Looking back at the golden era of classic tape packs with Jamie from Section 23 – this episode focuses on United Dance, an extremely popular event held at the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre.
Causing an Eclipse to outshine
The rave scene in Cambridge between 1992 and 1994 was incredible and dominated mainly by Stuart and Dave Banks who jointly ran an event called Eclipse.
During 1994, a promotions outfit under the name Unit 5 created an event called Temptation which ran from Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre, a huge hall located pretty much in the centre of Cambridge. In some respects Temptation was the next step in the area’s rave scene and their events in 1994 saw many of the most respected artists grace the turntables including Grooverider, Mickey Finn, DJ SY and Kenny Ken.
Arts & Leisure
In March 1994, two rave promoters under the names United Dance and Temptation graced the Stevenage rave scene with an event held at the Arts and Leisure Centre. Although the promoter of Temptation is unknown to me, the man behind United Dance was Chris Eruption who went on to produce a huge amount of Happy Hardcore anthems. The events that followed created probably one of the most influential nights in East Anglia at the time and paved the way for thousands of ravers to experience the ever changing styles of underground music.
It’s Hype 1-2 then 2-3 … it’s Dougal & Vibes
Probably quite absurd to the Drum & Bass raver of 2013 but way back in the 90’s many of the big promoters would opt to mix styles all night, whether that be Happy Hardcore and Drum & Bass in the main room or Techno alongside Gabba in room two. This sometimes led to very interesting MC combinations, especially if you had missed the event and were listening back to the tape pack.
My personal favourite from United Dance events at the time had to be Fearless and MC MC over Happy Hardcore, it was like a whole new take on the tracks and I am certain that this paved the way for more lyrical Hardcore MC’s such as Whizzkid and Storm. You would obviously get the old favourites such as Magika, Stixman and Sharkey but involving the Drum & Bass MC’s almost seemed to force the Hardcore MC’s to step up their game.
Jungle, Drum & Bass, Happy Hardcore and…. 4-Beat?
Something strange that come out of the United Dance era of Happy Hardcore was the genre coined ‘4-Beat’. My assumption was that Seduction and Eruption wanted to steer people away from the term Happy Hardcore, potentially because at the time, some may have been put off by the name. Let’s face it, saying to your friends that you were into Happy Hardcore probably wasn’t seen as the coolest thing to say in 1995.
Impact Records, owned by Seduction, held face with 4-Beat for a while and in an interview he made a stance by saying “”House led to Hardcore, which led to Drum & Bass and 4-Beat (I hate calling it Happy Hardcore)”. It was obviously quite a personal thing and not every producer shared the same enthusiasm which was quite apparent when, far later in the genres lifetime, it switched from Happy Hardcore to it’s current name – UK Hardcore.
Showers in a rave
One of the ‘attractions’ so to speak of the Arts and Leisure centre was the massive shower blocks in both the male and female toilets. It would be a common occurrence to see highly spirited ravers at 3 in the morning having a shower fully clothed. You would assume this then also lead to a very slippery dance floor but as the main arena was typically used as a sports centre, carpet was laid out way in advance of any bathroom activities.
“Ah yeah! Let the good times roll”
DJ Hype and MC MC were always a winning combination, perhaps this was down to their shared passion for the scene or the fact that they had worked together for a considerable amount of time. It was one of those combinations that would always stand out on a flyer or tape pack, similar to that of Andy C and GQ in today’s scene. MC MC rides the music, he didn’t batter a million lyrics over each track but effortlessly hosts the set with style and grace.
This live set is certainly one that has a distinct flow to it, it’s an amazing introduction to years gone by. If you have yet to pick up on some of the history of the scene or if you are a die hard fan of the early to mid 90’s it’s certainly worth checking for a trip down memory lane.
The obvious Jungle anthems of the time such as Splash’s ‘Babylon’, DJ Rap’s ‘Spiritual Aura’ and Q Project’s ‘Champion Sound’ all feature on the set alongside Hype’s well known scratch routines. Let the recording play for around half an hour and Hype digs deeper into the lesser known tunes from the era.
The end of the set also features MC Free & Easy, otherwise known as Terry Turbo.
“Let the music take you up”
Slipmatt, known for his huge involvement and contribution to the scene since it’s foundation, delivers a cross selection of Breakbeat Hardcore, Jungle and early Happy Hardcore in this set accompanied by MC Magika. It’s a fine example of where the scene in general was during 1994 and a perfect demonstration of how to deliver a high energy set.
The last hour at United Dance was always known as ‘Slipmatt’s Hour’, the way that he retained a full house at 5 or 6 in the morning was hard to beat and some even turned up at 3 or 4 in the morning just to catch the last few hours of the early morning vibe.
Opening with Aphrodite’s ‘Calling The People’ before switching from Jungle to Breakbeat Hardcore then double dropping into Firefox and 4-Tree’s ‘Warning’, this really is a set of surprises featuring all the big names and labels from the era such as RSR Recordings, United Dance Recordings and Slammin Vinyl.
I strongly discourage you from looking at the DJ name and making the assumption that this set is full of super fast chipmunk vocals and kick drums, it’s anything but.
Jungle/Drum&Bass Veteran. Section 23 since 1993, part of the editorial team for Drum & Bass Arena, writer for UK Bass Music, Everyday Junglist and Drumtrip