Thursday, April 30, 2009

LOVE AND HAIGHT

When I lived in San Francisco, I was hugely into drum n’ bass music. I went to as many shows as possible and loved the little house parties where local DJs would spin. One late-night party I went to, probably in 1997, was on Haight Street in a classic two story Victorian railroad car-style apartment. It was a small crowd, the music was cool, and there were random people milling around. Pot smoke was in the air and 40 oz. bottles were scattered on the floor.

One of the things I loved about jungle and DnB was that the scene was really inclusive because there really was no “scene” in the US up to that point. Blacks, whites, Asians and Mexicans all crowded into these small dark spaces and tapped into the intense energy pumping through the speakers. It was a form of dance music that captured the best of punk, rap, reggae and house music and twisted it into crazy, pulse-pounding, soulful assault. The only comparison I could make to surfing was that over the course of a DJ’s set, this seamless blend of bass-heavy rhythms would force you to be in the moment— completely unaware of anything else.

So anyway, I was at this party on Haight for a few hours and the music was blaring and the lights were down. I decided to call it a night and headed downstairs with my friends. On the way down, I passed a guy in a crooked baseball cap and oversized hoodie. As he squeezed by I heard him say, “Fuckin’ mod.”

I looked back, half expecting to see the cast of Quadrophenia behind me, but then I realized from his glare that his comment was directed at me. I definitely didn’t consider myself “mod,” (whatever that meant) but I wasn’t dressed like him either. I believe I was wearing a pea coat. I walked out the door into the foggy SF night wondering where the hate was coming from.

Soon after, I started to notice a shift in drum n’ bass music. What was once a friendly ragga-influenced “jungle” sound morphed into the more aggressive, twisted, mechanical “darkstep” sound. The little clubs that were once filled with eccentric kids, ethnic girls and Brit transplants all freaking out were supplanted by scenes where dudes would park on the dancefoor with their hoods up and bob their heads in time with the rapidfire beats. In the early ‘90s, Brit MCs would call these dudes “bloodclots.” The last DnB party I went to—at a club in East Hollywood probably around 2001—came to a screeching halt when there was a shooting in front. The bloodcots had taken over.

I still listen to jungle and drum n’ bass from the time that I consider the “golden age.” I was thumbing through an old sketchbook from the late-90s and found the doodle above , with a hand made flyer some kid gave me on the lower Haight.


One and Only - Various Artists


The Lighter - DJ SS

12 comments:

Jamie Watson said...

This is such a cool post! I nearly forgot about this music. I like your drawing. What is that shape in the street? It looks like a sourdough baguette. Plus there is a potato in the sky. I think you were stoned and hungry when you drew this.

Jamie Watson said...

I hope you totally know I'm kidding you about the drawing and being stoned.

Chum said...

Hey. Yeah, sourdough baguette is the tamest thing people have compared my clouds and trees to. SF sourdough is great though, and you don't necessarily have to have the munchies to crave a loaf!

Gaz said...

"Bloodclots" classic slam! Life's full of 'em.

Gaz said...

Oh and that was a great personal post too R. Well done. Reminded me of Foulie for some reason. :-)

Eddie Money said...

dude! I loved me some drum n bass. loved it.

I still pull out Breakbeat Era's megamix on the odd full moon. and favs were tabla beat science and the Db's (nautilus!).

thanx for bringing it back, time to go back and dig in itunes.

rye said...

great stuff so true.

z said...

This is the strangest post to find here! I was in SF then DJing (DJ Rue) at those parties. I always find it strange to hear of people's drum & bass histories.

Chum said...

That name sounds familiar, actually, Z. I was friends with Dom Some and JP (Jean Paul) who ended up doing some great 2Step parties after DnB got less fun.

Doc said...

All you Punks and all you Teds, National Front and Natty Dreads, Mods, Rockers, Hippies and Skinheads. Keep on fighting till
you're dead.

Do The Dog

surferbrat said...

Wow. DJ SS! I loved him. I had a similar experience with dance parties on the East coast in Baltimore and DC. By the time I moved to SF in 1999, I'm pretty sure the scene was completely dead, and my love for electronic music was also on it's way out. It's funny to hear another surfer relate this to that same state of being in the moment that riding a wave does, because going to warehouse parties and dancing until all hours of the morning was the only other thing I've ever cared about as much as surfing. Well, besides the obvious (my family, friends, photography). It ave me the same high, the same peace, and the same careless expression of the present.

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