Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Save Plastic People

And on to today's most important news item; due to the Met forcing a review of their license, Plastic People is at risk of closure. Quite aside from my personal feelings, there are a whole host of reasons why this shouldn't be allowed to happen.

Firstly, it offers a club space like no other, either in London or the rest of the UK, in that it takes the emphasis entirely off the dancers and places it firmly on the music being played. Plastic People's darkened room and iconic single light fixture creates a wholly immersive environment within which ravers toy with sensory deprivation, sharply attuning the hearing as sight becomes attenuated. It becomes a vast, living and breathing tank, heightening the physical and emotional properties of sound through the system's purpose built design.

Secondly, its heritage. In creating an environment in which its focus on introspection, musicality and individualism could thrive, in many ways dubstep would not be the creature it is now were it not for PP. The same goes for any number of London-nurtured bass musics, each of which found new ways to express itself and a close-knit community vibe within its walls. Yet it's hardly trading off past glories -- the same feeling remains intact every time I find myself in there, and it continues to nurture FWD>> (at least for the next few weeks). In fact, the very first post on CB/OB was a chat about Untold's set at FWD last summer:

There’s something to be said for the continued existence and success of a space like FWD>> for the nurturing and airing of new and innovative sounds; detachment from the crowd-pleasing pressures of performing at a Friday or Saturday night rave encourages sets that do not merely skirt round the edges of subtlety and musicality but fully embrace the possibilities that come with a devoted and attentive audience. It’s often said that dulling one sensory input heightens that of all the others, yet I’ve always found the environment inside Plastic People unusual in that its pitch darkness seems not only to attenuate vision but also touch, taste, smell; yet the alienation engendered by almost total sensory deprivation is redeemed by the total immersion in sound such an environment offers. Away from these anchors to reality the experience is pleasurably dissociative, the constant motion of bodies in monochrome only occasionally disturbed by the sudden spark of a lighter held to the ceiling in triumph, everything suddenly lit for a fraction of a second in glorious technicolour before plunging back into darkness."

Purely on a personal level, FWD>> served as the point at which a piqued interest in dubstep via Burial and Kode9's first Hyperdub CDs, and later Pinch's Underwater Dancehall, blossomed into full on obsession. The first track I heard on that system was Pinch's 'Qawwali', instantly transforming the softly meditative track I was used to on headphones into a full body, intensely physical experience. It will be a great shame for London, and for dance music in all its forms, if such a space is consigned to memory.

Plastic People put up their full statement today, it's available to view on the Save Plastic People Facebook group
. Join the group and stay tuned for announcements from the newly-formed Friends of Plastic People about how to help -- if this legal process is to be fought and won, it's going to need active support.

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