For one night only, legendary nightclub fabric will be transformed into an exclusive exhibition detailing the rise of Club Cultures across Europe over the last 50 years. 150 rare photographs will be curated and displayed for a fleeting four hours. What makes this event so unique is the union of club cultures across numerous countries in one singular space. You will find souvenirs from the underground club scenes of Spain, Berlin, London and Paris immaculately displayed within the confines of Britain’s club capital. Launching as the first time these movements will be studied and celebrated as ‘one whole inter-connected history’, it’s set to celebrate the unusual nature of fringe cultures cross-pollinating across borders. No matter what politics or language dominates your country, you can be sure that repression and depression will breed factions of disillusioned youth, hopeful of a better future.

All youth subcultures burn fires that are fuelled by inequality and frustration with the way things are. They find solace amongst likeminded peers, alienated by parents and parliament. Many counter-cultures actively seek change and repeal through protest, subversive dress, art, and sometimes-physical violence. Club subcultures are no exception, but rather than actively opposing, they sought refuge, escape and ecstasy. Their rebellion came in the form of disco, dance, and drugs. Their contribution to overall society, arts and youth cultures are just as impactful as the somewhat overly advocated Punk scene. Though club culture can be determined as a mainstream and commercialized sector to some, its roots are very much embedded in a DIY, defiant beginning of marginalized peoples: people coming together for the greater love of music. It can be dissected into as many numbers of factions and variations as the genre of electronic dance music itself can be. You can build a timeline and a map across Europe, to trace the burgeoning beat from the earliest dance clubs, to its sweaty peak in the early 1990’s. As a brilliant article on the BBC put’s it, it’s near impossible to explain and demonstrate the history of a culture so complicated in just a few words. But here we try to look at the ‘maturing’ of clubbing, from “dance halls, jazz joints, discotheques, fields and, of course, The Haçienda.” All of which will be covered vastly in the Club Culture exhibition, so if you’re keen to know more, make sure to check it out.

Northern Soul Club

Before the 1960’s, teenagers didn’t exist. You were either a child or an adult. Young replicas of your parents. You go would go to dancehalls- not clubs- like them, you would dress like them, and you would act like them. But that all changed, when the arrival of The Twist, Garage Rock, Reggae, Ye Ye and Jazz music hit the scene. Mini skirts, beehives and Go-Go boots: aka the Youthquake. Smoke-filled underground clubs began to open across prominent cities for bored teens to congregate. By the time the 1970’s were in full swing, youth groups had shattered into further niche groups- subculture was full throttle. Northern Soul spread in casinos and nightclubs in the UK; early DJing that lead to Hip Hop began to emerge in the states, and thanks to Saturday Night Live, a Disco craze took hold over the world. The use of electronic sounds progressed into Synth-pop in the UK and Krautrock in Germany.

Then in 1980, the music we most associate with ‘clubbing’ today began to develop in Chicago. House music started to crop up in gay, black clubs and managed to spread to the UK with Detroit Techno. This combined with electronically experimental bands like Throbbing Gristle built the foundations of the acid house scene. It grew predominately in Manchester- similar to the industrially-depressed Detroit- and found it’s home in the now-world-renowned Hacienda nightclub. Opened by the founders of The Factory, bands like the Happy Mondays helped defined the drug-fuelled, hedonistic practice of rave culture. Lesser-mentioned movements like the La Movida Madrileña in Spain surfaced after the death tyrant Francisco Franco’s in 1975 and took inspiration from New Wave and New Romantics. The quest for hedonism, innovation and artistic freedom took center stage.


By the 1990’s, technologies advanced further, and underground clubs established themselves as churches to electronic gospel across the western world. In Berlin, the wall came down and Tresor- a club rooted between two bank vaults, grew to worldwide acclaim as a dance mecca. It became one of many that defined the city itself as hub and heart of European clubbing. But over in the UK, Jungle music took inspiration from dub and drum and bass. Rave culture grew outside of the brick and mortar clubs, and soon found ground in nature. Illegal raves in the countryside and squats were organized on an enormous scale- that is until the police urged parliament to introduce the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, and clubbing was pushed back into the indoors. At the same time, the world felt the French Touch- a scene stemming from Paris. Big names included Daft Punk, Cassius, Justice, Modjo, Étienne de Crécy. Also known as French House or Filter House, the sound was heavily defined by having a mix of Deep House, Disco/Funk and heavily filtered samples. By the 2000’s, America embraced the sounds of EDM, New Rave appeared, Dubstep bloomed and Trap found its beginnings.

Today, Club culture continues to grow in the mainstream… and in the shadows. This short essay only portrays a minute fraction of the extensive list of genre’s and societies out there, partying to this day. The current pervasive threat to all sub-factions being the preservation of clubbing institutions and keeping them from closure. Yet, through united defiance, partygoers and club lovers are spreading the word to maintain club heritage.


Detroit Rave



The Hacienda