The Definitive History Of UK Dance Music?

Radio 2's Dance Season

Ok I should I really be pointing my finger at another part of the BBC? Yes because they will never learn if someone does not say something, even if its going to be a moan and groan.

BBC Radio 2 have been running a season of programming around dance music, so I checked it out and was for most of it pretty happy with what I heard. I mean these guys went way back, back to the northern soul, disco and casino era. It was good to hear this because all the other documentatries about dance music have made it out like it totally came from America and we just adopted it. Nope you can certainly see how everything was being put in place including the soul weekenders. Anyway slowly we get into the warehouse scene and lots of talk about where the music was coming from. At once again for the first time, finally we hear it wasn't just from a bunch of djs going to Ibiza and trying to create the same vibe in England. So I'm thinking wow, this might actually live up to the name of The Definitive History Of UK Dance Music. Then we hit 88 and 89…

Things get a little hazy in the reporting and acid house is mentioned but not as much as I thought they would have. Hey at least they played Acid Trax by Phuture (the first acid record). The reporting picks up again and there on the ball again about things like the free parties, criminal justice bill, etc. But 1993 comes and there is a mention that hardcore split into many genres but you know what. Happy Hardcore never gets mentioned!

Instead theres lots of talk about Jungle, Garage (funny enough not much about Drum & Bass). And on the other side lots of talk about House, Progressive House and techno but once again nothing about Happy Hardcore. You could say they tried to mix it in with techno but Carl Cox and Derek May doesn't play happy hardcore and would be the wrong people to talk about it. Thinking about it Gabba and European Techno influenced music (think TTF, Scott Brown, Bass Generator), didn't get a mention either, which is strange because it seemed so popular up in Scotland with massive rave events like Rezerection. Actually from the Rez website.

New Years Eve 1993 proved to be a watershed event for Rezerection, as 1994 saw the demise for the traditional London style breakbeat sound favoured by the regular Rez DJs like Grooverider, SS and Seduction. The new Rez sound was heavily influenced by the Dutch and German hardcore scenes and the likes of Westbam, Tanith, Dye Witness and GTO took over from Grooverider, SS and N-Joi as hard trance, bouncy techno and gabba dominated the Scottish scene.

Like I said its more a moan and groan than anything, but I remember growing not listening to BBC Radio 1 for this almost exact reason. There was no place for happy hardcore on radio 1. It was rejected then because it was seen as cheesy, too happy, etc. And obviously thats has carried on through because never mentioned in this definitive history of dance music…! I was also going to make the point that Trance also got very little attention in the documentary. I'm not sure why, but at least it got mentioned and I guess Underworld, Sasha, etc are pretty close to trance.

Anyway so in wrapping up the whole documentary, they talked about things like UK only music like Grime, Big Beat (chemical beats or punk house), Bassline, etc. But once again no mention of Happy Hardcore's split into Freeform Hardcore, Hard Dance (or Future Dance) and NuEnergy which are all uniquely british.

Don't get me wrong, I don't know too much about music genres but when it comes to Happy Hardcore, I know what I'm talking about even if I'm a trance head nowadays. It was left out of this documentary and never talked about, shame on you Radio 2!

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.