Soul Boys, Ravers and Pillheads: Sweaty Photos of Classic British Club Culture

We got a special selection of images from Lost in Music, an upcoming photography exhibition that charts the history of dance music and club culture.

by Jamie Clifton
03 December 2015, 11:34am

The UK has the best club culture in the world. That might sound biased – given that, you know, I'm from the UK, and therefore grew up on speaker stacks and squat, stocky men eyeballing my fake ID and 45-year-old divorcee pillheads losing half their body water in sweat at drum-and-bass parties – but it's true. Germany might have Berlin and the States might have Miami, but the UK's got London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and, if you're into really gabber and/or not paying very much for alcohol, Glasgow.

Tomorrow, London's theprintspace are launching Lost in Music, an exhibition that charts the history of dance music and club culture with a collection of 500 images. They're kicking everything off with a party at Shoreditch's Village Underground, which is completely free; just turn up after 9PM, first come, first served.

The exhibition will span a number of countries – basically anywhere a culture has developed around clubbing – but theprintspace kindly sent us the photos below that show the many eras of British nightlife over the past 40 years.

A Northern Soul dancer, Wigan Casino, Wigan, 1976 (© Red Saunders)

Shades Disco, Manor House, London, 1978 (© Jill Furmanovsky/PYMCA)

Eric's, Liverpool, 1978 (© Kevin Cummins)

Mod girls, London, 1980 (© Peter Anderson/PYMCA)

Three skinheads drinking, with one showing his "Kill Mods" tattoo, 1980s (© Peter Anderson/PYMCA)

London, 1980s (© Ted Polhemus/PYMCA)

A group of breakdancers, London, 1983 (© Clare Muller/PYMCA)

Fordham Park free festival, London, 1983 (© Martyn Goodacre)

Fordham Park free festival, London, 1983 (© Martyn Goodacre)

New Romantics outside Alice in Wonderland, London, 1984 (© Hartnett/PYMCA)

Dynamite 3 MCs at Brixton Fridge, London, 1985 (© Normski/PYMCA)

Hacienda, Manchester, 1988 (© Kevin Cummins)

Ravers outside "The Trip", Astoria, London, 1988 (© Marcus Graham/PYMCA)

Hacienda, Manchester, 1989 (© Peter J Walsh/PYMCA)

A B-boy, Bournemouth, 1990 (© Guy Isherwood)

Goldie at Metalheadz, London, 1994 (© Eddie Otchere)

Pushca white ball party in a warehouse, West London, 1995 (© Daniel Newman)

Freedom at Bagleys, London, 1998 (© Dave Swindells)

Northern Soul fans at Mousetrap Club, London, 1998 (© Rebecca Lewis/PYMCA)

Gatecrasher's seventh birthday, 2001 (© Tristan O'Neill)

Cameos Nightclub, Peckham, London, 2003 (© David Titlow)

The BBC Asian Network tent at the London Mela, mid-2000s (© Jocelyn Bain Hogg/VII)

MC Tempo at Once Upon a Grime's fifth birthday, 2015 (© Wot Do You Call It)

The "Lost in Music" show is on for one night this Friday the 4th of December at Village Underground, Shoreditch. It will then re-open from the 4th to the 17th of February at theprintspace gallery, 74 Kingsland Road, which is open from 9AM to 7PM, Monday to Friday.

At the Village Underground party in Shoreditch this Friday, there will be DJ sets from photographer Dean Chalkley, World Dance's Simon Kurrage, photographer Gavin Mills, the Balearic Queen Nancy Noise, acid house pioneer Danny Rampling and Ministry of Sound's Shea Burke, along with performances throughout the night from special guest Shovell, The Drum Warrior.