deep dives

Heller and Farley's Comprehensive History of Clubbing

The legendary duo escort us through their personal history of house music.

by THUMP Staff
02 February 2016, 2:29pm

If there are two blokes in the UK who know a thing or two about clubbing, it's Terry Farley and Pete Heller. The legendary lads are probably the only people in the world who sweated it out at Shoom and worked with Michael Jackson, and if that's not a fact worth celebrating, we don't know what is.

A while back now, they asked us if we'd like them to escort us through the fifteen formative clubs around the world that shaped their understanding of exactly what club culture is. The following list zips from sweaty London gyms to Ibizan terraces, Miami superclubs to grimey warehouses, touching on DJs like Tony Humphries, Danny Rampling and Junior Vasquez.

Without further ado, let this deadly duo take you on a guided tour on the clubs, DJs and records that changed their lives.

1. Crackers

Terry Farley: The breeding ground for what would become the foundations of the London rare groove and early house scenes. Between 1974 and 1979 this Soho basement saw the greatest dance music the USA had to offer and the best dancers London had. The first DJ was Mark Roman, then from '76 George Power took over. They even had a Friday lunchtime session that pulled in hundreds of kids, either bunking off school or college, or Oxford Street shop workers on extended lunch breaks. My musical choice was a 'burn off' classic.

2. The Wag Club

Terry: The DJ at The Wag was, I believe, the legendary Horace Carter and the night was called Black Market. This record got played about three times that night and every time the energy went up. It was still a time when dancing ability counted and some stunning moves were on show that night. The Wag was a fucker to get into due to the head doorman Winston — think Panorama bar tough entry then double it.

3. Busbys

Pete Heller: The best pre-house clubbing was probably Mud Club for me, at Busbys, with Jay Strongman and Mark Moore. I'll go for "Party Time" by Kurtis Blow — a go-go monster that was huge at the time. Just exactly what it was, a real feel good party record. I think the percussion section from Experience Unlimited featured on the track. Go-go had it's all too brief time in the sun and I managed to catch Chuck Brown and Trouble Funk who played some legendary gigs in London and Manchester before UK interest fizzled out.

4. The Raid

Terry: The Raid club was run by two mad characters: Gary Haisman (De-Mob front man who was behind UK top 20 hit "ACIIED") and Starsky. They did one-offs at clubs such as The Limelight, Wag, The 100 Club, as well as warehouse parties in parts of London that nobody ever knew existed such as Dalston and Shoreditch. This was a very early house record that most DJs thought was electro and was massive across the capital. I was lucky enough to be resident warm up DJ at The Raid alongside two fairly unknown London DJs at the time: Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong. One of the first clubs to really get behind house music in London.

5. The London Warehouse Scene

Pete: Around 1984-85 was such an exciting time for me and there were a bunch of great clubs. Shake & Fingerpop, Family Function, Soul II Soul, Westworld, The Do Crew. It was when hip hop was breaking from the electro phase to more sample based grooves and DJs were spending silly money on rare groove 7"s, before labels like Polydor started putting out the old James Brown classics like Bobby Byrd's "I'm Coming." One record I loved back then which really suited the warehouse sound was "Do It Til Your Satisfied" by BT Express. Just a chugging, percussive groove that always sounded so good on a big system.

6. Amnesia/Ku

Terry: On my first trip to Amnesia in '89 the don of Ibiza dons Alfredo played this—the theme from Hill Street Blues—around 11am in the morning as his last record. It was the perfect E record at the perfect time in the best outdoor club Ibiza ever had. It's so sad that the golden era of Ibiza clubs was ruined by its own success. I guess we are all to blame for wanting to join the party. Anyway, I still get chills down my spine listening to this today.

Pete: I'll never forget the opening night in 1989. It was genuinely a legendary night. There an unknown Adamski doing an amazing PA, it was the first time I heard Lil Louis's "French Kiss," the sun came up to the theme from Taxi. It was also the first time I danced to this classic.

7. The Hacienda

Pete: During my Manchester student days, The Hac was just one of the clubs in town we used to frequent. This was before Madchester kicked off, so there were no queues to get in, except on Saturdays. which was moody and a bit shit. Friday (Nude Night) with Mike Pickering and Graeme Park was the proper night where you could hear a whole bunch of different sounds from funk, Northern soul, hip-hop to Latin and the early house tunes which I just thought were faster electro tracks. This one, which Pickering produced, blended his Latin and house sounds and still sounds good.

8. Shoom

Terry: Another night, in the tiny gym basement that changed UK clubbing forever, had come to an end and the lights were on. But the room was still full of sweat and steam, and when Danny Rampling revived this soul classic the whole crowd were holding each other, hands held aloft— E moments don't come much better than that!

Pete: Shoom. Smoke filled, strobe pulsing, sweat pouring, everyone rocking, stomping, whistling jack, jack jack!

9. Future

Terry: Future was Ibiza dance brought to one of London's darkest clubs, with a soundtrack consisting of some of Amnesia DJ Alfredo's rockiest moments. This particular record driving a whole club crazy would have been unthinkable only six months earlier. The dancers were Ibiza workers, DJs and grafters from the just finished 1987 season— they were later called the 'Amnesiacs'. Their dance moves shaped acid house culture the following year. The DJ's at the night initially were Oakey and the amazing Nancy Noise.

10. Boy's Own

Terry: The Boy's Own at East Grinstead has been called by others "the best ever outdoor party of the Acid House era." This track I remember playing as the sun came up around 5am and a flock of geese landed on the lake just by the tent we had pitched up...it's seminal and surreal. Again, it's an Ibiza pop anthem that summed up the scene in London in 1988 .

Pete: I've not much to add to Terry's comments about this wonderful night but earlier in the evening Dave Dorrell dropped this one, fresh from the studio to general mayhem.

11. Back to Basics

Terry: Back to Basics is my favourite Northern club of all time. Dave Beer's mad energy and passion for the music and culture inspires every generation that comes to DJ and dance. I was given an acetate by Pete Tong of this tune to try out and report back...the crowd went crazy!

12. Ministry of Sound

Terry: If I had to sum up the Ministry of Sound, it's got to be the night Tony Humphries played and had a slate of a mix that Pete and myself had done of Boy's Own licensed track "What Would We Do" by DSK. The place was really going off and THAT system was at its finest. I think that was the night a lot of London DJs started to really give us props. Tony and Frankie Knuckles were really instrumental in getting the Fire Island/Roach Motel remixes to break in the UK and the USA.

13. The Sound Factory

Terry: Just as Amnesia in its 87-89 glory will never be beaten in Ibiza I don't think any NYC club or DJ will ever get close to what was achieved by Junior Vasquez at The Sound Factory in the early-mid 90s. One DJ playing from midnight to midday Sunday morning on THE best system in the world to a club of devotees, drag queens, banji boys and the House of Extravaganza. There were no guest DJs— just Junior weaving hard edged tribal into Paradise Garage classics back into tough European house music. This scared the life out of me when I first heard it at the Factory.

Pete: A group of us were in New York to celebrate Danny Rampling's 30th birthday. This was the year that Frankie Knuckles was resident at Sound Factory and the first time I went to the club. It was an incredible night with so many amazing sounds heard for the first time. Sounds of Blackness, "The Pressure", Chaka Khan classics like "Clouds" and "I Know You I Live You." But this I won't forget—lights out and then the piano—still gives me spine tingles.

Pete: Once Junior Vasquez took over things took it was an altogether darker and edgier vibe at Sound Factory. Which was fine by me.

14. Space, Miami

Terry: Danny Tenaglia took over Junior's crown as our king of New York in the late 90's and his annual party at Miami beach's Groove Jet was a yearly pilgrimage for all our crew, and what seemed the cream of the UK's dance scene. I remember Danny debuting this beauty at Groove Jet and the whole crowd singing along to it.

Pete: My favourite moments were at Tribal Records parties with Danny Tenaglia. The dancefloor was always a total crush, but you had to be at this night where Danny redefined what it meant to be taken on a musical journey. From deep dark techno to lush orchestrated vocal house, Danny played it all. Genius. This is the perfect end of night deep track.

15. DC10

Terry: The first time I went to DC10 was in 1999 or 2000, I think, and it was a small outdoor terrace, free to get in and seemed to be like a magical party only the beautiful and crazy (and me) knew about. Danny Tenaglia actually turned up rather refreshed and was asked to DJ. He jumped into a cab mid-afternoon and returned with a box of treasures. Walking into DC10 that afternoon reminded me of Shoom in that it was like this amazing secret that only a few knew about but that you knew was going to blow up crazy. My DC10 choice is from a few years later.

Bonus: Present day London

Terry: To bring the story full circle and up to date... One of my favourite parties in 2015 was at ACIDMAN, a mixed gay party at the Dalston Superstore. I opened up with what is my favourite record of last year and something I've yet to hear anyone else play. Soulful yet techy it's a great set opener and never fails. I really love house that crosses the genres, tracks that Robert Hood and Tedd Patterson could both play. Like this one.

Pete: Where to start? There's so much good music still coming out, but among current producers Maceo Plex is a fave. Especially this soulful number with a tech edge.

Heller and Farley's instalment in Defected's House Masters series is out soon