Labba Labba Labyrinth

Original post here –


We spoke to Joe Wieczorek, promoter of the legendary Dalston club night.

Joe Wieczorek is feeling a bit rough. The man behind Labyrinth, one of rave era East London’s most respected clubs, is recovering from a mate’s 60th.

Wieczorek is an odd name for someone with such a south London lilt. He tells me it’s Polish: “I was adopted. My [adoptive] father was demobbed at Edinburgh in 1945,” having served in the Polish Free Army. “[He] came down to London, met my mum, she had a bad accident, they couldn’t have kids, I was adopted. There you go. That was it, 1957.”

He tells me his birth mother left him at a convent in Ealing before she “dived off back to Ireland,” but adds he really hasn’t chased it up and can’t expand much further.

It’s hard not to crack up at the confusion he faces when people delve into his heritage, as if his cockney speech patterns were an elaborate put-on. “Yeah, yeah Polish mate. I’m the most unlikely Pole you’ll ever come across. You know what I mean? One or two people… when they find out my name, they see my persona and stuff like that, wow, you know what I mean? I’m not really Polish mate.”

But when he was 11, Wieczorek tells me, his parents took him to Auschwitz in a rather dark attempt to connect him to his roots. He wasn’t allowed on the tour, as he was under 15, so he was sat down with steak and chips at the Auschwitz hotel and told to wait instead. Trouble is, the food was wolfed down, and an 11-year-old Wieczorek “bunked into Auschwitz” alone.

He followed the route the tour party took into the camp, walking the majority of the way round on his own, before catching up with his parents. They had just found his grandfather’s photo on the wall, among the pictures of all the Poles that had been executed.

“It was the most surreal holiday ever,” Wieczorek says. “They took me to Poland and [then] we went to Berlin, [then] all these obscure Eastern Bloc places, and certainly then it was horrible. I lived on bread and jam and cornflakes out of the American dollar shop, I couldn’t eat none of that food they eat.

“Never ever really had the wish to go back, you know? After my dad died, the Polish side of it sort of dropped off, and I never really heard too much of them again to be honest.”

As a teen, partly due to this outsider upbringing, Wieczorek fell deeply into music and the subcultures of the time, flirting with skinhead culture before eventually working security backstage at concerts: Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and The Faces among them.

In 1987, he came across the nascent rave scene while working at a venue called Clink Street, when, at the height of his fame, Boy George held a party in which all the partygoers were given T-shirts as invites with the ubiquitous mascot of acid-house, the yellow smiley face, emblazoned on them, cordially inviting them to the “boy’s” birthday—quite an induction.

He then started to put roving illegal raves on under the banner of Labryinth in the late 80s, having forged a fire certificate, which he stole from under the fire officer’s nose. It worked.

One night in October 1988, when an inspector from Haringey police came to inspect his night with the SPG [Special Patrol Group] with him, Wieczorek assumed the worst. With his folder of papers and real and forged certificates in hand, the officer, after having walked round the venue said: “Well done son, congratulations on a well run party, have a nice weekend.”

“That really was our green light. And then after that, I thought, you know what, if we can blag him, we can blag anyone. About another year or so left right and centre we were taking liberties. Ferry Lane, Homerton High Street, you know, we were putting thousands in places, but after a while, they [police] came and had a chat with me.

“‘See you son, carry on, we’ll bury you, you’re going.’ That was all the warning I needed, you get that from Old Bill… time to have a little think. And that was how we went to Dalston Lane, it weren’t out of choice mate.”


The iconic Labryinth, based in the The Four Aces Club on Dalston Lane, is the reason we’re talking in the first place. Pressure from a combination of the police, the acid squad, and what we’ll euphemistically refer to as “local characters”, meant securing warehouse space was difficult, so Joe was forced into looking for a licensed premises.

After a year or so, the club grew on them. “In the end, even virtually a decade later, we didn’t want to go. We really did like it there. It was our place, we ran it, and we pretty much did it our way. Yeah, you could never repeat that, when I look back I think we were very fortunate, to have been there at that time. Most definitely in comparison to how it is now, because it’s nothing like it.”

Rave culture was fostered and embraced at Labryinth, where, under the stewardship of Wieczorek, acid house, hardcore, and jungle ruled the soundsystems. The crowd was mixed: black and white, gay and straight, all raving under one roof. Wieczorek tells me he’d see a true enemy in the dance and, thanks in part no doubt to the ecstasy, he’d no longer be a foe.

The number of nightclubs in London has almost halved since 2010, and things aren’t looking great across the rest of the country either. You’ve got to wonder, does Joe almost feel sorry for the younger generations now?

“Of course, absolutely, you know I’m very fortunate. I was a little sort of herbert when I was young, I copped the skinhead times of 69′ and 70′ and 71′, and I went to Tamla Motown and Trojan clubs and places like that, and I’ve seen two or three changes of culture. I’ve got to be honest with you, this one [rave] really has lasted longer than all of the others put together. But the one downside is now, after all these years, it’s taken a massive step backwards, clubs are returning to the sort of era of carpet and chrome, where Sharon and Tracy dance round their handbags.”


Wieczorek finds himself “horrified” by some of the practices he’s become privy to in contemporary clubs—with a promoter charging punters a pound for using the smoking area being a particular bugbear. The influence of gentrification, and increased security measures have, Joe says, made clubs comparable to prisons.

After a long spell in Dalston, Labyrinth took up residence in Tottenham for two years. This was followed by an eight year hiatus, the result of Sue, the love of his life and co-founder of the night, falling ill. He says it took him eight years to get over it.

It wasn’t until his best mate and regular DJ at Labryinth, Ginge, become ill with cancer that he was convinced to throw another Labryinth night again. Ginge played it, and was due to play a second event, before passing away a few weeks before.

“But by then, we had all reignited with each other again,” said Wieczorek, but what happens when the children of the Second Summer of Love grow up? “You know, some of the stories and the things that have happened to us all is incredible, and I didn’t realise how many people it had affected.”

Back on to Labryinth: “Someone showed me a thing on Facebook, and said: ‘There’s 15,000 people here Joe, they all liked your club.’ I was like ‘What?’, you know I looked through all the other pages, it was amazing.”

Looking back at his legacy, Labyrinth must be a source of real pride for Wieczorek, even if the memories are a bit misty. So what, to the uninitiated, was it like to be amongst it and be very much a pioneer of the second summer of love and the subsequent years?

“Amazing to be around, amazing to see it happen, especially over here what we were all used to with the football and this and that and the other. No one really liked anyone from a different area or a different colour, and all of a sudden, bang! You know, over night. Quite a journey.”

Those days of yore are remembered so fondly for good reason; without clubs like the Labyrinth, and promoters like Joe Wieczorek, we wouldn’t be here today.


In depth Happy hardcore article

from ID Mag – Originally written in 1995, just re-released.


Well worth a read – original post here . Also worth clcikign that link to see teh worst ever attempt at a happy hardcore playlist or Spotify. Obviously the 2016 intern that made it didn’t actually read the article.


Saturday Night at Club Labrynth in Dalston, London E8, and there’s an eerie sense of time travel in the air. There’s the music, for a start – old skool ‘ardkore, all frenetically staccato synth-stabs and octave-skipping piano oscillator-riffs that flicker like the aural equivalent of a strobe, topped with soul-diva histrionics and even the occasional, sped-up ‘Mickey Mouse’ vocal (one tune sample-accelerates “life is a mystery” from Madonna’s Like A Prayer).

Dancing, they make the kind of geometric hand-moves you haven’t seen in London clubs for years, and during the rinky-dinky fairy-tale keyboard interludes they outstretch their hands to the heavens. A few kids even sport white gloves! And there’s the MC exhorting the crowd in an east London accent with not a trace of junglist patois, asking “Can you feel the rush?”, chanting “Oi oi! Oi oi!”

It’s like we’ve gone back to 1992, like jungle never happened and the rave dream never died. Except there’s these subtle differences that betray the fact that hardcore is three years older. The music’s faster, for a start: a palsied 165-beats-per-minute (92′ hardcore was about 140 bpm). And the atmosphere is different – luv’d up but not mental, friendly yet reserved. People smile, ask for a sip of your Evian, gently pat your shoulder as they push through the crowd. But the eye contact is ever so slightly guarded. It’s like the scene is tentatively feeling its way back to the effervescent euphoria of hardcore’s golden age.

For it’s 1995, and this is happy hardcore – a bunch of kids across the UK who are trying to re-ignite the rave fantasy of love, peace and unity. Some are very young, teenagers who missed 1991/’92, who are only now going through the honeymoon period with Ecstasy and require the appropriate rush-activating soundtrack. Others are ’92 veterans in their early twenties, who were alienated when ‘ardkore turned first ‘dark’ and then jungalistic, who drifted odd into progressive house or garage for a while, but are now getting back into it.

Hardcore, the story so far
Once upon a time, hardcore was just hardcore, no prefix. And all hardcore was happy, in so far it was designed to enhance and intensify the Ecstasy experience. Almost all of the leading lights in today’s experimental drum’n’bass scene were making luv’d up loony choons back in ’92. Take Moving Shadow, now purveyors of ambient-tinged ‘audio-couture’. Back then, their roster was firmly on the happy tip, from Blame’s Music Takes You, with its percussive blasts of hypergasmic soul-diva vocal, to the near- symphonic elation of Hyper-On Experience tunes like Assention and Imajicka. As late as 1993, Moving Shadow put out some fiercely happy tracks, like Foul Play’s Open Your Mind and Finest Illusion. Even Goldie, the pioneer of dark-core, started out making deliriously, disturbingly blissed-out tunes like Rufige Cru’s Menace, complete with helium-shrill sped-up vocals.

So what happened? Well, partly in a violent swerve away from the commercialisation of hardcore (ie, the spate of kids’ TV theme-based chart hits like Sesame’s Treet and Trip to Trumpton that followed The Prodigy’s Charley), and partly as a reaction against the cartoon zany-ness of squeaky voices, producers began to sever the musical ties that connected hardcore to rave culture. They focused on breakbeats and bass (ie, the hip hop and dub elements), and removed the uplifting choruses and piano riffs (ie, the housey/disco aspects). A trace of techno persisted, but only in the form of sinister atmospherics. Emergent by the end of ’92 with tracks like Metalheads’ Terminator and Satin Storm’s Think I’m Going Out Of My Head, this new style was called ‘dark side’. It was almost like the scene’s inner circle had consciously decided to see who was really down with the programme, to deliberately alienate the ‘lightweights’. “It was mostly DJs who were into dark,” remembers Slipmatt. From his early days in SL2 (who scored a number two hit in ’92 with On A Ragga Tip), through to his current status as top happy-core DJ/producer, Slipmatt has pursued an unswervingly euphoric course. “All I heard from people at the time,” he recalls of the ‘dark’ era, “was moans.”

In retrospect, dark-core’s anti-populist head-fuck self-indulgence can be seen as a vital prequel to the astonishing ambient-tinged directions that drum’n’bass pursued through late-93 into 1994. But at the time, it turned people off, big time. It was no fun. Exuding bad-trippy dread and twitchy, jittery paranoia, dark-side seemed to reflect a sort of collective come-down after the E-fuelled high of ’92. Alienated, the punters deserted in droves to the milder climes of house and garage.

But not all of them. A tiny fraction of hardcore fans, who wanted celebratory music but weren’t prepared to forsake funky breakbeats for house’s programmed rhythms, stuck to their guns. Through ’93 into ’94, this sub-scene – derided within the drum’n’bass community, even as jungle itself was scorned and marginalised by the outside world – continued to release upful tunes. There was Impact, the label started by DJ Seduction, creator of the ’92 classic Sub Dub (with its enchanting sample of folk-rock maiden Maddy Prior) and idol of happy hardcore fanatic Moby. There was Kniteforce, the label founded by Chris Howell using the ill-gotten gains of Smart E’s Sesame’s Treet. And by early ’94, there was Remix Records, the Camden-based shop and label started by DJ/producer Jimmy J, with funding from Howell (who also records under the names Luna-C and Cru-L-T).

Seduction, Howell and Jimmy J are just three of prime movers in a happy hardcore scene that operates in parallel with its estranged cousin, jungle, but has its own network of labels, its own hierarchy of DJ/Producers, its own circuit of clubs. Labels like Hectic, Slammin’, SMD, Asylum and Slipmatt’s own Universal; DJs and DJ/artists like Vibes, Dougal, Brisk, Sy & Unknown, Force & Evolution, Poosie, Red Alert & Mike Slammer, Norty Norty, DJ Ham, Ramos & Supreme; venues like The Rhythm Station in Aldershot, Die Hard in Leicester, Club Kinetic in Stoke-On-Trent, Pandemonium in Wolverhampton, and, solitary bastions of the happy vibe in the heart of junglist London, Club Labrynth and Double Dipped.

Late last year, the tide started to turn for happy hardcore, as breakbeat fans started to recoil from jungle’s moody vibe. A massive boost came when happy anthem Let Me Be Your Fantasy by Baby D unexpectedly shot to Number One – a full two and half years after its original release. The song’s creator, Dyce, had stuck with the euphoric style right through the dark era; churning out happy classics like Baby D’s Casanova and Destiny, The House Crew’s Euphoria (Nino’s Dream) and Super Hero. But “Fantasy” is especially beloved, Dyce believes, because “it was inspired by the hardcore scene itself”; the lyrics sound like a love song, but it’s really a tribute to the culture of luv’d upness. Fantasy struck a chord with a growing current of rave nostalgia, expressed in ‘Back To 1991’ reunion events and in ‘old skool’ sessions on pirate stations. For younger kids just getting into the scene, it was nostalgia for something they never actually experienced – but such wistful wishfulness can be a potent force.

Right now, happy hardcore is big pretty much anywhere the white rave audience predominates: i.e. not London and Birmingham,where the heavy concentration of hip hop, soul and reggae fans means jungle has more appeal. Even in Scotland, whose rave audience has hitherto been hostile to

breakbeat-based hardcore, happy is taking off. “Impact and Kniteforce sell well here,” says Mark Smith, who was voted top DJ in Scotland two years running. “But I couldn’t play a pure breakbeat set just yet.”

There’s a widespread feeling that jungle has peaked, and that as ragga-jungle gets ghettocentric and art-core drum’n’bass gets increasingly esoteric, the punters are turning to happy hardcore. “At Dreamscape last year, the main floor was 60 per cent jungle, 30 per cent happy,” says top happy selector DJ Vibes, referring to the raves at the Sanctuary, Milton Keynes, which – at 6000 strong – are now the UK’s biggest events. “This year, it’s 60 per cent happy, 30 per cent jungle.” According to Josh Lawford, who co-runs Double Dipped, “it’s come full circle. Last year you could book the top happy DJ’s up to two weeks before the event. Now they’re all booked up six months in advance.” Jimmy J says that when he opened Remix Records a year ago, “we were selling

Britain’s biggest raver Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter on a life of thrills, pills and more pills

Biggest Raver eh?


Anyway decent interview over at Fact…

Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter talks about a lifetime of thrills, pills and more pills in Britain’s happy hardcore and hard dance scenes.

Source: Britain’s biggest raver Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter on a life of thrills, pills and more pills


Original here –

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. Following entries from the likes of Eats Everything, Herve, MK, Shadow Child, and Billon, we hit up Rinse FM founder and grime don Slimzee to hear about his virgin experience at the 90s hardcore mecca Labyrinth.

First club I ever went to was called Labyrinth or Four Aces on 12 Dalston Lane in Hackney. It was 1992 or 1993, and I was about 15 or 16. I remember a guy called Joe used to run it. There were a lot of hardcore raves going on. People were coming from up and down the country—not just London, but Cambridge, Stratford, and all these different places. The rave scene started around ’88, and I got into it in ’92. A few years later, it was drum and bass, jungle, garage, and grime.

Read: “The Four Aces Club Was The Jewel in Dalston’s Crown

My dad wouldn’t let me go. I’d be like, “I want to go to raves!” And he’d be like, “No you’re not.” My dad was protective of me. He was a bit worried cause I was DJing and getting into the music—so I didn’t tell him.

I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to do or what to expect. I was young, I loved the music so much, but I didn’t realize what it was about. I wasn’t sure if people were gonna put drugs in my drink. But I got in there with someone and that was it.

I think I was with my mate Geeneus. I was 15 when I started Rinse FM. This was just a little bit before. We started going about together. Labyrinth wasn’t far from our houses, so we didn’t have to go too far. I met a few mates there. The Prodigy—they’re big now, millionaires. Rat Pack—they were big in the 90s. Back then they were just normal people in the raving scene.

Labyrinth was dark, with stars and purple lights, trippy things. It was the 90s so people used to have ponytails and stuff. It was an ecstasy club—hardcore people dressed up in dustbin jackets, taking pills, acid, listening to hardcore, tripping, really. They would play loads of hardcore. All the ’92 DJs—Billy Bunter, Ellis Dee, Rat Pack, Lieutenant Stitch, Brockie… they’re drum and bass DJs now but they started off playing hardcore.

That night, it was Billy Bunter playing. He’s still around. I listen to him on Kool FM and he does his own rave now. We used to go to Paul’s for Music in Bethnal Green. It was an old record shop that used to sell hardcore. It’s shut down now. I used to go in and buy records for like six pounds each. It was quite a lot of money but I used to buy loads every week.

I would just go there, sit down, get a few drinks. Listening to the music, that’s how I knew I wanted to be a DJ. You would hear your favorite song in the rave, and you would want it. The ones you liked, the ones that were good for the rave, the ones people go mad to. I’d go down to the record shop and buy those tunes the next day. You’d want them all so you could play it. I just wanted to make people happy and play tunes that no one had. I was into the dark stuff with instrumentals, so I could get MCs over it.

Over the years, Rinse FM has come quite a long way. Loads of MCs got big out of it, people like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Skepta—they all come from Rinse. Back in the 90s, on the radio, there weren’t too many MCs. It was easy, there weren’t too much lyrics going on. MCs could say anything, like “Billy Bunter on the 1s and 2s.”

I would find out about these parties through looking at flyers. I would go during school break in the afternoon before dinner—I’d look at the flyers and go back to school. They’d be like, weird flyers—pictures of mad stuff, like Jesus and pills and animals. Trippy stuff, innit. You’d look on the back and see the DJs playing there. There was no Internet then, so there were some special raves, like boat parties or warehouses, where they would text you about an hour before, and tell you where the mystery rave is, ’cause they didn’t want the police to shut it down.

A Labyrinth flyer from July 24, 1993

A Labyrinth flyer from July 1, 1994

Pirate radio stations had quite a lot to do with it as well. Kool FM started in 92, Weekend Rush in 92, Impact in ’91, Touchdown, Flex—loads of stations I used to listen to before Rinse started would be promoting raves non-stop. Every two hours, there’d be adverts. Say you had a rave and wanted to promote it. You could pay the station 50 pounds for the weekend, and every two hours they’d play it. On Rinse, we used to charge 30 pounds. Every two hours they would record it and say, “yeah, come down to the club” and all that. The adverts would play for a half hour, all the raves, and you could pick which one you wanted to go to.

Labyrinth got shut down in ’98. It was a mad, mad little club—a good club, really. I would still go down there if it was still open.