9. The Underground Party Scene in the 80s
The Scene is Set…
The combined recipe of the violent doormen & the racist cops, seasoned with the bitterness, that anyone with even half a brain felt towards Frau Thatcher’s government of the time, alienated a great many ordinary people. We weren’t the only ones…
This UK-wide disenchantment, was a big factor in laying the foundations for the birth of Newcastle’s original 80s Underground Party Scene…
We have always been record fiends. Even as little kids we would take control of the record player at family New Year’s Eve parties & choose what order to spin the tunes to work the room. It was just what we did, always had & it was no big deal.
So in the mid 80s, now we were running the Trent & doing the jukebox in there, it was a natural progression to start to Dj & spin tunes in public.
With our strong Jazz, Disco, Funk & Northern Soul background, we were already well on the way to having a really great music collection & were eager to share all our top tunes with anyone who would listen.
We had tunes nobody else had & we had never met people who were more into music & record collecting than we were.
Politically in the UK all the factors were now in place, to push people like us underground & slowly a party scene, bigger than the student one up in Fenham on a weekend, started to emerge.
These were events that catered to people like us. People who rejected all that was middle of the road & were pissed off with the government & the way night life in the city centre was so dangerous & bland at the time.
So the the little 1980s Underground Scene kicked off…
Beyond the Grave
Epic parties ensued, like the classic Jesmond Cemetery bash. We didn’t organise it, but on the back of the buzz around the Trent jukebox, we were invited to play records there & this was the first time we had ever done so publicly.
It took place in the Gatehouse of the massive Graveyard on Jesmond Road.
It was a really big party, held on a Saturday night & lots of different DJs were involved. The following day, the Sunday Sun did a sensationalist tabloid article saying ‘Students dance on graves etc.’
That wasn’t true at all, as like we said, it was in the Gatehouse, not out in the open air with all of the gravestones – But that’s the media for ya.
When we went on the decks that night, the first ever tune we played to audiences in Newcastle was Night To Remember by Shalamar.
The Graveyard party certainly was that type of night & we properly smashed it.
These days, when we are having a mid-set a nostalgic moment in WHQ, we spin Shalamar & it’s almost like it’s still that same night & it just never ended…
That was a great do, one that gave us an inkling that we could do much more with this type of idea.
We were switched on & we saw that that a bigger scene could be created, away from the bland mainstream, as there was obviously such a demand.
Rare Groove, World Music, Soul & Reggae were all big in the Graveyard & Barrington Levy’s Here I Come & Across The Tracks by Maceo & the Macks were really massive beats that night.
We had every one of those tunes & a bag of chips, so we instinctively knew, that if we really wanted to push it, we could take all this & raise it up a level…
The beautiful game
So we started to get involved in putting on large scale parties, run on the fringes of what people back then would have considered, as established society.
There was no Facebook, no mobile phones or anything like that back then, so it was possible (if you hung out with like minded, similarly motivated people), to keep a whole massive scene quiet & totally under the radar of the authorities.
The problem was promoting it all, but we already had a ready made way of doing that…
We simply used the Trent, as a kind of mission control. Everyone cool in the city already went there & so we had in the Bar, a central point from which we could network with people, to let them all know where & when the next do was.
The Trent House soon became the place that everyone in the know, knew all the cool underground parties sprung from. It was on…
Mission control – Sherwood Forest
Around this time a guy called Bobby Greenland worked with us at the Bar.
Bobby was the Party King & as far as we were concerned he bordered on being a God like figure. He was just the most charismatic & popular guy (& still is) for miles around.
Everybody knew & loved Bobby, he could light up any late night lock in, with his endless jokes & tricks.
We learnt a ton of stuff from him in our early days, all of which we still happily reflect on & roll with to this day.
So we teamed up with Bob promoting parties & it was game over…
We had it locked & epic underground parties ensued at locations all over the region.
(Editor’s note: Finchale Abbey Durham, was one of the places we partied)
The 1986 Beach Party was the highlight of our insane capers. No one had ever had the front, to attempt anything on that type of scale before & we were at the very top of our game.
Retrospectively looking back on it all today from 2016, you need to understand a little of the context & the times that these events took place in & also, our attitude to it all…
We were not doing this as any kind of business (Reader’s voice Er… monkey perhaps..?)
& this all took place, pre House Music, pre Rave Era, pre Criminal Justice Bill, pre the arrival of ecstasy & all the large scale mass drug taking that the end of the 80s & early 90s saw.
No one knew all that was even on the horizon & there was an innocence & genuine sense of fun, to everything we did.
That is why people loved us, trusted us to run great, safe parties & came to hang at all our dos.
We were just kids having a laugh, setting up places to play our music, outwitting the authorities & seeing just how far we could push it.
Yeah we were a bit naughty…. Cheeky little rascals, if you like.
But the way we saw it, we weren’t doing anything morally illegal & the reality of it was, that we were in fact, providing a safe environment for people to party.
That was something that was not being provided for the people who followed us, by the cops & doormen in the city centre at the time.
That was one of the main factors, why there was a such demand for parties like ours, because no one got hassled, or ever got smacked about.
We honestly just saw ourselves as Robin Hood type characters – doing good deeds, having a laugh, giving something back to the people & utilising our both undeniable & considerable swerve, to woo the ladies.
We were the Trent Crew… the late night lock in masters.
It was the 80’s, we had game & the game was there to be played…
So game on.