Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Trade: Last Dance

Considering the recent club closures, and the increasingly identikit options that are left, that an ordinary night out in London might entail club-hopping around Soho, scooting across the central line to an east London warehouse rave and then ending up at a club in a disused toilet until lunchtime the next day feels like something from an alternate universe. Or just plain made up.

But that’s exactly what used to happen when Trade began in November, 1990. It was London’s first legal carry-on party, which raged at the now-defunct Turnmills in Clerkenwell from 3am every Sunday, and kickstarted an intrepid after-hours clubbing scene that would last two decades. Masterminded by Laurence Malice, it was billed as a gay club but it attracted a diverse crowd and, thanks to its DJs like Tony De Vit, became famous for pushing the breakneck hard house sound (“he took techno and basically camped it up a bit,” says Malice).

At the time, most clubs ended at 2 or 3am and after-hours parties were illicit, even dangerous. The Aids epidemic had also erupted and Malice wanted to create a safe environment for gay men – with a pumping soundtrack. “It was a ridiculously homophobic time,” says Malice. “No one knew what Aids was about so you would have guys leaving clubs at 3am and they wanted to meet, get off with people, whatever, and they were being attacked.” It’s why Trade’s assorted audience was so important. “I wanted straight people to show that gay people are not a problem – that we can mix.”

This inclusivity is one of the most significant aspects of Trade’s legacy, inspired in part by acid house’s togetherness rather than the attitudinal, fashion-focused clubs of the 80s. “It was a crazy group of characters from different walks of life: rent boys, trannies, working girls, muscle marys, industry people,” says regular Trade DJ Smokin Jo of the club’s clientele. “It was such a mixed bag and that added to the fun. It wasn’t a serious night full of musos, it was everyone there with their hands in the air going crazy.” An article first printed in 1994 in Gay Times, now republished on digital dance music anthology DJ History, perhaps sums up Trade’s significance best: “Here there’s a real sense of belonging, of community,” says its writer Richard Smith. “Coming here did me at least as much good as coming out.” ...

Kate Hutchinson, The Guardian.

That article by Richard Smith really is brilliant!

Trade The Final - billed as the last ever Trade - is at Egg London, Sunday October 25th.

Trade: Often Copied, Never Equalled - an exhibition on 25 years of Trade - is at Islington Museum from Friday.

David Hudson writes about the end of Trade here.

Guardian online ran a guide to gay London last week, not sure why.

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