After spending much of our youth donning coloured rubber wristbands to honour natural disasters, sitting in brightly lit homes in our millions to watch a televised carbon-neutral concert, or working in hospitality at black-tie three-course "charity" dinners, it's little wonder we've become jaded and confused with what it means to be politically active. The inverted commas which surround "raising awareness" have swollen larger than Aphex Twin promotional airships, giving the overused phrase an equally risky tendency to spontaneous, saggy, and utterly meaningless deflation.
At Thump we're keen on discussing the limits and horizons of the political dancefloor, and how the clubs can give authentic political agency to party-goers. It is a space where the inherently political solidarity of the dancefloor battles with the forces of the market, class, privilege and capital.
It's little wonder that once again, we can count of the superb Leeds' hive-mind to be leading the radical club conga line, with three free voter-registration parties spread resplendently over this bank holiday weekend, and a special election-eve party on 7th June.
Billed as a way to increase voter registration for young people before the June 8th General Election, the parties hope to not only celebrate political agency and civic pride, but actually provide registration services, help people to register online, and give advice on tactical voting.
At the last general election, the 18-24 age group showed the lowest voter turnout of any age demographic. Yet as the choice lay between Labour's lovable but sadly unconvincing Woody action-figure Ed Milliband, a candidate so irrelevant I'm going to refuse to name him, a racist reincarnation of the Crazy Frog turned purple with real-ale alcoholism, and Emperor Blair's cyborg Sith apprentice David Cameron, could you really fucking blame us?
This time, the possibility of young voters swinging the direction of the election seems very real. Lydia Lloyd-Henry, co-founder of up and coming Leeds club night Puddles, puts it plainly: "Regardless of who people vote for, we just want everyone to vote." The next Puddles on Friday 19th May is a free party at Hyde Park Book Club, and as is often the case in Leeds, everyone is welcome. Manchester producer Milo will be providing the solid four to the floor house kickdrum, which should perfectly compliment the monochrome simplicity of the gov.uk website, available at hand for potential voters.
If like me you really enjoy the feeling of your teeth chattering, eyes wobbling, and the concept of a laptop, of music itself, and life as you know it dissolving into a beautiful fractal pattern, Michael Upson's already legendary Love Muscle party will be providing a voter registration service until 1am (!) by which point you should be well on the way to a divine state of political enlightenment and Donna Summer disco bliss.
"As with most minority groups, members of the LGB and particularly Trans community are adversely affected by changes to policy in health & welfare because they tend to rely on those services more than their straight & cis counterparts. That's why it's more important than ever, especially in the current political climate, for the LGBT+ community to have an active voice in this general election."
Upson's Love Muscle takes place on Saturday 20th May at Wharf Chambers in Leeds, and if you aren't already shivering in anticipation, make sure you make it down on Saturday night and feel it for yourself. If that isn't enough for you, Get Out to Vote back at the Hyde Park Book Club on Monday 22nd is another free chorale from the Leeds' arts and food scene, with voting advice and registration offered to anyone who wants it.
"A decent society is predicated upon organised, formal politics. These institutions are not naturally self preserving—they require day in day out efforts to maintain them," begins Book Club owner Jack Simpson. "Representation is fundamental to a decent society; if people don't vote they won't be represented."
And lo and behold, on the eve of the General Election, a colossal super-assemblage of Brotherhood Sound, Cosmic Slop and Thump favourites Brudenell Groove, On Rotation, Glug Glug, and Emporium, are set to shake the foundations of the Wire basement with Vote 2 Party. This six-faction coalition government will be in session in Wire's dank dance chamber all night long, and Mr Speaker Andrew Kemp, co-founder and resident of Brudenell Groove, will be filibustering moves and grooves with the best Leeds have to offer.
"We're beyond the point now where apathy or abstinence are acceptable; whilst turnout among young people is low, politicians will continue to ignore us, and the results of that have already proven devastating," Andrew continues. "Our generation has been ignored and hurt by successive governments, but we're also more and more lucid to the fact that we can make a difference. It's time for us to take action in every way we can, and using a party to promote voting is just one way of doing that."
The event is free to anyone who can send their voter registration confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org, a party-tactic reminiscent of London's grime4corbyn event taking place in the capital in the coming weeks.
I think the notion of "change at the ballot box" has been both birthed and blown apart by Blair, broadly speaking. But registering to vote and taking part in the next General Election is a great way to somewhat realise our political agency and transform our ideologies into actions.
As Brotherhood Sound brother, George Hartshorn, eloquently puts it, "I don't think I'm just speaking for myself when I say Brexit took me by complete surprise, and whilst I voted to remain I never actually opened a dialogue with a 'leave voter' or went out canvassing because I was so sure we wouldn't leave. I think the time of inaction from our generation needs to end, and getting young people to register to vote is just the first step."
Alongside the politics of registration; the chance meetings, the coming together in club queues, on the dancefloors, and huddled in groups dotting the smoking areas of Leeds and beyond, will mark a very special time in our lives and in the history of young people in the UK—a popular political engagement that has never been seen before.
For more information on the parties mentioned have a look below...
Puddles - Hyde Park Book Club – Friday 19th May
Love Muscle – Wharf Chambers – Saturday 20th May
Get Out The Vote – Hyde Park Book Club – Monday 22nd May
Vote 2 Party – Wire – Wednesday 7th June