My friend Christopher English has just written a piece entitled “How “A Short Film About Chilling” Captured a Bygone Golden Era of Ibizan Club Culture”. The essay gives an insight into the making of the “seminal” documentary which followed the Flying trip to Ibiza in 1990. Published by Thump (who are part of Vice) it includes interviews with Kevin Sampson (then manager of The Farm), Angus Cameron (Director), Sally Rodgers (A Man Called Adam), and Terry Farley (Boy`s Own).
I was old enough to go on the Ibiza 90 trip organized by Charlie Chester, but I didn`t, despite being a regular at nights like The Yellow Book, Flying and Ophelia, which were linked to Chester and Boy`s Own. My girlfriend at the time was studying for a set of legal exams, and although we`d both partied continuously for a couple of years she was coming to her senses and wanted to get on with her life (she`s doing pretty well). She, obviously, was the sensible one. At that point I wasn`t crazy enough to consider going without her. In hindsight 1990 was a peak in the whole Balearic Beat / Acid House thing, not necessarily the best times, this was no longer new, but the year when the “scene” began to alter, grow and fragment.
In 1990 I was on the outer edges of a clique, a second or third level foot solider. I was always out on the dancefloor, but no one knew who I was. I had moved from rough Catford raves into a West London-dominated crowd that had taken the party back indoors and started to dress-up again, to distance themselves from tabloid cameras and reporters, and “The Teds”. A snobbery had set in, but within that snobbery people were still tolerant and open-minded (they just didn`t want to mix with folks coming up for the first time and shouting “Accccieeedddd!”), Ecstasy remained (largely) the drug and the message was still emphatically “Love”. The musical backdrop all encompassing. An eclecticism based on Alfredo`s box, plundered by and translated through Danny. Young MC next to Grace Jones next to Blaze. The old favourites got played. We were together, and “A Short Film About Chilling” captures this, in a way, a snapshot of an innocence soon to be lost. An innocence despite the majority being dodgy girls and geezers, all drug users if not addicts (N.B. It doesn`t however capture that innocence as beautifully as Wiz`s footage. If someone has a copy of this video, I would really love one).
After the “Ibzia 90” trip I think the party became business, definitely driven by an unwilling-ness to return to a regular 9 to 5, but also because it became clear that there was money to be made. “Spinners” started producing music, promoters started record labels (you could shift tens of thousands of a dance 12 pre-mp3). Events became bigger and birthed the much-hated “20 DJs In A Night” Line-up. A lot of coke came in, and divisions formed. Tracks were remixed specifically for a market or now markets. Musically, the eclecticism was gone, you couldn`t like one thing and yet like another. So you`d get Techno nights, Garage nights, and the soundtrack became perfectly beat-matched but monotonous. Bored, instead of moving away (I was later forced to) I took more drugs. Last year I interviewed a lot of the original Spanish, Argentinian, and Italian DJs who built the “Balearic Beat” (they don`t call it this by the way). One question on my list was “Did House music change Ibiza?” The answer was always the same. “No. The English did.”
I watched the documentary again this morning and I think the best thing about it is the way it cuts between clubs and countryside, between clubbers and locals going about their day-to-day lives. This does somehow convey the magic of the island. Its beauty is always there in the background. For those not old enough to remember Acid House or 1990, it might seem a bit naïve and amateurish, but the conversion and commitment to the possibility of a life alternative to the one expected of them in the people on camera is clear. I`m lucky enough to have seen the rushes (Apiento did a nice edit here), and these should also be made public, since they better convey the energy, abandon and joy. Everyone dancing, shouting, laughing. Smiling. No self-conscious talking heads. It didn`t make me feel nostalgic (except for hearing The Grid and Primal Scream). It was a revolution, like the First Summer Of Love in the `60s, and Punk in the `70s, and in exactly the same way it was very quickly commercialized and capitalized upon. It was a moment in time, and there ain`t never no going back. Here`s to the next one.
You can read Chris` piece and watch clips from the documentary here.