Acid House Street

Why the connection with acid house ? Been a part of that scene helped me in 1988 at the age of
16. It helped me understand my environment to make believable all the inequality and see a positive in the everyday and the way people be, this is what inspired me, and it stays with me today.

It shows a set of images from my last 20 years in and out of doing street photography, from the early nineties doing black and white on medium format to 35mm cameras to the present day and using digital compact cameras. Croydon to Morden to Peckham and Brixton to the west end and Camden via Notting Hill and Deptford.

The reason why I stopped raving, as I walked one morning from a rave in Tottenham, I realised I had to stop, all that nervousness and goose bumps to the point of convulsion every time I heard the house beat kick in, the never ending rave had become just that, I knew I had to hear and experience other types of music. At that point aged 17 in 1989 a year after I started living for the rave, I didn’t believe life could be that good or high anymore, it scared me to see friends transformed to shells of their former selves losing so much weight through continual partying they looked like the beginning of the end … not the future. The belief in our eyes was religious, how could anything that made you feel that good be bad. Acid house wasn’t sexy, it was mental! – seeing kids on new drugs and hearing the new beats was such a strong sensation. To understand the feeling of the time, you had to look at what happened in the 1980s. Everything was being sold or destabilised to the benefit of the government and shareholders, life was about the haves and have nots, money ruled and people were more than happy to show off their status symbols, it was also a violent time where most friday nights ended up in fighting. Turning up to a acid house rave with 3,000 other kids from all over the place, all races, and classes, everyone enjoying the moment till the morning. Non violent, clothes were simple tracksuits and cheap tops, an inclusive environment which helped a generation integrate with one another racially and non violently that society and education could only dream about. This lasted a couple of summers 1988 – 89 till the commercialisation of the music killed the vibe and criminal elements had taken over the running of the nights, that and the media labelling everyone a drug addict who attended, and the government much the same with the criminal justice act.

It was also about meeting groups of people to get to the party, someone had to get a car and then meet and start out on the hunt for the party, phoning numbers and asking other ravers, no–one ever complained how long it took, or where it was, that excitement and inspiration of driving the streets of London and its suburbs all the way out to the M25, seeing all the different peoples in different parts of town, that feeling stays with me.

A love of music and a moment can maintain an energy for years, my love of street photography started in the early nineties, it gave me the same feeling of community and understanding that I learnt on a dance floor in a warehouse.

Ben Graville


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One Response to Acid House Street

  1. Alex says:

    just like guessing how many hours of sunlight it takes to grow a tree, the lifetimes you’ve captured feels like playing
    in a giant pile of leaves in Autumn !

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