WHAT’S A LONDON THING? RACE, SPACE AND BASS IN THE CITY
This talk will take a historical look at the emergence of a variety of black music cultures in post-colonial London at the end of the 20th century. Based on my book It’s a London Thing: How rare groove, acid house and jungle remapped the city (Manchester
University Press, 2020), I will explore what is distinct about London as a musical terrain in terms of the entanglement of race and space. I will examine how race has been (re)produced spatially in the city – through forms of regulation (like the application of the sus laws) – and how music scenes drawing on and extending the tradition of Afro-diasporic music production-as-consumption created new spaces, from shubeens and sound systems, to Soho soul clubs, warehouse parties to raves and jungle clubs, for the articulation of black British identity and the constitution of multiculture. This research draws on original interviews conducted over 20 years and extensive club archive of photographer Dave Swindells.
Caspar Melville is lecturer in Global Creative & Cultural Industries at SOAS, University of London. He is author of It’s a London Thing: how rare groove, acid house and jungle remapped the city (Manchester University Press, 2020) and was a researcher on the AHRC-funded Bass Culture research project, 2016-9, led by Mykaell Riley at the University of Westminster.