Spirit of Manchester’s rave culture remembered in online audio map

(Originally published on Quays News, December 15, 2017)

THE Lapsed Clubber project seeks to give Mancunians the opportunity to indulge in memories from the heights of rave culture.

A group in Manchester are producing an online interactive audio map of the city, documenting the public’s memories of the rave and clubbing scene which was prominent in Manchester over 20 years ago.

The project, which looks specifically at the decade between 1985 and 1995, is led by Dr Beate Peter, but is a collective effort by a community of ‘Lapsed Clubbers’.

 https://twitter.com/DrBeatePeter/status/939170024228614144

The catalyst for the idea, an exhibition  in 2015 which displayed visitor’s pictures from back in their raving days, renewed Beate’s interest in the idea of youth culture, and how it continues to evolve.

The Manchester music scene is often depicted in popular culture and the media, yet the Lapsed Clubbers Audio Map endeavours to make the era more personal, with intimate recounts and memories from people who were right there within it.

Beate Peter, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The common perception of any youth culture is that you are part of it whilst you are a teenager and grow out of it. In recent academic research, the idea of youth culture is no longer restricted to age, as people continue to engage with it as they grow up.”

The term ‘Lapsed Clubber’, Beate explained, refers to a term used by market researchers to describe a group of people who no longer go clubbing. She said: “I looked at some market research which referred to people who were choosy about venues and performances as ‘Lost Clubbers’.”

“They don’t go clubbing anymore but they do have disposable income, they are not to be underestimated.”

Beate is keen to uncover memories of the era, and take individuals back to a place filled with yellow smiley faces.

“The Lost Clubbers are people who are in fact not lost, but have added commitments and have settled down. They still do all the other things, but not as frequently. Lots of research has been taken out on young people as part of youth culture but I am interested in people being part of a youth culture when they have grown up.”

Focusing on the raving landscape between 1985 and 1995, the map, hosted by the Manchester Digital Music Archive, will be driven by community input, with individuals given the chance to write their own rave history.

It was decided to remain exclusive to these years, as the late 1980s witnessed the dawn of clubbing and rave culture, and conclude just after 1994, when the government passed Section 63 of the Criminal Justice Act. This bill gave the police the power to shut down events featuring music that’s “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”

Many revolted against the bill, with protests across the country. This included one protest in Hyde Park in October 1994, which followed a peaceful march chaired by Jeremy Corbyn.

Beate said: “Because of the 1994 Act, what previously had happened in unlicensed and underground venues was forced to move inside, which changed the whole character of the culture. We decided upon the decade as it includes the early days, the hey day and the ending, of sorts.”

The map will be interactive and allow online visitors to not only search geographically, but search in categories decided by the team, these include: ‘Firsts’, clothing, venues and many more.

Beate hopes that this will provide different aspects to the experiences of the contributors.

“Some people have individual experiences that only they can relate to. They can be at the same venue and feel the same things in the atmosphere in a very similar way but memories are always very personal so they will never be the same.

Particularly in rave culture people tend to tap into a collective memory, very much informed by public images and media images. They might not necessarily be personal memories so what we wanted to capture in the map was very distinct personal memories.”

There will be an event on March 26 at the Old Cornerhouse on Oxford Road, to welcome the public to see the first version of the map, prior to the memories being introduced. They will also have the opportunity to record their own memories at the event.

The project began in June this year, and will conclude in June 2018, with the map revealed as part of the Manchester Histories Festival on 9 June.

More information can be found here.

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