Party people who know their way around northern England will remember the legendary raves that Headcharge used to throw at the Arches in Sheffield before the venue sadly closed down a few years ago.
Now Jamie HeadchargeÃ‚Â is working flat out with former Spannered organiser James P to put the final touches on a new project, Rave Against Racism, which has its launch party on 24 May at The Corporation in Sheffield with headliners including The Orb and Mixmaster Morris. There is also a London Rave Against Racism event being launched on 22 May at the Electrowerkz – a venue that is well familiar to Ravetalk readers as the monthly venue for Bang Face.
Ravetalk caught up with Jamie to ask him a few quick questions about the Sheffield event.
Ravetalk: Why “Rave against Racism” when raves have no particular history of racism? Rock Against Racism was started when Eric Clapton spoke out in support of the NF and Bowie gave Nazi salutes on his return from Berlin. Aren’t ravers naturally against racism in the first place?
Jamie: That is the most important point and one that we have had the most questions about.
I’m 39, I’ve been going to raves since the year dot and only ever remember one racist incident in that time which was a rather distasteful joke about Stephen Lawrence just after he was murdered which got stamped on rather quickly.
Racism is something that just goes against the ethos of what raves are about. In fact if you look into the history of the word rave its been used as a term for people having a party since the Jazz days of the 1930s and co-opted by many different styles of music since. It’s got to be said that in this country it was white kids dancing to black music or music that was influenced by black artists from , Rock n Roll, Blues, Soul and all that Jazz that made people get together and dance. Music has the power to break down boundaries between people and cultures and is something I will explore a bit further on.
What Clapton said was a disgrace and it’s even more of a disgrace that he has still not apologised for it all these years later.
Some people are under the impression that we are campaigning against racism at raves which would be pointless because there isn’t any. What we are trying to do is get the people who go to raves more involved in anti-racist groups in their community.
R: What do you plan to do next after the launch raves?
J: The money we raise at our gig is going to a local community radio station called Sheffield Live. Like most community groups they are having funding problems and, with the London Olympics making it increasingly difficult to get lottery funding, they are not able to cover all the areas they would like to. Any money we raise will be ring-fenced and only used with youth groups and schools to give kids the chance to make radio shows that will be broadcast whether, its drama, music etc.
We want to focus on Anti-Bullying and Anti-Racism and if possible for the work to be done in the areas where the BNP have been trying to gain a stronghold in Sheffield. I’ve always believed that if you get kids at a young age doing something positive and constructive with arts or music it can start to mend some of the racist poison that comes down from family and friends at that age. Certainly worked for me, and we are looking at doing a 14-17 Rave Against Racism along the same lines.
R: Any political plans at all?
J: We are trying our hardest to be non-political as much as possible and look at this as a social endeavour. It is difficult at times because we are obviously swimming in political waters. We would much rather be a conduit for getting information out about what is happening and building links between people who may have no interest in politics but are decidedly anti-racist and we want people to get involved in their local communities where ever they are and get involved in the local groups like Hope Not Hate, Love Music – Hate Racism or the equivalent wherever they are in the world
It would be very easy to go down the political path if we wanted to and I have various long standing links to several anti far right groups, websites and organisations who would no doubt support us but as it is we are totally independent and prefer it that way.
There are European elections taking place in a few weeks and in this country the BNP only need to take between 8.5%-12% of the vote in various places to gain several Euro MPs. This will give them a massive boost in funding, access to many more resources to spread their lies and an air of legitimacy to the poison they spout. This can only be stopped by people voting and the more people who vote for whichever party they support, the less chance the BNP have of reaching the percentage of the vote they need.