Filling in the gaps – In the beginning

Yesterday I blogged about Amnesia House. What a fitting name, I can’t remember any of them.

It turns out that I’ve been getting my years mixed up in my mind. I’m up at silly o’clock so I thought I’d do a quick spot of research and ‘get it right’ for once and try to breakdown those definitive years, a quick house history of my own, so to speak.

Like most of my blogs, this is just to document for myself to look back on but some of this may resonate with you too. Feel free to add your own timeline.

I left school in 87. My social life back then and through most of my mid-teens was based around my school friends and my “street” friends. An even mixture of nights over at mates’ houses, parties in houses, school discos and so on. I just got lost trying to piece it all together. I led about 5 different lives, so it seems.

Without trying to get the timeline on this exact and for the ease of getting the main focus of this particular blog out, I won’t try to be too specific on this occasion, I’ll save that for the book (there has to be one at some point).

My mind throws these bullet points at me. Some are ‘guestimations’. Any of my Birmingham friends, please feel free to pick me up on any of this that’s wrong;

School discos: 82-85
Castle Vale discos/youth centres etc etc: 82-85
RollerSkating on a Sunday at the Top Rank: I don’t remember the year at all but I’d guess at around 82/83
Walking around like a good boy up town on a Saturday: 82-83
‘Loafing’ up the ramp/fountain like a street urchin: 83-86
Dossing around Aston: 83-86
Powerhouse all-dayers: 84-85 (I don’t remember who I used to go here with or how I started)
Skating at Silver Blades: 84/85
Dossing up Sutton: 84-87
Started going bars in Sutton: 85/86 (age 15/16)

Ok, that’s the foundations, very quickly (even though it took me about an hour to get that sorted in my head).

In 86 my family moved from Castle Vale to Stockland Green.

I got talking to a lad on the bus after seeing him most mornings. Gary Davies. He was to become my close friend for years, alongside my already close friends I grew up with from Castle Vale, my school mates, lads I got to meet from hanging at the shops in Sutton (who were to also become my closest friends) and my naughty friends from Aston. I had a lot of “crews”.
Apart from my dad and my uncle, Gary was one of the earliest influences in my music taste as he used to do me tapes of all the cool music he bought and copy me tapes he’d get from his mates. Another friend Brad was the ‘unofficial’ leader of the Sutton crew (in my head anyway) and was to be a major influence too with the tapes he would do for me, which started off as hip hop then everything onwards up to rave.

Thinking back to my early drinking days when I was 15/16 we mainly went to parties in people’s houses (house parties). Around this time was also Clifton Disco and the YMCA in Sutton although I don’t remember drinking there, so maybe that’s 84/85 ? I was known as Freckles by most of the Sutton Crew, although I insisted on being called “Tetley”, you know, as in the Tea Bag, ’cause that’s what my face looked like !? It made sense at the time. What a shit name.

One night, for some bizarre reason, I decided to rob a peanut machine from the YMCA to smash it open and steal the money. I didn’t need the money. I got caught by the police in the cemetery at the top of the Parade with one of my naughty friends from Aston and was barred from the YMCA for some time as well as getting fined for theft. I became known as “Freckles, the peanut machine thief”. What a shit name.

That wasn’t the first or last time I got into trouble with “the law”. A few years before, I’d also had my collar felt up town with other naughty friends from Aston. I was barred from seeing them for a while. Hysterical stories I need to share one day.

Back on track… drinking…

Rugby club parties, Sutton bars, Boogies, Edwards, Aston pubs with my dad (little chuckle for #bigden). I went on holiday for a few years with one of my best friends called Liz and her family and it was around this time I passed my driving test. (I now live on the same estate that Liz’s cousin has a holiday home. You couldn’t make it up !).

I remember the night I passed my test. 1987. I went the Powerhouse with Gary, Lee and Richard. I thought it was the Ritzy by then but just googled and found out the Ritzy opened in 1990 !? Wow, this is proving longer than I thought. I’ve been trying to write this for 90 minutes.

Back to 87. Driving. Got a 2nd job of an evening, cold-calling for a double glazing firm. Met another friend that added another arm to my social calendar. Chucking 7s in Burntwood into the mix now. Next up, The Dome ! Girls ! My first serious relationship with a nutter of a girl from Kidderminster, a Vicar’s daughter, would you believe ! We’re into 88 now. I’ve just realised this has gone way off track to why I started writing it. Let’s pull it back.

Ok, so the guy I met on the bus, Gary, he was bang into his music, as were all my mates. My musical timeline up to this point was amazing music at home that my dad loved, shit music down the resident’s on the Vale, mixed with great 80’s music. Good, quality soul was always in the background, as was a little reggae. Then into hip hop. It was all about hip hop for such a long time and all that came with it. It was through hip hop & graffiti I met my Sutton ‘crew’ who I ended up spending all my early teens and then my rave days with.

Another little pause as my mind drifted off. This is a ridiculous task to try to achieve in one blog post. I really think I need to start writing chapters. I’ve lost the whole direction again, sorry, lol. Writing ‘lol’ is pretty shit isn’t it ! It’s appropriate though. Lol.

I’m going back to bullet points, it’s the only way. You can’t sum up the best years of your life in a few thousand words. Not when you’ve done all the things we’ve done, right ?

I got to 87.

Finding out Ritzy opened in 1990 makes a lot more sense now.

Drinking every weekend up town & Sutton: 87/89. Too many venues to think of, Snobs, Edgbaston Reservoir, Faces etc etc.
Coach trips to all dayers like Rock City, Jive Turkey etc. I thought this was earlier but as I was going with Gary etc it must have been 86/87.
87 – left school one year into my A Levels. Sixth Form did my head in.
87 – got a job at a factory right outside where I used to get off the bus to school.
88/89 – Left my first job and moved to a new company, CCS. Got talking to a girl called Michelle there, turns out we like the same music. Gave her a mix tape to listen to. Became good friends with her and her boyfriend.
Prestatyn Soul Weekenders: 88/89. My first ‘indulgence’ in ’88 I think, after attending the weekender once before ‘on’ nothing.
Hummingbird: 89/90. Met a girl, Sam. fell in love.
Summer of 1990. I’d already decided to live & work in Majorca for the summer with a mate from CCS who was into Rock Music but loved ‘a trip’. Lasted 2 weeks because I was in love. Came home and rented a house with Sam, June 1990.

This is where I realise I’d gotten a couple of years wrong in the past, in my head. Piecing this together I now know and recall that it was whilst in this house we really got into ‘raving’. We were well into house music at this point, obviously, but 1990 was the ‘next chapter’.

I was one of a few of us that had their own place, so this became the centre of many of our Saturday nights in. ‘Smoking’ and all that kind of thing, you know. Window pains, micro dots and so on. Aston Villa Sports Centre was a big NYE rave that I was sure was 89/90. It was my mate, Brad, that told me my dates were wrong and what prompted me to start this. I just googled and found that the NYE rave I thought was 89/90 was in fact 90/91 which makes total sense as my house was just around the corner and we all piled back there afterwards.

By this stage Michelle and I became best mates and together with our partners used to go raves. This is what confuses me. I am sure I’d been raving for a good while at this point as I remember driving down to Plymouth with them, but I couldn’t have been raving that long as I was still with Sam !? Obviously, I went from wet-behind-the-ears to veteran raver quicker than I thought. After chatting with Michelle about this I realise we’d been going to Acid House parties for some time but the big raves started with Amnesia, 1990.

June 1991 is a date I remember well, as it was my 21st Birthday. Our first year rental contract was up on the house and I’d had enough of Sam. Wow, I thought we were together longer… couldn’t have been more than 18 months. Before the time to move came I’d already found myself a flat on the Bromford and looked forward to being single again.

Hold on, I thought I was doing bullet points !?!

Ok, MAAASIVE long-story short, I move into the flat and the next thing you know, Michelle and I are an item.

So this is June/July 1991 now. I really don’t remember any ‘sessions’ in that flat with the lads in this rave era.

Living in the next block of flats was a guy named Derek I knew vaguely from the scene. He had some decks. I had a go. I loved it. We became best mates and went everywhere together. Apart from the toilet. Actually, I’m sure we did go the toilet together many times.

We continued going to almost all the massive raves in the area and beyond for the next 18 months or so. Myself, Michelle, her mates, Derek (DJ Dexter) and his mates, My Aston mates, my Sutton mates, My Vale mates… if you were out in this era you just knew everyone.

Eventually I bought some decks and started playing out a few times as well as on Pirate Radio. Then the music started changing, I went from “Hardcore” to “Mellow”. Sasha was my new hero. I realise that I’ve missed Shelley’s out of the equation. That would have been ’89.

Back to 1991.

We moved from the fields to the clubs. Mid-week sessions at Bonkers spring to mind, as well as House nights at The Dome. I’ve mentioned this before but it seems like one week at the Dome we were dancing to Taylor Dane , the next we were tripping off the lasers to house music ? Did you know Taylor Dane is Scott Wozniak’s sister !? (*edit – in hindsight I now realise this was around ’89)

91-93:

I struggle to piece this into the jigsaw but I know we went to Venus quite a few times around this time and after that the big hitters surface like Cake parties, A Better Way, Chuff Chuff boat parties and then of course Steering Wheel and Moneypennies. 1993 I started my residency at Marco’s on the Sunday mornings. We’d been going there for a few years already but that was on the rave tip, now Marco’s was HOUSE.

You know what, I failed miserably to achieve what I set out to do with this blog and got sidetracked when everyone awoke and I had to do the school run. I have had fun for the last 3 hours writing this down.

I’ve just read it back and it feels like a really great film that ran out of money at the end.

Sorry.

I really do need to write a book, even if no one else reads it !

Enjoy that ?

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