Monday, 18 May 2015

Freedom to Dance?

If I can just get my teeth back in, I'll say something about The Arches.

Back when I was a lad, I used to like to go raving. I didn't take the ecstasy, I used to get very tired at about two in the morning, and wish that I could go home and have a sleep. I did like the music, though, and the dancing. If senility isn't set too deep, I have plenty of funny stories about my dancing days, that probably won't raise a laugh unless the listener was there with me.

Still, I can remember the cold, harsh wind of the Criminal Justice Bill, the massive ruckus whenever the police decided to 'contain' the protests and the sense of exclusion generated by a tame media that was describing me and my mates as drug-crazed degenerates. Sometimes, I refer to the rave era as 'a revolution that failed' and imagine that I am some Che Guevara character in defeat, trying to recapture the excitement of those early warehouse parties, when I did the running man to put the world to rights.

And like many of my contemporaries who park up the zimmer frames and limp sadly into clubs, I reckon the spirit has gone out of the scene. But that is because I am old, the beautiful women ignore me and they don't serve vintage whisky at the bar. If I don't feel like a revolutionary anymore, that is hardly the fault of the DJ.

Where was I? Just let me take my medication...

Right, yes: clubbing was a political action. There was plenty of chat about equality, about music that bought together the gay and the straight, the black and the white, the rich, the poor, the rural and the urban. Of course most of it was chat, and the egalitarian ambitions of raving soon divided into the sectarian genres of garage, drum'n'bass, old school and so on and so on. But once the press got over-excited about the thought of young people having a laugh, the very act of turning up and throwing a few shapes became dangerous. 

I haven't got into the reasons for The Arches' loss of licence yet: I have a vague suspicion that the Glasgow Police Force has had a bit of a hard-on for getting it shut of late, and there are a few entertaining, if unlikely, conspiracy theories going about. But this is a howl of rage, and disappointment until I can become more articulate about it.

I can't help thinking that dancing is still something that frightens the forces of Law and Order, and that there is a political agenda behind the activities of the GPF.  I am going to investigate this, just as soon as I've had my afternoon nap.

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