Last weekend I, like many other dull hipsters, was at Bloc in Minehead. It was, as my review laid out pretty clearly, an amazing weekend. Just as it had been in years before. Me and my best mates, packed in under a big top, watching world class DJs, barely sleeping, eating chips. That sort of thing. When I got back I wrote a review of the weekend that reflected this. I still think that.
"Dull hispters in broad daylight," is an article, no, a soliloquy, written by George Hull, one of the founders of Bloc. In a nutshell the piece, published in popular rave zine The Spectator, is an all out assault on the entire audience that just lined his pockets with £180 tickets to his festival. It is, in essence, a weird cobbled together attempt at cultural comment, that basically suggests "raving isn't as good as it used to be because kids these days are squares." Seriously, that's what it says. According to George, the modern hipster—a "subculture so spineless it had to borrow its name from its parents"—likes dance music but lacks the abandon or recklessness that made the good old days so good.
Because they were, weren't they? The old days? Raving it up in a field with a pinger (stronger than the ones you get now) while a DJ (better at mixing than the ones you get now) spun tunes (fatter than the shit you listen to now) out into the stretches of a warehouse (bigger than the ones you party in now) while we all scuffed up our trainers (more comfortable than the ones you wear now) on the dusty concrete floor (dustier than the concrete floors you walk on now) and coughed (out of lungs which were way more legendary at breathing than yours) on cigarette smoke (which was more addictive back in the day) and Bez was there.
Perhaps inevitably given the publication, although still disappointingly, the article quickly derails into a vintage slice of old white man ranting about safe spaces. As George sees it, the idea of making nightclubs inclusive is a "depressing trend" and one that is borrowed from student unions. He then goes on to say the following, "the rave was supposed to feel like a distinctly unsafe space." This line jars immediately, perhaps because it feels like George is mixing up his mythologies. God knows we hear enough dewy-eyed nostalgia about the golden days of the second summer of love, but it's normally predicated with the assertion that the rave was all inclusive. It was a place where regardless of gender or ethnicity, all peoples came together under the same roof and shared in communal ecstasy. Right?
Apparently not, as George sees it the raves of yore were actually about a sense of danger, a "vaguely threatening environment," where you find yourself "surrounded by questionable people." It's nice George is able to look back on his youth with such fondness, even if his descriptions of raves come off more like descriptions of dogging, but it's worth calculating what the actual risks for him were, and are. What to him might be vaguely threatening, to others might mean sexual assault, verbal abuse, and getting followed home. The questionable people tend not to prey on the large dominant groups of white males bombing around the place like there's nothing to be afraid of. You don't need a safe space George, because as far as you see it the worst thing that can happen on a night out is "being sick all over your new trainers."
In George's words, making sure a "party will be properly supported, represented and instructed" is "the opposite of fun." This is an old white man literally telling us that diversity is the opposite of fun.
It's also worth noting that George celebrates the "Thatcherite spirit" of the original rave days. That's one thing in itself, but he then goes on to lay into generation dull hipster for the following: "regulatory pressures," the need to submit coursework, and simply not wanting to stay out late. Well these regulatory pressures, perhaps most sternly locked in by the The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 brought in by Major's government, are most definitely in the Thatcherite spirit of curtailing and curfewing events in public spaces—something that has continued throughout the terms of this current Conservative government. The need to submit coursework might come from the fear most university students suffer from at the prospect of leaving university with in excess of £20,000 worth of debt—a figure that makes getting your work in on time seem a little more pressing, and the thought of "dropping out to become a rave promoter" less so. There's also the small matter of local councils and licensing boards swallowing our nightclubs up faster than the hallowed ravers of '88 swallowed those extra strong pingers. God bless that Thatcherite spirit, ey?
Oh and the reason everyone is a vegan now is actually solely down to this really great black bean and tofu stir fry recipe I've got. And you know what George? You can't have it mate. I'm not going to let you in on my black bean and tofu stir fry recipe now you've said all these mean things.
This article isn't about raving. It's not about a generation lost to safe spaces, nor is it about veganism, or wifi, or DJs, or curfews. This is a mid-life crisis. It's a man struggling to understand a new way of communicating with the world, a new way of communicating with other people, and as such panicking. Yes, it is a thousand times harder for our generation to rave than it was for his, but shame on him for relying on vague anecdotalism to turn on us rather than the exterior forces (courtesy of his generation) that are causing these issues. Lesson learnt: don't write Spectator articles on a comedown.
I was at Bloc, and without wishing to go down any shit drug story rabbit-hole, this generation is doing hedonism just fine: most people I was with slept during the day if they slept at all. It makes me sad to write this, because Bloc is one of my favourite festivals, but what this article has made me realise is that perhaps, rather than the ethos of the organisers, the real thing that made Bloc so special was the people I partied with. People my age, my "generation," who turned three days at Butlins into an intense, relentless, inspiring and hugely memorable experience. You know what, I'd rather be generation dull hipster, than generation bitter Tory.
Also, don't take shots at safe spaces and then throw a rave at Butlins.