Thursday 9 June 2011

Cultural analysis: Donnie Warehouse

Today I'm looking at early 1990s rave culture. Specifically, this video from Doncaster's BYO which my friend Ed pointed me in the direction of. The BYO was like any number of clubs which sprung up in the same period: unlicensed venues where patrons had to bring their own drink. Or whatever else they were planning on taking. If you know what I mean.

What I mean is drugs.

This video was taken by club security at the time. We can only thank the great googly moogly that it has now made its way onto the internet. It's an extraordinary historical document, like finding CCTV footage of the Battle of Hastings or something. It's 15 minutes long, so there's quite a bit to get through. But don't be intimidated, below the clip I have included some annotations. Think of them as a Lett's Revision Guide.

Video clip

0:10 It probably helps to think of this as a narrative drama. There are certainly starring players. At this early stage you can see the outright star of the piece, Unbelievably Together Woman, just to the right of centre. Unbelievably Together Woman is at the eye of this particular hurricane. She is in a zone where she seems completely optimised to get the very most out of her club experience without any grinding come down later. I'd not be surprised if she weighed herself on a medical balance before administering the precise amount of stimulant required, taking longevity and activity level into account. On the left of the picture is one of the supporting players, The Grand Old Duke of York. The Grand Old Duke of York has been spectacularly well served and now seems unable to do anything but grin with a childlike innocence and march up and down on the spot. I'd not be surprised if he was still there now, aged nearly 50, marching up and down in a three-foot deep crater.

0:47 White Glove Dungarees Man appears for the first time. He makes a number of exceptional cameos. Unlike everyone else in the entire warehouse, he has imbibed no substances of any kind at all, he's just there to show off all his best moves. Pierrot-influenced dancing was popular in this time period, a fact which future historians will be completely powerless to explain.

1:24 One of my favourite characters shows his hand. Shoulder Rub Man is well into the whole scene and makes the most of the loved-up vibe to dispense a series of unsolicited neck massages. The best of these is without doubt at 2:03, where he sends out some go-go-Gadget arms to reach down to the front of the scene.

2:10 Our other starring protagonist appears for the first time. Billy Bragg's Cumface Man is having the time of his life, gurning and Ian Curtis dancing his night away. Meanwhile, as the crowd are exhorted to 'put their arms in the air', the man behind Billy Bragg's Cumface Man does so in a style which seems to have been heavily influenced by The World At War.

2:39 Like Romeo and Juliet, or Terry and June, here we see our two stars dancing together. Unbelievably Together Woman seems more composed, if I'm honest. At 3:00 Billy Bragg's Cumface Man is trying some basic social interactions with those around him - i.e. eye contact - but it's proving difficult. There's only one thing to do - by 3:50 the pistols are out. Double pistols!

4:55 Unbelievably Together Woman is living up to her name, demonstrating some really quite high end cognitive functions: speech! laughter! interaction! Billy Bragg's Cumface Man is busily chewing on his own tonsils. By 5:10 he's throwing shapes the like of which have never been seen.

5:40 Further interaction between Unbelievably Together Woman and Unbelievably Together Woman's Dreadlocked Friend serves only as a stark juxtaposition with Billy Bragg's Cumface Man's continuing grapple with his own sense of self.

6:35 Unbelievably Together Woman has been largely ignoring Billy Bragg's Cumface Man up to this point but now there are the first glimses of some connection between them. Billy Bragg's Cumface Man is the person who tries the first move. Method: pistols. And gurning.

7:00 Excitingly, by this point White Glove Dungarees Man has worked his way back into frame. His French Street Theatre influences are clear for all to see.

7:18 A frisson of romantic excitement, as Unbelievably Together Woman finally clocks Billy Bragg's Cumface Man for a fraction of a second. Sneaking into the left of the shot here, and clearly visible from 7:55 is Incredibly Early-1990s Hair Woman.

8:40 The burgeoning love affair could be threatened as Gangling Dance Man moves in between Unbelievably Together Woman and Billy Bragg's Cumface Man. Billy Bragg's Cumface Man's face is shot through with as many questions as his brain is capable of posing at this stage.

9:25 As a brief interlude, we look at Blonde-Haired White Gloves Woman. More pierrot moves.

10:44 We see the MC. He's kept us on the edge of our seat so far, so it's nice he gets a look-in.

11:45 One of the late stars of the piece, Fiercely Spirited Dancing Thin Woman makes her entrance.

12:05 Unbelievably Together Woman continues to astound. She is now singing along with the music, barely a drop of sweat having left her body. Meanwhile, to all sides are a series of discarded kidneys.

12:52 A look along the rafter monkeys reveals Very Suspicious Man. Arms folded and as alert as a meerkat, you could maybe think he was a drug dealer if you work on the assumption drug dealers like to advertise by looking like the shiftiest shithouse rat on earth. In fact, Very Suspicious Man is just a distant relative of The Grand Old Duke of York.

13:35 Fiercely Spirited Dancing Thin Woman is really going some now. It's no wonder, as they've just dropped Poing by The Rotterdam Termination Force.

14:25 As a final flourish, Middle Aged Man in a Hooped Shirt throws some exotic shapes.

I should probably add that, in my version of events, Unbelievably Together Woman and Billy Bragg's Cumface Man got together at the end of the night and are now happily married and live in Bingley with two teenage children.


Jessica said...

I need some white gloves.

Jessica said...

And drugs.

alicestronaut said...

we ought to recreate this this new year

dotmund said...

As a happy coincidence, we often manage to achieve this without even really trying!

Charis said...

Ahhh the memories (or lack of)!


You have reached the bottom of the internet