Monday, 22 July 2013

GREG WILSON "How House Music really hit the UK"

Great article by Greg Wilson about the white-washing of House music’s roots in the UK, and how that relates to the “no-shuffling" discrimination of certain modern dancefloors. Personally, I think there’s a lot of str8-washing in the “accepted history" Greg is railing against too, but race is the very deserving focus of this excellent piece:
During recent times I’ve been intrigued to hear about the growing schism on the House scene here in the UK, brought about by the introduction, primarily by young black dancers, of ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way. The accusation is that not only do they take up too much dancefloor space, but there’s a general ‘moodiness’ with regards to their attitude. Although it no longer seems to be online, there was even an ‘Anti Foot Shuffling Campaign’ page on Facebook, with some of the posts suggesting underlying issues of racism. As one person commented, “It's not that all these people on here hate shufflers, they just don't like fact that black people are into House music now.” Although this comment may be well intentioned, it’s also somewhat misguided given there are, and always have been, plenty of black people in the UK who are big into House – it’s just that their presence is usually to be found away from the mainstream, in more specialist avenues like the Deep and Soulful House scenes. Furthermore, some of the older black crowd are also resistant to this new wave of shuffling, so to present it as a purely black / white issue would be wrong.

That said, what’s clear from this whole kerfuffle is that there are a significant amount of mainly white enthusiasts on the scene today who seem to segregate House as somehow belonging to them, whilst suggesting the black crowd should stick to ‘their own music’, the likes of Grime, Hip Hop, R&B and other more ‘urban’ genres. This is all despite the fact that House, as anyone with even a basic awareness of its origins would tell you, was born within Chicago’s black clubbing community back in the mid-80’s.

The 25th anniversary of the Acid House ‘Second Summer Of Love’ is upon us (the original ‘Summer Of Love’, of course, being way back in psychedelic ’67, emanating from the Hippie movement of San Francisco). It’s remarkable that House music has been the main staple of British dancefloors for a colossal quarter of a century, the original ‘ravers’ now middle-aged. Yet despite its importance to this country’s popular culture, its true roots have never been fully acknowledged. In fact, if you told many of those on the House scene today that it was mainly black kids in the UK who first embraced the music, they’d no doubt look at you incredulously, for everybody knows that Ibiza ’87 was year zero, as this is how the story has, and continues to be told – the true origins in the relatively grim cities of the North and Midlands buried deep beneath the sun-drenched romance of the White Isle.

What’s even more remarkable is that the original style of dancing to House music in this country, before the hands in the air approach of the Rave era, was uncannily similar to shuffling, as illustrated by this now historic video, recorded at the Moss Side Community Centre in Manchester on September 27th 1986:

Read the full article here on Greg's blog.

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