Lost Club Culture: The rise of acid house
Written by Fliss Baker
On the 13th October 1990 Coventry opened its doors to the UK’s first legal all-night rave and the Eclipse legacy was born. People travelled from all over the country for a hedonistic, euphoric experience that transcended race, class and sexuality. The dancefloor became a form of escapism where you could listen to the finest, rhythmical beats of acid house and rave until the sun came up.
The radical movement of acid house broke all boundaries in a segregated and unsettled society, desperate for change. We have many key, artistic influencers to thank for this (inviting differing opinions of course). As with any development on the music scene we can claw back through the different sounds from jazz, soul, funk to disco to house and so on… and every musical phase is as important as the other. From soil to roots, budding stems to flowers – music grows and metaphorically, acid house was that flower that blossomed and created a sub culture that categorically, changed the world of music.
House music originated from Chicago thanks to one of the biggest influencers at that time, Frankie Knuckles, the “Godfather of house”. A group of promoters spotted his talent fusing disco with new Eurobeat pop and lured him into a residency at the club “Warehouse”, which opened in 1977. People went mad for it and dance fanatics all over the world wanted to know where they could buy this amazing and innovative style of music. Soon people dropped the ‘ware’ and became in search of ‘house.’
Frankie Knuckle’s childhood friend Larry Levan was also a big hitter on the changing disco scene. His residency at a new night spot ‘Paradise Garage’ gained attention of Factory Records artists ‘New Order’ who performed there on 7th July 1983. After falling in love with America’s house scene they returned to the UK and decided to create ‘a Hacienda’ – and there, in Manchester after years of blood, sweat and tears, the home of acid house was created. Peter Hook in his captivating book ‘The Hacienda’ noted ‘No Way Back’ by Adonis, ‘Love can’t turn around’ by Farley Jackmaster Funk and ‘Rhythm’ by Marshall Jefferson as the very first house tracks that the club went crazy for.
And what about DJ Pierre, another Chicago based DJ, fascinated with creating new sounds with electronic instruments, keyboards, drum machines and programming. His experimentation with the Roland 303 bass machine led to the creation of ‘Phuture’ who released the infamous ‘Acid Tracks’ EP, which was arguably the first ever acid house recording.
We can also thank the UK breakout of acid house to the pilgrimage of a group of young UK DJ’s to the Balearic island of Ibiza. In late August 1987, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker dropped Ecstacy for the first time and listened to the new, squelching sound of acid house played out by the likes of DJ Alfredo. In an interview for ‘The Guardian’ Danny Rampling reminisced about their first night, “the last tune at sunrise was U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’. That night I found everything I had been looking for. All four of us changed that night. I can remember saying I think we may be on to something here.” Their new sound discovery and the subsequent opening of Danny’s nightclub ‘Shoom’ in London made a huge dent in the UK’s music scene and developed a culture of love and unity.
UK crowds raved their heads off on MDMA and Ecstacy and danced in abandoned warehouses, basements and old parking lots, naming 1988 as the second summer of love. The sub culture of acid house was gaining momentum and everyone wanted to bathe in the beauty of ‘peace and love’.
The Eclipse was the first all night legal rave sensation, converted from a disused bingo hall on Lower Ford St, with a capacity of 1600. We thank Stuart Reid and Barry Edwards as the brains behind the club’s innovation! The Eclipse opened its doors with an unforgettable line up including Fabio, Mickey Finn and Sasha and over the years boasted DJ legends including Carl Cox, Jeremy Healy, Roger Sanchez as well as Coventry’s own Mickey Parkes and Mickey Wilson with MC’s Master P, Ezee Vibe and Coventry’s born and bred Mr MC Man Parris spitting lyrics over the tracks.
Jay Holder, DJ at the Eclipse and Amnesia House all-nighters at the Coventry Sky Blue Connexion, told us that the rave era between 1988-1993 were “without a shadow of a doubt” the best clubbing years. His most memorable moment was Laurent Garnier and Kevin Saunderson playing at the Eclipse, declaring “it was simply an ‘education’ in DJ’ing!”
Its legal license stipulated no sale of alcohol and as a private members club, the council struggled to oppose it. Just across the road you could buy your tickets as well as tapes and videos from the club’s events from Moonshine Records (later changed to Bangin’ Tunes).
The Eclipse was recognised as one of the biggest influencers on the dance scene when, at the start of 1992, readers of top clubber’s mag DJ voted it club of the year. It had the best lights, nicest door staff and an indisputably top sound system and was such an attraction that in April 1992, Coventry’s own Peter Waterman filmed an edition of his TV show ‘The Hitman and Her’ there. (Check out the link to the funkin’ brilliant vid of this at the end of the article).
Whistle blowing ravers flocked to the venue in smiley faced t shirts, trainers and dungarees, rode on the highs of drugs and waved their hands in the air. Dress code was casual – fuck egos and VIP’s – this was a new-found culture that didn’t give a shit about materialism, just a deep love of music and a hunger to reach those blissful chemical highs.
In Part 2 we ask MC Man Parris what he thought of the rave scene and his years at the Eclipse, the contributory factors he believes led to its decline and the kick up the arse he feels our music scene needs – particularly in the City of Coventry. Coming soon…
According to the rave pioneers 2 Bad Mice (Dummy Mag, 2016), here is a seamless mix of what they believe to be the Top 10 ‘pick of the crop’ rave tracks. Sounds like music to our ears. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9ANRTC5i64cJjVepMe3ENqkbd0cdxSZH
Click here for Eclipse ‘Coventry Hitman & Her’ vid part 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCXoWqPtwJM