April 10th, 2012

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Finally ... Hawking, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Returns to the BBC

Photo credit: http://www.dangerousminds.net/tag/Thinkers

FINALLY! Just what I have been waiting for.

BBC4 is repeating Hawking, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. I have not seen this (yet!) but I have been reliably informed by Cumberbatchfans who have that it is amongst the best, if not THE best, of his work. So I will be glued to my TV in the early hours of next Tuesday morning. If you don't want to stay up late you can, of course, catch it on the iPlayer for a week at a time of your choosing.

Tuesday 17th April 2012, BBC4, Midnight

Cut and pasted from the BBC website:
Drama-documentary relating the remarkable story of Stephen Hawking's early years as a PHD student at Cambridge, following his search for the 'beginning of time' and his courageous struggle against life-threatening illness.

Follow the link for the full details:

Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_(TV_film)
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Proud to be an Acid House Veteran

Photo credit: http://www.3stylershop.it/jada/web/fe/3styler/Italiano/item/FU-ACI

This is a story I have been wanting to run for some time, but I was waiting until after Easter. It is the reason I have been trawling through my backcatalogue of CDs, and why I rediscovered 19 by Paul Hardcastle and One in Ten by UB40 whilst I was going through my past CDs.

I was at University between 1988 and 1992 and I wanted to talk about the Acid House rave phenomenon, which was at its peak at that time.

Cut and pasted from Wikipedia:

Acid house is a sub-genre of house music that emphasizes a repetitive, hypnotic and trance-like style, often with samples or spoken lines instead of lyrics. Acid house's core electronic squelch sounds were developed around the mid-1980s, particularly by DJs from Chicago who experimented with the Roland TB-303 electronic synthesizer-sequencer. Acid house spread to the United Kingdom and continental Europe, where it was played by DJs in the acid house and later rave scenes. By the late 1980s, copycat tracks and acid house remixes brought the style into the mainstream, where it had some influence on pop and dance styles. Nicknamed "the sound of acid", acid house's influence on dance music is tangible considering the sheer number of electronic music tracks referencing acid house through the use of its sounds.

The London house-music scene

London's club Shoom opened in November 1987 and was one of the first clubs to introduce acid house to the clubbing public of the UK. The club featured thick fog, a dreamy atmosphere and acid house. This period began what some call the Second Summer of Love, a movement credited with a reduction in football hooliganism: instead of fights, football fans were listening to music, taking ecstasy, and joining the other club attendees in a peaceful movement often paralleled to the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967.

Another club called Trip was opened in June 1988 at the Astoria in London's West End. Trip was geared directly towards the acid house music scene. It was known for its intensity and stayed open until 3 AM. The patrons would spill into the streets chanting and drew the police on regular occasions. The reputation that occurrences like this created along with the UK's strong anti-club laws started to make it increasingly difficult to offer events in the conventional club atmosphere. Considered illegal in London during the late 80s, after-hour clubbing was against the law. However, this did not stop the club-goers from continuing after-hours dancing. Police would raid the after-hour parties, so the groups began to assemble inside warehouses and other inconspicuous venues in secret, hence also marking the first developments of the rave.

Raves were well attended at this time and consisted of single events or moving series of parties thrown by production companies or unlicensed clubs. Two well-known groups at this point were Sunrise, who held particularly massive outdoor events, and Revolution in Progress (RIP), known for the dark atmosphere and hard music at events which were usually thrown in warehouses or at Clink Street, a South East London nightclub housed in a former jail.

The Sunrise group threw several large acid house raves in Britain which gathered serious press attention. Many articles were written sensationalizing these parties and the results of them, focusing especially on the drug use and out-of-control nature that the media perceived.

Media attention

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, news media and tabloids devoted an increasing amount of coverage to the hedonistic acid house/rave scene, focusing on its association with psychedelic drugs and club drugs. The sensationalist nature of the coverage may have contributed to the banning of acid house during its heyday from radio, television, and retail outlets in the United Kingdom. The moral panic of the press began in 1988, when the UK tabloid The Sun, which only weeks earlier had promoted Acid House as "cool and groovy" while running an offer on Acid Smiley Face T-Shirts, abruptly turned on the scene. On October 19, the tabloid ran with the headline "Evils of Ecstasy," linking the Acid House scene with the newly popular and relatively unknown drug. The resultant panic incited by the tabloids eventually led to a crackdown on clubs and venues that played Acid House and had a profound negative impact on the scene.

UK acid house and rave fans used the yellow smiley face symbol simply as an emblem of the music and scene. Within just a few years, acid house had gained a considerable fan base, and the influence of the music reached beyond the club and warehouse environment. It also influenced UK pop music during these formative years.

Etymology of the term

The reference to "acid" may be a celebratory reference to psychedelic drugs in general, such as LSD, as well as a popular mid-1980s club drug Ecstasy (MDMA). Once the term acid house became more widely used, participants at acid house-themed events in the UK and Ibiza made the psychedelic drug connotations a reality by using club drugs such as ecstasy and LSD. This coincided with an increasing level of scrutiny and sensationalism in the mainstream press, although conflicting accounts about the degree of connection between acid house music and drugs continued to surface.

Photo credit: http://www.latostadora.com/web/acid_house/121373

Raks's Reaction

First up, I wanted to make something very clear. Despite loving acid house, I NEVER took any drugs; be that Ecstasy, LSD, or cannabis. I grew up with Grange Hill and Zammo and I bought their very strong "Just Say No" to drugs message, as drugs had the potential to wreck your life. Many of my friends at University were indulging in "soft" drugs like cannabis and ecstasy, some even "harder" drugs, as soon as the drugs came out I left the room, end of. So moving back onto the music ...

I may be looking back on the whole period and the movement with rose-tinted spectacles, but for me what was so appealing about Acid House was that it was all about the music, the dancing, letting go and the freedom of expression and movement. It was not about what you were wearing, or what material possessions you had (unlike nowadays).

I have no clue what the music sounds like on drugs as I never took drugs. For me, there was no need to. The music, the atmosphere, and the vibe, were enough to get you high at a rave. When the music came on, and the room was packed with people, all moving to the same beat, the effect was pretty mind-blowing. The best DJs used to play very extended versions of the tracks, starting with the baseline, thumping louder and faster as it went along, building to a crescendo, and then mixing in the next track seamlessly. There was nothing to rival it.

It was on the rave scene that I learnt how to "move my body", to move freely, to let go, to not be self-conscious, to leave my inhibitions behind, and to just go with the flow. All of these things I have carried with me from that day forward.

Acid House bands and tracks that I love to pieces:

A Guy Called Gerald "Voodoo Ray"
The KLF "What Time Is Love?"
The Shamen "Move Any Mountain" "Ebeneezer Goode"
S'Express "Theme from S'Express" "Hey Music Lover"
D Mob "We Call It Acieed" "It's Time to Get Funky" "C'mon and Get My Love" "Put Your Hands Together"
Maurice "This Is Acid"

My own favourite exponents of Acid House were Technotronic. They had a wide range of hits, all of which I think are excellent, including "Pump Up the Jam" (featuring Felly), "Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over)" (featuring Ya Kid K), "This Beat Is Technotronic" (featuring MC Eric), "Rockin' Over the Beat", and "Move This" (featuring Ya Kid K).

My guilty secret is that I LOVE Acid House, and always will, and I am proud to be an Acid House veteran.

"Jack Your Body"!
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Mayor of London: Calling all young musicians - enter Gigs today

Cut and pasted from the Mayor of London Gigs website:


Enter London's biggest ever street music competition and you could be playing to thousands at prestigious sites across the capital.

Who can enter?
We're looking for London's best young musicians to enter the city's favourite busking competition. If you're aged 11-25 and an amazing soloist, duo or group of up to 20 members, we'd love you to try and win your place in the Gigs line-up.

How it works
You need to send us your music performance, or apply for a live audition, and fill in the registration form to enter – then wait to see if you make the shortlist. The lucky acts will perform live throughout the Olympic summer, culminating in a live final in September.

What you can win
There are loads of cool music prizes up for grabs – apart from the high profile opportunities to perform in iconic London spaces, of course – including a London Underground busking licence, plus lots of music equipment, training and support.

Follow the link for the full details:
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Posh, Duke of York's

Photo credit: http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/posh-west-end

I did not see this the first time round and I was gutted. Huge mistake. Luckily for me, it is returning to the West End for a reasonable run. I have bought my ticket - I am not missing it again!

Posh, Duke of York's, Fri 11 May to Sat 4 Aug 2012
Written by Laura Wade
Directed by Lyndsey Turner

Cut and pasted from the Royal Court website:
In an oak-panelled room in Oxford, ten young bloods with cut-glass vowels and deep pockets are meeting, intent on restoring their right to rule. Members of an elite student dining society, the boys are bunkering down for a wild night of debauchery, decadence and bloody good wine. But this isn’t just a jolly: they’re planning a revolution. Welcome to the Riot Club.

Follow the link for all the details and to book tickets:

All images courtesy: http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/posh-west-end
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Post-Easter Audit: Most Popular Community Tags

Photo credit: http://deareje.tumblr.com/

Regular readers of The Umbrella Organisation will know that I do a regular audit of the most frequently used "tags" on the community.

I have just done an audit post-Easter 2012 and the results are in!

Top 3

1) benedict cumberbatch — 216 uses
2) national theatre — 204 uses
3) sherlock — 179 uses

This community continues to be founded and built on the very firm foundations of Benedict Cumberbatch, the National Theatre, and Sherlock.

These have been the most popular three tags for a long time on the community (in fact since the community began) but the big news is that Benedict Cumberbatch has overtaken the National Theatre to become THE most popular tag on the community. This is the first time that this has happened!

Benedict Cumberbatch, the Creature in Frankenstein, National Theatre, 2011
The Half Exhibition, Simon Annand
Photo credit: http://www.culturelabel.com/shop/idea-generation-gallery?limit=16&p=1

Numbers 4-10:

4) bbc — 177 uses
5) tv — 145 uses
6) theatre — 134 uses
7) film — 133 uses
8) politics — 116 uses
9) big society — 115 uses
10) mark gatiss — 101 uses

The next 7 most popular topics show that I am beginning to talk more about TV in general; in particular the BBC. And the community now features a range of theatre and film topics. The community is also beginning to look at politics and big society issues much more regularly.

In case any of you were wondering, Andrew Scott just missed the cut with 99 uses!