CASUAL culture III


The relationship between football and drugs is only a reflection of a much wider set of issues and relationships concerned with youth culture and drugs. But British football grounds have provided a focus for all the most significant British youth cultures for almost 30 years. 

Northern Soul in the 1970s was borne out of mod culture in the 1960s. 'Wigan Casino 'and 'The Torch' in Stoke on Trent 'Kept the Faith'. The 'faith' was dancing all night on stimulant drugs to soul music. Only the drugs had changed slightly. Supplies of pills diverted from doctors and chemists could no longer satisfy the demand for amphetamines so the back street chemists got busy and started producing amphetamine sulphate powder by the ton. At the same time it was argued that the football violence buzz was fading. It wasn't as much fun. It got boring. It was also getting more and more dangerous. Strict policing meant that you had to do as much damage in as small a time as possible- hence the Stanley knife and CS gas - literally a quick in and out and off! 

And then along came that Smiley Matey Acid House and the boys found a new buzz. Acid House and then Rave came along at just the right time with a pocketful of herbs and chemicals. Before Rave there were only two kinds of clubs. Those where you dressed up in smart clothes, got incredibly drunk to shitty chart music then looked for a casual sexual encounter, a fight and a kebab (not in any particular order 1 might add). The other kinds of clubs were the really trendy ones and they 
wouldn't let you in anyway. 

When Rave began as Acid House there was good music, good drugs and no violence. It was almost welcome change. Ex-casuals started to get into the DJ game and/or organising the drugs and the security for early Acid House parties and Raves. An the Younger lads were sellin the pills on the dancefloors. The Do-it-Yourself attitude of Punk was resurrected. Records could be made in bedrooms. Musical pretence was rejected punk style. just as crusty old rockers complained about the lack of musical ability of the three-chord wonders of Punk, so they became apoplectic about dance music that was made on cheap computers by spotty kinds in anoraks living, not in Los Angeles, but in Stafford with not a guitar in sight. In many ways, Rave is/was much more egalitarian and revolutionary than Punk ever was. 

This was around the time of the final the Manchester guitar bands the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets an james had dominated the listening material of the football 'lads'. But Within weeks 
they' were listening to tapes of 'Italian house' and 'hard core Belgian techno'. Moreover, they were dancing to the same music at 'Rave' nights in local clubs while under the influence of methylenedioxymethamphetamine-MDMA,and 'Ecstacy '(orsimply'E'). By the time of the start of the 90s many of the 'lads' were confirmed 'Ravers'. Although the Happy Mondays et al. still had a place in their cd collection it was for easy listening at home, weekend nights out were reserved for Rave music dished up by a top Dj' in a sweaty club with the blood being chased at break neck speed round your body courtesy of MrT'and his side kick 'Billy Whizz' (amphetamine sulphate). 

There was almost a ceasefire in football violence, the transition of key individuals from hooligan to Raver jumps out at those who really know the football scene. The surrealism referred to earlier now knows no bounds. At Raves around the country' lads' from rival firms, 'found themselves raving underthe same roof on the same drug -'E'. People who six months earlier would have been tearing each other's throats out were now dancing together and pulling 'E' faces at each other. One of many similar stories was a Man United lad describing how he and his mates had gone to a Rave in Yorkshire and he had found himself surrounded on the dance floor by a group of young men dressed in the old style, famous white shirts of the 1960s Leeds United side: 'I was off my face on "E and didn't know or care where I was or who I was and then I noticed these shirts bouncing all around me. For a split second I thought - fuck me! We're in Yorkshire! These are Leeds! This is it! The party stops right here! It's going to go right off now! I looked at one of them and his eyes were in the back of his head he was well on one and out of it. I ended up dancing with them all night - fuckin' mad or what! – Brilliant!!

In summary, something happened, a change came. For a short period football violence uncool and drugs played a major role in bringing this culture shift about. However, if culture and fashion are anything they arefickle and subject to overnight.