The Week In Radio: A rave review for this techno titan's trip back in time


If your legs start twitching when you hear "Jack Your Body" and the scent of Vicks VapoRub sends you into a nostalgic reverie; if you still dream of havin' it large at the Ministry of Sound at the weekend but can't stomach the cost of a babysitter; if you're an ex-raver of a certain age then you could do worse than switch on to Radio 2 on a Saturday night and listen to the network's latest appointment, the long-serving dance DJ Dave Pearce.

Yes, that's right, Radio 2. For the mature yet devoted dance fan, the type who thought they'd be dancing into their dotage and who vowed they would never let anything – children, mortgages, aching joints – get in the way of a weekend waving glowsticks and gurning wildly in a field in Wiltshire, this will seem very wrong indeed.

What on earth, you might ask, is Pearce, a titan of the techno scene and a man who still commands huge crowds at gigs across the world, doing on this most conservative of stations, essentially a retirement home for clapped-out Radio 1 DJs? Where exactly does he fit in among those crinkly old-timers Terry Wogan, Paul O'Grady and Ken Bruce?

Well, I have news for you. You – oh all right, we – got old. So just as we must acknowledge that T-shirts with Day-Glo graffiti-style insignia don't look good wrapped around middle-aged bodies, and that strobe lights were once pretty cool but are now more likely to bring on a migraine, we must accept that we are now Radio 2's target audience.

And so it was that Dave Pearce: Dance Years arrived drenched in nostalgia, with Pearce wheeling out old-school club classics, from Snap! to Happy Mondays to "Sesame Treet" by Smart E's, which allowed his audience of thirty- and fortysomethings to look back longingly at a time when all they had to worry about was student loans, Saturday jobs and how to get to and from the party. If our host felt that broadcasting to a demographic that was unlikely to have seen the inside of a nightclub for 10 years or more was a depressing turn of events, he did a good job of hiding it.

Along with transporting us to the dancefloors of our youth, Pearce read out texts and emails in which listeners recalled the lost weekends of 20 years ago, many of them acknowledging the passing of time that had yielded new adventures in the form of relationships, jobs and children. He also reminded us of the epochal raves of the early Nineties, from Vision at Popham Airfield and the week-long free party at Castlemorton that prompted a moral panic amid the Conservative government and led to anti-rave legislation. There was a warmth and maturity to these shared memories, rather than melancholy. For those of us listening at home, with children asleep upstairs, it was a pleasant sojourn into the past and a reminder that life had changed, mostly for the better. And that Radio 2 perhaps wasn't so bad after all.

There were memories of a different kind on BBC 6 Music as presenter Tom Robinson, with the help of listeners, put together a play list inspired by The Ramones. It was a broader remit than it sounded, bringing together not only the great punk-rock bands of the Seventies, from The Heartbreakers to The Clash, but contemporary bands still in their thrall. Rather than an exercise in nostalgia, it was a lesson in musical evolution, illustrating the enduring relevance of long-gone bands and joining the dots between old and new.

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