Wednesday, June 14, 2006
THE SUMMER OF ’89
Processed nostalgia isn’t normally my kind of thing, but I ended up watching The Summer Of ’89 last Saturday night. You know the kind of thing. Lots of talking heads reflect on the popular culture of the day with a bit of politics thrown in to make it seem clever (after all, it was shown on BBC 2). Much time was devoted to the M25 orbital raves that happened that summer. There can’t be many people who aren’t familiar with the story. Even my mum said, ‘Oh yes, I remember this.’ Indeed, the narrative ran on rails: dance music’s big, everyone’s taking ecstacy, promoters throw big parties, you have to ring up to find out where it is, big convoys of ravers circle the M25, and so on. However, in amongst the commonplace reminicences (did anyone really need to hear Lisa Loud explaining how ecstacy did more to reduce violence on the football terraces than the police ever could?) there was one gem. It was an interview with a farmer who hired out his field for a rave. The following day, his neighbours were mightly miffed. He remembered, with a somewhat hurt expression, that for a long time afterwards whenever he went in the local pub everyone else would move up the other end. “It was a nice pub, as well,” he said. But he added that in retrospect he didn’t mind because 20,000 people had a good time and he felt quite proud. Forget Anthony Wilson banging (again!) on about the ten year youth culture cycle and every youth movement having its own drug. The farmer summed up the spirit of the time better than anyone.