This is where “Balearic Beat” started for me. With this slightly sceptical piece on Shoom by John Godfrey. Published in I-D in the Spring of 1988.
I was in my second year at Leeds University. Sharing a house with five friends. Fielding phone-calls from my divorcing parents, along the lines of
“You know I love you more than she does.”
“You know I love you more than he does.”
Mum had got caught out, and moved out. My sister, Lizzie, was stuck at home with Dad. Who struggled to contain his rage at the best of times. This was not the best of times. I felt guilty for not being there, but Mum and Dad`s constant arguing was one of the reasons I was at Uni. Why I`d had to get away.
In London, my best mate was Dave. A night out for us had usually been a gig. The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Jesus & Mary Chain, Soup Dragons, Primal Scream, Felt, James. There was always something on. But then Dave had got a new girlfriend. Fiona was well posh. She lived out past South Croydon. In a house with a huge garden. Must have been a mile long. And landscaped. Her school friends included members of the Grange Hill cast, and her old man was military. Ex-SAS. I used to shit myself going round there. But Dave would tuck into the guy`s stock of black, treacle-like Navy rum as if it were his own. Fiona would make us go dancing. To Ziggy`s in Streatham. Ben & Andy`s Boilerhouse parties at Cinderella Rockafella`s. Rare Groove-tastic. Dave hated it. I`d already been a “Soul Boy”. Before even meeting Dave. From the Dun Cow on Old Kent Road to Flicks in Dartford. Like the football, I`d packed it in when the fighting got too much, and I got stabbed in some crappy suburban venue. Public Enemy`s Yo! Bum Rush The Show had come out. It`s JB steals, booming 808, and call for revolution had blown my head. When I lent the record to Dave he taped the same side twice without noticing. He hated it.
My girlfriend, Lou, was into fashion big time. Committed and close to obsessed, she`d clash with determinedly unhip Dave. To him it was bullshit. She thought he was a div. Lou ended up studying Art History in Manchester. A tad pretentious perhaps for Thornton Heath. Became a stylist I think. Lou started taking us to The Mudd Club. She`d drive. Me and Dave would drink. I once spent the whole evening face down in a car park. The three of them left me there. Just picked me up and put me back in the car before heading home. Dave did love the dressing-up, though. 1950`s suits, flat caps, braces and work boots. Waistcoats, cravats, two ties – undone. Draped across your lapels. I`d seen it in I-D. God, we`d even go shopping together. The indoor markets on Kensington High Street and the one in Croydon. By the time I left for Leeds it had all gone a bit Pump Up The Volume. Girls in puff-ball skirts doing this routine that looked like a combination of Salt N Pepa pushing it, and skipping.
During my first year away, I attempted to stay faithful and traveled back to London at weekends. As often as I could afford. Me and Lou would hit Raw. We were both poseurs. Sipping long cool cans of Sapporo. In the Summer holidays I had a temp job in the Habitat on Purley Way. Pulling orders from the warehouse. The shop itself staffed by lovely, more presentable, female students. One of them was a friend of Lizzie`s, who I had a crush on. Anna, and you know that. On coffee breaks, and at the bus stop, she`d tell me about the lock-ins at Ziggy`s. About taking Ecstasy and standing on the dance floor pretending to be a tree. A “creative”. She was majoring in TV & Film.
In my absence, Lizzie had gone to God`s Disco, on Greek Street. Hosted by the dancer Michael Clark, and comedian / actor / cad, Keith Allen. Taken her first E. Curious I`d asked a Leeds dealer who used to sell us speed, hash, and acid, if he could sort me out. He said, “Yeah, no problem.” And twenty quid lighter I took a pill on a standard Saturday night in the student union. Me and Simmo on half each. Everyone else watching the two of us. Waiting for us to start acting weird. More weird. I didn’t drink. Lizzie had told me not to. It didn`t seem to work. Most likely a worming tablet for the dealer`s Afghan Ridgeback. I`d call Lizzie, to see how she was getting on with my Dad, and she`d ask me about Pop songs. Did I know this? Did I have that? The Waterboys, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Tears For Fears, The Woodentops. Could I record them for her? Which I thought was a bit odd since Liz had always been hardcore R&B. Into Whitney and Nena. “Wot`s he like?” Not Morrissey. Then Lizzie and Anna came to visit me in Leeds. Giggled a lot. Flirted tirelessly. Tried to pinch plants from our aluminium foil-lined, UV-lit, loft. They were dressed kinda funny. Bandanas, beat-up jeans, Converse and Chevignon.
Then I bought this copy of I-D and everything clicked.
I`ve stitched the “Happy Trax” listed in the article together. You can have a listen here:
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