Talking about a revolution

The relentless rise of Speed Garage is splitting clubland in two. Is it rescuing clubbing or killing it? asks Cayte Williams
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Clubbers are like trainspotters. Get them on the subject of their favourite music and it's like listening to an anorak discussing the merits of the 16.55 from Paddington. Behind all the "up for it" club talk, there is an army of floor-stompers, faithful to The Cause, be it Garage, Drum 'n' Bass, Hard House, Happy House or any of the permutations within.

But clubland is going through a crisis. House and Garage have ruled the roost for 10 years, and clubbing has become predictable. Even Jungle never posed a threat to their monopoly (by virtue of the fact that hardly anybody could dance to it) and so the beat went on... and on... and on.

Now top commercial DJs are quaking in their boots, as a new sound is threatening the status quo on the dance floor. Speed Garage is fast, furious dance music that is spreading like wildfire throughout Britain's clubs. Its DJs are in demand in London, Liverpool, Manchester and beyond, and the big record labels are fighting over themselves to sign them up. The music press devotes pages to recording its rise, with i-D, Muzik and Mixmag magazines particularly championing its cause.

"A lot of money has been made in mainstream House," says music journalist Bethan Cole. "There are people at the top who have invested in the sound they play and when something as revolutionary and multicultural as Speed Garage comes along, it's a very big threat to the powers that be."

Clubbers flock to Speed Garage nights because they give them what they want: a glamorous catwalk dress code, a champagne culture and danceable music. "Girls didn't want to dance to jungle," says Muzik's Ben Turner, "but they'll dance to Speed Garage. And where the girls go, the boys follow."

Has Speed Garage saved commercial clubbing? "Last year, the attendance at Ibiza went down by 21 per cent," says Trevor, promoter of Speed Garage club Sun City. "The market started to shrink. This year, a lot of the underground DJs went to Ibiza and changed all that."

Friendships and reputations have been broken over Speed Garage, such is the passion for and against it. "My friends invited me down to a Speed Garage club," says one disillusioned London clubber, "and I told them I didn't like the music. They're very offish with me now. But these DJs are taking tracks that are only four or five years old and re-mixing them. They've taken an old bass-line and repeated it 400 times. It's like listening to the intro of one song for six hours."

Tony Portelli, a promoter for the Speed Garage DJs Dreem Teem, says, "A few months ago a producer friend of mine called me up and said: 'You're on the other side now, you're not one of us any more.' He has never called me since." Garage purists are furious that Speed Garage DJs are playing twisted up old Garage classics on Freek FM - the station to listen to on a Friday night - and often comment "I don't know who that is by, but I like it."

However, Speed Garage goes from strength to strength. Two pioneering underground DJs - Matt "Jam" Lamont and Karl "Tuff Enuff" Brown - took over the Kiss FM Saturday-night hot spot in July and haven't looked back. "Tuff Jam did their first show on the 1am-4am slot," explains Paul Thomas of Kiss FM. "We received a huge number of letters and calls about them, and our research found they were the station's favourite, so we put them on the 7pm-9pm slot on Saturday."

When Tuff Jam and Dreem Teem play The Ministry of Sound it's a sell- out. But it's not just a London thing. Dreem Teem are booked to play in Berlin and Amsterdam next month and Cream, the Liverpool superclub, want them for early next year. Garage Nation in Manchester is fast becoming a Speed Garage mecca and in Scotland they are booking Speed Garage DJs to play in Jungle clubs.

Whether this clubbing phenomenon will burn itself out, only time will tell. But, for now, everyone wants a piece of the action. Jungle died the day a hair commercial used it as a soundtrack. When will the car advertisers get their hands on Speed Garage?

How to jump on the Speed Garage bandwagon

Where to go

Twice As Nice, Sunday nights at The Colliseum, Nine Elms Lane, London SW8; Pure Silk, Saturday nights at The SW1 Club, Victoria Street, London SW1; The Awakening, Saturday nights at The Powerhouse, Waterden Road, London E15; Sun City, Saturday nights at Adrenalin Village, Chelsea Bridge, London SW3; Exposure with Freek FM DJs, 21 Dec at Bagley's, York Way, London N1.

What to wear

Anything by Dolce e Gabbana, Versace and Armani. At Twice as Nice nights at The Colliseum, they use projections of catwalk shows, so make sure that you dress up. Girls wear long, slinky dresses with high heels, black leather mini-skirts or Versace print trousers. You should look like you have spent a week - or a fortune - on your hair and make-up. Boys wear long black leather jackets, Dolce e Gabbana T-shirts and sunglasses.

What to drink

Champagne. That's it.

What to listen to

Tuff Jam Presents Underground Frequencies Vol 1 (Satellite BMG); Dreem Teem in Session Vol II (Deconstruction, released on 15 Dec); "It's A London Thing" by The Dub Monsters (Fifty First Recordings); "RIP Groove" by RIP (Satellite); Speed Garage Vol 1 by the Untouchables, mixed by Nigel Benn and DJ Ride(Powerhouse); "Cape Fear" by KMA (KMA Records); "Bizzi's Party" by Bizzi (Rhythm Series); Freek FM radio station broadcasts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

How to dance to it

Dance number one:

Stand with your elbows at your sides, stretch your hands out, palm upwards and clench your fist. Stick you bottom out and wiggle your legs furiously.

Dance number two:

Dip your right shoulder and lean to the right. Keep your elbows by your side and stick your hands out to the side clenching your fists. Move up and down on the spot by bending your knees out to the side. You'll look cool, honest.

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