Trent House Beach Party 1986
The Beach Hustle & it's seismic impact
Probably the greatest underground party ever to come out of this City & certainly the peak of our DIY party activity with Bob was the landmark, outstanding & super cheeky -1986 Trent House Beach Party.
This was a proper epic event & topped 700 people, with marquees, 3 pool tables, generators, food, beer, sound system, space invader machines, etc., etc., etc.
Music was provided by the two Clubs that were kicking it at the time, Echoes (Black Music) & Rathaus (more indie based stuff) from Rockshots Club & we also taped a load of Trent tunes, ready for when everyone got too mashed up to play, which was most of the night.
Nothing even vaguely on this ‘Pop Up City on a Beach’ type tip, had ever taken place before.
That’s the insane level we took all this to...
It was on such a grand scale & just so, so, cheeky, that the authorities would never have even believed, that we would try to pull off something that elaborate…
The Art of making Social History
A Chris (Viz) Donald classic, drawn in exchange for beer most probably. This A4 artwork was then printed & then cut into three strips, stapled together at one end, so it presented a bit like an old airplane booklet-type ticket would look. The directions were to the Trent, as that was where everyone met & all left from.
Time has been kind to it's memory & significance, as in 2009, this original artwork (shown below), was put on public exhibition in the city's Discovery Museum & then it toured cultural venues throughout the North as part of a major exhibition on Music & Youth Culture.
Party..? Flippin’ hyperspace more like..!
We trucked all the gear up there in a top secret operation & assembled it on the beach, just for the one beautiful Summer’s night. The site was in a natural amphitheatre between the dunes, at Duridge Bay, way up in Northumberland.
Everyone was on it & all met in the Trent, where we’d booked a fleet of coaches to arrive & bus them all up to the coast. We also had coaches come down from Scotland too.
We’d popped up with Bob in the afternoon, so we could give the farmer, with the land nearest the bit of beach where we planned to party, a yarn about a get together for a few pals (cue sound of noses growing…)
We also gave him a bottle of whiskey to (hopefully) knock him out. We’d seen him, when we were casing it all out in advance & had clocked his big red conk.
Sure sign of a fellow who likes a drop of the sauce we reckoned & we were dead right. Worked a treat & we didn’t hear a peep out of the geezer all night.
This was an insanely good party & the tune of the night, as dawn broke over the dunes was Daylight, by the outstanding Soul legend, Mr Bobby Womack. Anytime we spin it today, it takes us right back & we smile - that's the true power of Soul music, it touches your heart & stays with you.
As the sun slowly rose, a game of footie took off, which must have been 100 a side on the beach, with crazy dogs running around, all woofing like mad loons in there too. We looked over at Bobby & we had a moment. Didn't have to say a single word to each other... We both knew - that it was absolutely magical.
Many of the tunes played at the Beach Party are still played in the Club today. It is as a direct result of our hustling events like this, as daft young kids, that we set of on the road that led to the existence of the World Headquarters Club you see today.
Another tune that really sticks in the memory from that night & still rocks dance floors full of young, fresh-faces kids today, is Wayne Smith’s Under Me Sleng Teng. Classic, classic, memories.
Another Brother Bobby (Womack)
Years later, in 2013 Tommy bumped into Bobby Womack in the Holiday Inn, Camden, when he was playing two shows at the Jazz Cafe, shortly before he passed away.
Tommy was really apologetic, as everyone knew about Bobby's illness & he didn't wish to impose on him, but simply couldn't not go over to thank him for the fantastic shows & say hello, as he knew it was that last time he'd see him.
They ended up sat in the lobby, chatting for over half an hour & Bobby's parting words to him were…
‘I always make time for people who make time for me’
Bobby's music was played every single day of the 25 years we worked at the Trent, so let's take a quick trip to the WHQ DJ Booth the night Bobby passed, with a really appropriate tune from Chet Baker.
Bobby Womack, a true Soul Legend - RIP.
All true Soul fans reading this site will appreciate that & that's why we popped it up here. A worthwhile, respectful & relevant, brief digression from the story in hand, we're sure you'll agree.
But let's now get right back to this crazy Beach Party yarn...
The Beach High
So, somehow we pulled it off & by the time the cops eventually cottoned on, it was the next day & we were long gone…
Disappeared in a puff of smoke, taking our 5 a side goals, all our rubbish & other kit, plus 700, weary, happy chums with us.
It was like a mad, best-ever dream & everyone felt the love that night. We had rocked the underground in an earth shattering fashion, doors were about to open for us & things would never be the same again.
We'd cracked it!
At this point you have to take on board just where we now sat in the underground scene...
We were at the very top, we were the absolute, must-know guys.
We’d been able to persuade 700 people to attend this event (based on our friendships with them & reputation) & all get tickets in advance, when not one of them had any idea where we were gonna even take them…
We didn’t have security, because we didn’t need security. This was a Trent party, everyone already knew what that meant & just got along with one another. It was the polar opposite of all the racist, violent, oppressive, negativity that went on in the city center at the time.
We'd delivered everyone really great fun, amazing happy memories & total utter harmony. It really was just that simple.
Unsurprisingly, it gave plod a hard on for us that we've still never been able to properly shake, but we've learned to just live with that - Omelettes, eggs etc.
Fashion tips & a tiny corner
Below you can see Tommy in the Trent, sat beneath a Beach party poster, playing ‘Green Beret’ video game, which was the height of entertainment technology, at a time when Liberto Chinos & fly Italian shirts were the Soul Boy uniform of choice...
We still have this tiny corner (see below) of that exact, same original poster.
No idea where the rest of it went, but this daft little bit of paper is now one of our most treasured possessions, for all the amazing memories it holds.
That was a proper do & it planted the seed in us. We knew that if we could realise an event as complex as the Beach Party, then surely we had the skills & could muster enough support, to legitimise this kinda caper, in the real world.
We dreamed of building some kind of permanent, legal & legitimate scene for us to party in. Somewhere like a proper Club, where we could expand our multiracial Trent groove, that people seemed so up for.
So we began to focus on working in Clubs, playing records at night once the Bar shut. Avoiding all the mainstream places & always doing it on our own terms – To see what crazy places that might lead us…
The Dawn of Rave Culture
This was just as well, as the sudden arrival of designer Club drugs a couple of years later, blew the whole 80s outdoor scene apart & all but killed off any opportunities to do the kind of safe, cool, fun, underground parties we had pioneered.
The rise of pills attracted a different crowd…
Once the 90’s dawned, charvers & gangsters poured into the scene & all the credibility, innocence & merit, in doing underground party activity was lost…
Pop! Just like that..!
It became one big hassle, then kinda petered out, to be replaced by Raves & all the other pantomime stuff & nonsense that came with them.
We’d been there, done it & got the T shirts, way before all those daft Gibbons discovered that a scene like that was even possible.
More to the point, it wasn’t cool anymore.
So we binned it.
Time to stop scurrying about on beaches like outlaws & go back to the city & change that instead.