Monday, July 15, 2013

why i loved club music but hated club culture (well, London club culture) until acieed / rave came along - the Wag Club

Robert Elms on The Wag: ‘It quickly became the centre of a very small world. It contrived to make you feel special for being in there... The Wag was an unofficial members’ club.”

Once did a interview about Energy Flash -- the first time it came out, 1998 - with Elms on his Radio London show. In between half-watching the cricket, Robert opined that in his opinion, "house and techno and rave, to me that was the death of the great British working class love affair with black music". I pointed out that house and techno were actually in fact black music forms, from Chicago and Detroit, and that rave was full of reggae and hip hop elements. But for Elms, the consummate Wag-ist, after jazz-dance and go go, it was all over, kaput, the mod-soulboy continuum.... 

Talking of mod, I did not know that  the Wag's location, 33 Wardour Street was in factthe same location for "smoking rhythm and blues cellar The Flamingo, famous in the ’60s for its weekend all-nighters, as the birthplace of mod" (and before that the location for "jazz club Whiskey A Go-Go"). (Funny how these spaces often endure through the phases of youth culture: 100 Club being a trad jazz haven, and then the spawning ground for UK punk, and later a Northern Soul club (second-phase Northern, the 80s version), and probably many other phases and stages.)

Melody Maker actually had one of its annual parties at the Wag, but the resident deejay insisted on / persisted with playing what was then hip in London clubland circa 1987  - rare groove - which is to say substandard funk from the early-to-mid Seventies -- rather than anything anyone from MM or our guests might have rather heard, which is to say, virtually anything else but rare groove.

Chris Sullivan, the Welshman behind this archetypal London-Eighties club, who has "no qualms about The Wag being elitist" and who is quoted in the piece thusly “the club was intended purely for our group and not for those who walked up off the street", has another claim to fame - as frontman of Blue Rondo A La Turk.

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