Jeremy Deller’s documentary Everybody In The Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984 – 1992 is one of the best films ever made about this subject. All I can say is that everything about this is Punk AF and spot on! The connection between Dance music culture, Dancehall, Sound System Culture, Hip Hop, and Punk. If you love underground music, this is a must-see film!
An excellent acid house documentary by Jeremy Deller. Acid house is often portrayed as a movement that came out of the blue, inspired by little more than a handful of London-based DJs discovering ecstasy on a 1987 holiday to Ibiza. In truth, the explosion of acid house and rave in the UK was a reaction to a much wider and deeper set of fault lines in British culture, stretching from the heart of the city to the furthest reaches of the countryside, cutting across previously impregnable boundaries of class, identity, and geography. With Everybody in the Place, the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller upturns popular notions of rave and acid house, situating them at the very center of the seismic social changes that reshaped 1980s Britain. Rare and unseen archive materials map the journey from protest movements to abandoned warehouse raves, the white heat of industry bleeding into the chaotic release of the dancefloor. We join an A-level politics class as they discover these stories for the first time, viewing the story of acid house from the perspective of a generation for whom it is already ancient history. We see how rave culture owes as much to the Battle of Orgreave and the underground gay clubs of Chicago as it does to shifts in musical style: not merely a cultural gesture, but the fulcrum for a generational shift in British identity, linking industrial histories and radical action to the wider expanses of a post-industrial future.Jeremy Deller
This rad conversation with Jeremy Deller took place between him and Face Magazine.
What was it that ignited this project?
Well I was asked to do it [laughs]. I’ve made quite a bit of work about it before so it was clearly something I was interested in anyway. I’ve always been interested in that side of British life, history and society. Because when it was happening, it was clear that something was happening. It wasn’t just a fad. It was clear that a social change was happening and that was interesting to me – how popular culture drives social change.
Did you learn anything unexpected in the process?
That the gay roots in house music are really fundamental to the story. The interesting thing about acid house was the broad spectrum of people [that it involved]. In America it was very defined, initially. So that was interesting, the way it started and the way it was picked up in Britain and expanded to everyone. It was a movement that was very much for everybody.
How do you think the political climate in Everybody in the Place compares to the climate right now?
Well, I think in as much as it was Conservative – the Conservatives had been in power for seven or eight years. I mean, we’re getting to that point now with a very unpopular leader. A lot of people really don’t like him, they know what kind of person he is. He’s the kind of person that represents the past to them, the kind of older person who has views that go against the progressive way in which people are starting to move and think. They’re also really unhappy about Europe. I think young people are really angry, and I think it’s definitely going to feed into the music. I mean, it already has. It is strangely similar even though the music in some ways is very different. It’s full of lyrical content, whereas acid house was often more instrumental. The cleverness of the lyrics and the skill in the lyricism. There was none of that.
You presented the rave seminar in a school, how was it received by the pupils?
I think some of the things I showed them made them aware of new things. They weren’t aware of the miner’s strikes. Strikes just don’t really happen [now], do they? I don’t think they were aware of most of the things I showed them. Like footage from Stonehenge, for example. I think the biggest surprise was that this was a world before the internet and mobile phones.
Skepta recently put on a gig at Manchester International Festival called Dystopia987…
Yeah I went to it.
How was it?
There wasn’t a single phone in sight. It was amazing. People were going berserk, but I don’t know what people do at Skepta’s gigs normally.
They go berserk, but there are phones.
He had a very elaborate set with elaborate staging – a kind of scaffolded pyramid with projections. It was very sci-fi. People were just totally in the moment. I’m not sure if people were doing drugs though. My theory is that now people probably do a drug once, and then they remember what it was like when they go out and replicate that feeling. It was as if you needed the drug in the ‘80s. The reason there’s not really much talk of drugs in the film is because you can’t talk about them you have to be very careful about how you discuss that subject when you’re in a school. The head teacher said to me, “If you say anything at all that promotes the taking of drugs, I’ll have to stop the lessons.”
So I thought, right I won’t mention them at all – well, I mentioned them once. You can make a film about this subject without mentioning drugs. I wanted to make a film that took a step back from the usual narrative and saw this quite brief period of time in a historical continuum. It’s basically a step back to see what else happened before and around it to try and explain why it happened. There were other reasons why it happened, social and political reasons that explain why it was so loved and adopted by young people.