For my blog this time I will be taking a focus on factual content, and when i say factual I don’t mean the 10 o clock news I mean insightful, harrowing documentaries presenting a window into British culture.The two documentaries I will be looking at are the Vice presentation of the underground rave scene in ‘Locked off’ and the Noisey documentary on Blackpool grime media.Now sweaty raves and 12 year olds dropping bars may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Britain but to me they show the essence of what it is to be British, a community spirit that endures through the generations.
Being Lancashire born and bred myself I’m the first to say i saw it as a huge surprise to discover BGmedia (Blackpool grime media) and the brash but undoubtable enthusiasm of a youth revitalising a underground Grime culture up north.What was once the place you go in the summer for Pleasure beach and some famous Blackpool rock is now the home to one of the newest online phenomenons of displaced youth expressing their love for music in a hard struck neighbourhood.What was once a London centric scene producing the likes of Skepta and Wiley has now traversed to the seaside town. ‘These videos present a very pure and stripped back form of grime, devoid of most cultural references or cliches; videos by a group of people for whom grime has been shaped to their own personal reality’ (Noisey,2016).
Poet, a London based rapper and artist explores this further in the documentary as he takes a trip to Blackpool to find out what its all about.Before setting out for the production the research gone into preparing for this is undoubtably routed in simple online word of mouth, during the doc Poet while narrating starts out explaining the real online buzz the BGmedia youtube page has garnered. Some of the attention is of course negative with many you tubers seeing a good portion of their viewership from the reactionary and sometimes funny videos they produce on the group. A lot of the backlash that the group has had is simply down to how shocking the language is of what seems to be innocent kids that then come out with at times racist and violent language.Poet while meeting the predominant BGM members such as Little T (the star of the page) and Soph Aspin alongside the more experienced Afghan dan elaborates more on this,spekaing to the members on why they feel enriched by the music but at the same time criticising their at times use of brash language with the response of desire to change. The story unfolds by ultimately detailing the journey of these aspiring rappers from humble and sometimes troubled beginnings to then achieve a sense of local and online fame, even going as far as performing shows locally in the documentary. However the driving force of the documentary is the sense of community that unfolds as the story progresses. BGmedia has no shortages of somewhat petty beefs between members facing off at one another, poet however attempt to heal these bitter wounds by eventually bringing these members together in a tense meeting which eventually sees the members make amends to close out with a final unified voice of community brought together by music.
Although the British rave scene is still going strong via events such as warehouse project, it is undoubtable that the British nightlife has taken a hit. Over the course of the decade their has been a huge decline in the prominence of the UK nightlife scene, with clubs shutting across the nation with one of the most recent closure including Manchester based Sankeys personally coming as bad news to me. ‘The explosion of festivals drives up fees for DJs and attracts similar audiences. Technology means music can be discovered online while people don’t have to endure over-priced drinks and pounding beats’ (I News, 2016) What was once an enriched rave scene has now seen a sistamatic closure of many much loved venues. These closures have left a void in the community, a void that was filled with the emergence of a new subculture of ravers.Locked off taps into this current growing trend of underground raves that have swept across the country to reignite what has now been lost.
Locked off presents a very new emergence, a subculture of displaced people who have seen a culture under threat with the rampant closures and sterilisation of nightclubs.What was once a scene of raw emotion and passion has now traversed into a commercialised monopoly of fake grandeur. Pioneers of the scene alongside event organisers have retained a strong presence and place for rave culture that has in fact now reached new heights of notoriety and proclaim via the explosion of music festivals and chart success. However once a culture ascends to the mainstream a hand of control seems to sweep in and arguably take away that raw gritty sense of escapism and anti establishment that was once there before and has now diminished. A similar sentiment among the ravers and organisers is overtly clear in Locked off, ‘this is a 21st century version of rave, where young people break into disused spaces with the help of bolt-cutters and complicated loopholes in squatting laws’ (Vice, 2016). You can tell a lot of thought has gone into Locked off and how they position themselves to tell this story, details seep throughout of previous stories of rave shutdowns alongside the shocking number of club closures over the decade (over half in 10 years). These harrowing revelations all serve as building blocks and opening to the story itself. Throughout the documentary the presenter travels up and down the country to venture into these illegal raves that are orchestrated by mysterious masked individuals who explain the process of breaking into industrial complexes, to then set up shop and get the word out of the nightly rave that is about to ensue. As more and more people begin to arrive and start the party the presenter begins to witness the real spirt of the rave culture that seemed lacking now in full force amidst the clusters of dancing ravers moving to the beats and bass.
As the documentary continues the events seem to get more elaborate with forest raves being put together as well as public protests raves in the city streets.What comes across while watching most notably in similarity to the BGmedia doc is the real sense of community that the people have.Regardless of background or significance people ultimately come together in both of these documentaries. Whether it is a youth group trying to find their place in the world or a band of displaced ravers coming together to dance both of these stories are intertwined by a community collective for their love of music and culture.