The Acid House Movement and the Political Aspects that Influenced It

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Thatcherism

The term Thatcherism is used to explain the conservative ideology and teachings of Margaret Thatcher, the prime minster of the United Kingdom from 1979 until 1990. Thatcher’s view and vision was of competition and free market. Thatcher believed that individuals should have the freedom to determine their own lives, if this remained in the boundaries of the law of the land.

When Margaret Thatcher came into leadership, she was determined to take a presidential approach. She was determined to rid her cabinet of as she put it “wets” that did not believe in her radical monetarist economic policies. Margaret Thatcher used her dominance over her party to sack or demote the “wets” and replace them with her own supporters. This made her the entirely dominant figure of her government.

In her time as prime minister Margaret Thatcher introduced many radical policy proposals, backed up by parliamentary majorities. These are some of the high-profile policies that were introduced during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

In 1979 the base interest was raised to thirty percent in order to bring inflation down. In 1981 chancellor Geoffrey Howe raised taxes and cut public spending during the recession. This caused unemployment to drastically increase. However, the government viewed this as successful as it did bring down inflation which they viewed as more important

The housing act of 1980 allowed council tenants to buy their council homes at a drastically discounted price. This was a manifesto pledge in 1979 to establish the UK as a property-owning democracy. This policy had been opposed by the Labour party as they argued it was diminishing council housing stock. However, by 1987 more than one million council houses had been sold under the scheme, which was very popular with those who had taken the leap into buying their homes and stepping onto the property ladder. This caused a huge shift in voting from the British working class towards conservative

In 1984 the government privatised British telecom with over two million people buying shares in the company. This followed with the privatisation of British gas in 1986. Also, in 1986 the government introduced a massive deregulation of banks and financial services and the city of London. This deregulation proved successful in establishing London as the global centre for financial services.

The trade union legislation employment act of 1984 outlawed secondary strikes or sympathy strikes. This meant that one set of workers could not go out on strike in support of another. This law also greatly restricted the number of people who could legally be on a picket line. This law was broken during the miners strikes of 1984 and 85 and Wapping print workers strike in 1985 as a picket line of six people was ineffective. The 1982 employment act limited the power of trade unions, banning Political strikes and limiting the grounds on which workers could go on strike.

The government purchased new nuclear weapons in 1982 and the Trident nuclear submarine programme was launched. The labour party at the time took a very different view and was in favour of nuclear disarmament. In 1986, a major piece of legislation was introduced in the Education Reform act that introduced marketisation principles into state education. This included the introduction of SATs tests, league tables and national curriculum.

The government abolished the Greater London Council in 1986. The council had a left-wing administration, abolishing the council greatly reduced the influence of left-wing socialists on British public life.

In 1989 the “poll tax” was introduced in Scotland where it was tested before introducing to the rest of the country. Known as the community charge which replaced local rates and was later replaced by council tax. The idea was based on all individuals paying the same amount, rather than households paying based on the value of their property. Individuals living alone saw their local taxes reduce, but larger households saw very significant increases in their tax bill. Scotland was a “guinea pig” and the tax was so unpopular that support for the conservative party in Scotland greatly reduced and increased support for independence. The entertainments (increased penalties) Act was introduced in 1990, also referred to as the Acid House Bill, which heightened punishments for those organising parties without licences which played repetitive beats.

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Acid house movement

In the late 1980s acid house became the biggest youth revolution for decades, bringing together a generation and breaking social boundaries uniting people of different class, race, and sexual preference. Whilst shocking parents and the authorities alike.

The UKs youth generation immersed the acid house movement along with the new drug ecstasy. A new movement exploded around it that changed the social and cultural outlook of a generation. It was the biggest revolution since the 60s and as with the mod’s and rockers before them, fell victim to what sociologist Stanley Cohen called “moral panic” in his 1972 study, Folk Devils and Moral Panics.

In 1979 in a Chicago nightclub the Warehouse, DJ Frankie Knuckles helped to create the music we know as House music. Frankie Knuckles like most DJs in the late 70s early 80s was a Disco DJ playing the classic sound of Philadelphia International and Salsoul. However, he started experimenting with the raw material of sound itself by re-editing records on reel-to-reel tape, he was extending parts and slicing others rearranging the flow to give the dancefloor extra boost. Soon Frankie Knuckles had a huge reputation as one of the best DJs in Chicago and flocks of people came to his shows.

House music although started in the U.S never really took off as it did when it came to London. When it reached London, it changed and evolved into something completely new it became Acid House. The acid house movement combined the hippie spirit found in the island of Ibiza with the sensation of taking a trip be it ecstasy or acid.

Acid house had laid its roots in the early 80s, but when it really exploded was in late 1987. The 80s were a time of great depression in Britain, unemployment was at an all-time high. Margaret Thatcher was encouraging free enterprise; her vision of a capitalist society was meant so the individual could thrive.

The whole purpose of Thatcherism and the political and economic culture was to encourage the individual to do it their self, make some money and get rich quick. It was this political ideology that made the younger generation want to escape the system but also encouraged young entrepreneurs to want to get rich quick, however they could and by any means be it organising raves, making records or selling drugs. So, a crucial aspect of acid house is that it was not just a youth culture reacting against a social and political background it was also a product of it.

For a large majority of 1980s British youth times were hard they were a source fear for respectable society and a law and order problem for the police. But whilst previous youth culture movements in the past wanted to break or fight the establishment, the acid house movement created an alternative means of dealing with an oppressive society, the option of temporary escapism. Acid house pleasures came not from resistance but from surrender. In this case a surrender to a complete of meaning rather than a form of resistance. A good way to describe the escape from the harsh realities of everyday life into environments of pleasure, dance and drugs is “hedonism in hard times”. The space in which club culture occupied and transformed through ecstasy and disappearance represent a fantasy of liberation, an escape of identity. A place where nobody is but everybody belongs. Acid house music was perfect to enable this escapism as it had no ideals of political opposition.

Acid house was Britain’s biggest youth revolution since the 60s and its legacy has changed the country’s cultural landscape forever. Over a quarter of a century on, its impact can be felt in everything from fashion to film and interior design. It redefined the notion of a night out. It even changed the law of the land. Many people talk about how revolution acid house was when it first erupted in Britain, but so many also talk about how fast something that felt so ground-breaking became so commercialised.

The roots of the revolution had been laid from the early 80s, but when acid house really began to take hold was in late 1987 with the introduction of a new drug ecstasy, and a group of four friends, DJs Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway, Johnny Walker and Paul Oakenfold, took a trip to the island of Ibiza to visit the acclaimed club Amnesia. They heard the resident DJ Alfredo mixing and blending records in the Balearic style, which fused together funk, soul, dance, and Chicago house tracks.

Upon his return to the UK Danny Rampling organized his own event to bring the spirt of Ibiza to the UK. “Shoom” was held on December 5th, 1987 in a fitness centre on Southwark street south east London. It lasted all night, acid house pumped from the sound-system provided by Carl Cox and the crowd raved on the new drug ecstasy.

The third Shoom flyer featured the smiley face that became the defining logo of acid house. This period became known as the second summer of love.

For the raver’s going to a rave was not just about the music it was about the fashion. A mixture of neon colours, tye-dye bum bags and of course the smiley face logo was the raver’s trademark. It seemed to be a statement of standing out within the confines of the club and to emulate the neon or strobe lighting of the club scene.

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