and "I'm Gonna Get You", both of which charted in the UK (the former hit #3, the latter #4) as well as the US (#47), and both are considered "club classics".
"I'm Gonna Get You" (one of my personal favorites):
After their second album, 1996's Surprise, was commercially disappointing, Bizarre Inc. disappeared until 1999, when Meredith and Meecham resurfaced with Steve "Fella" Kotey as Chicken Lips. Since then, it's been full steam ahead, with the boys finding a home at DC Recordings (scheduled to have its own Technophilia post anytime soon) as Big Two Hundred, aka "the dark side of Chicken Lips", and two side projects: Meredith as White Light Circus and Meecham as TEM.