I recently had the pleasure of encountering the visuals of Loughborough photographer, Boothy - aka Thomas H. He’s got an eye for snapping the current population of clubbers – a term that’s evolved from the halcyon days of Acid House / Rave culture in the late 1980s through to today’s groomed, heavily produced, stylised and deeply entrenched club methodology. That’s not a criticism by the way; just a statement of evolution. Clubbing has endured but like any concept that survives into a 3rd decade it has to change to fit the “new people” emerging from pubescent crystallize into the dazzling lights of a laser rig.
Boothy presents a graphic diary of clubbing today – and the generation that embraces it as their own outlet of social energy. It’s been a long time since I went to a proper rave. Back in the days of Timo Maas at Fabric in London and Twilos (RIP) in New York. Sure, I’ve had the occasional blip of finding myself in the right place and time, in a club where the tunes are just….right. But in those rare moments the people are typically not of the clubbing mentality. If you’re a clubber, you’ll know what I’m driving at.
There’s a wider cultural statement to be read in Boothy’s photographs. Maybe not visible to people below a certain age. I grew up in the 1970s where fashion on the high-street was severely limited, by today’s standards. Male-grooming products wasn’t a term that could have survived, never mind be conceived in the mind of an advertising exec. The word ponce would have had a better chance of sticking. The range of make-up and body-shape adjusting clothing available for woman remained crude and basic right through the 1980s and into the 1990s. Thongs, skimpy undergarments and designer briefs didn’t really enter Western consumer taste until around this time.
And it’s around this time that dance music – as a behavioural model and philosophy of good-times – really leapt up from a spark of novelty into a raging inferno. Hand-in-hand with new sounds came a renewed liberation of sexual and creative freedom. Old established paradigms, the vertical chimneys of heavy industry and restrictive stereotypes – you’re one of these so this is how you act – came tumbling down. The late 80s early 90s was possibly one of the most interesting times to be young and alive. Of course, I’m from that era so I’m bound to say that. Every generation does.
But it’s great to see the same essential formulae seeping through the sweat , dilated pupils, gnarly grins and euphoric sounds.
That’s what Boothy’s photos – energetic, captivating and highly evocative – say to me.
These photos from Boothy are from Xstatic Summer festival 2012 @ a secret location in Loughborough, Sat 30 Jun. Continuing the theme of perpetuity and evolution: I used to work as a barman at Papillons nightclub, in Bristol at the tail end of 1991. It was pretty much booze, birds and brawling for the clientele on most nights, until Thursdays became the domain of a new event called Xstatic. DJs like Carl Cox, Top Buzz, Ellis Dee, Eazy Groove, Donovan Smith, SL2 and Seduction turned the place into a sweaty temple of sonic sorcery. I used to manage my shifts so I could clock off at midnight and then stay through until 4am – late for a Bristol club back then. So it’s interesting to see this pics from how Xstatic is nearly 21 years later.
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