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Club Culture: Fabric explores the history of clubbing

Fabric hosted yesterday a one-off special exhibition, celebrating the history of Club Culture around the world.

In collaboration with OurHistory and Logic Vapes and curated by Red Gallery founder Ernesto Leal, the exhibition was focusing on the peculiarities of eight vibrant scenes of the last 50 years of club culture. 

The three rooms of Fabric, a venue that fought to protect the clubbing scene of the country since 1999, featured archived photographs of parties happened in all corners of the world. Showing the authenticity of urban spaces where people gathered to find inclusivity and a deeper sense of community, the pictures portrayed sub-cultures that seem very different one from the other, yet surprisingly similar.

Room 1 was entirely dedicated to the UK, London and their crazy rave and acid house scene. Flyers of London clubs of the likes of The Brain, Trade or Shoom, but also Manchester’s legendary The Hacienda or Leeds’s Back to Basics promoted “parties-trips”, often accessible with just a fiver (and maybe the help of a few iconic smiling yellow faces). Hinting at psychedelic journeys with their bright colours, some of those leaflets were particularly bold, even exploring religious symbolism when depicting, for example, the Virgin Mary with an inflamed heart saying: “Love is a religious experience”. In an age where social networks didn’t exist, flyers were the only way to advertise both legal and illegal parties and it’s funny how we now look at them as works of art. 

 

Room 2 hosted pictures of French Electronica sub-culture: its elegant scene of the 80s, made of fashionable clubs like the Parisian Les Bains Douche and its well dressed party-goers, really stood out. 

The other side of the room was dedicated to Spaghetti Disco, symbol of the Italian hedonistic culture of the same years. Italo Disco music was usually made with a Roland drum machine; its sound made of cheeky vocals and keyboard riffs, winking at the American disco, called for a specific type of fashion. Moncler bombers and Timberland shoes, the Paninaro generation was born. 

Still in room 2, Berlin, techno and the legendary Tresor were represented with stunning black and white pictures. A young Jeff Mills playing to a massive crowd, abandoned buildings where never-ending parties were thrown at any day, ravers dancing non-stop, were all speaking of a time where “East Berlin felt like a temporary autonomous zone and everything seemed to be possible”. 

Room 3 featured some of the most peculiar and less known scenes: the Movida Madrileña, but also the soviet hippies of the 70s psychedelic Estonian underground culture and a super edgy Tokyo punk scene. Particularly powerful was the project about the American Rave Culture and photographer Tree Carr’s personal archive from the early 90s. In a pre-Photoshop era, the artist used to bring disposable cameras to the clubs, raves and festivals to document the people attending those events. After developing the film, she cut out the faces and bodies of the party-goers and glued them on top of pictures of space found in science magazines. The result is a funny composition of tripping ravers, wearing the most absurd and colourful outfits, literally spaced out.

 

Putting together a collection of untold stories of clubbing, the exhibition attracted a very varied audience: old clubbers, twenty-something ravers, media people and curious young tourists filled Fabric’s rooms with interest, proving that clubbing really makes history and shapes our culture.

Curator Ernesto Leal described the show as “a statement made in opposition to the current all-pervasive view that is both ignorant and cynical towards the ethics, diversity and richness of collective histories –marginalised cultures that could not exist without the European collective conscience.”

Clubs create culture, as a neon sign in Room 1 of Fabric was saying. At a time where it seems so difficult to demonstrate that club culture is a movement much bigger than the dance-floor, we really must reflect on its ability to influence our society, the way we live, interact with others and what we dream of. 

Looking and comparing old photographs with more recent ones featured in the exhibition, it felt that there really was little difference. Despite what some nostalgic might say, people have always enjoyed dancing and seen the dance-floor as a place where escaping from reality and connecting with others. The clubs, the music, the outfits, the substances might have changed, but the energy and the smiles of some of those ravers can still be found in some parties, today.

Only real difference: not a phone in sight. 

 

Written by / Stefania Trinchero

Published / 26.04.2019

See our gallery on Instagram / Part 1 - Part 2

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