“You ain’t been nowhere ’til you been in –Bryan Ferry
With the “in” crowd.”
In 2004 I decided that I wanted to learn why people do the things they do. So, with nothing more than that vague notion, and jumping in at the deep end, I set out on a psychology degree through the Open University. That journey was to last nearly seven years. The first year was a foundation course in social science, and my interest was piqued in the very first chapter with the concept of moral panic and music – mods and rockers fighting on the beaches of seaside towns in the ’60s.
I was reeled in straight away because I could relate to it. Whilst I was neither a mod nor a rocker I had been a punk rocker in my mid-teens (without the haircut) and I felt a strong affiliation with people who also liked the music. It was our thing. At that time I knew from within, as someone who enjoyed the music and the banter around it, that punk was not the breakdown in civilisation that the press would have us believe. I knew it was being hyped as such and therefore I also knew (although I didn’t know the term at the time) that it was a moral panic.
As an aside, with hindsight perhaps the funniest outrage was hissed from the forked tongue of a member of the Greater London Council, Bernard Partridge. “My personal view on Punk Rock is that it’s disgusting, degrading, ghastly, sleazy, prurient, voyeuristic and nauseating. I think most of these groups would be vastly improved by sudden death.”
If I’d been aware of the quote at the time I’d have put it on my wall!
The notion of in-groups and out-groups is a well-researched psychological concept called Social Identity Theory. If I can do it justice in a single sentence, this states that our personal identity and self-esteem is formed by the groups we associate with (football, music, family, religion, etc.)
I am not religious. Well, at least not in the sense that I believe there is some omnipresent being, person or persons watching and judging us. (Not counting the nation state and CCTV cameras, of course; check out Thee Deadtime Philharmonic’s Protected video)
But I do believe that some things unite us, and in that sense music is my religion.
I experienced at first hand the lifetime bonds that music can create over the past week. In my blog – Remix! – at the beginning of April, I referenced a venue in Glasgow that I used to frequent in the early ’80s. It was called Night Moves and the promoter managed to put on superb band nights in a 400-capacity venue between 1981-1984: Bauhaus; The Birthday Party; Gang of Four, Au Pairs, Fad Gadget; The Smiths; The Fall; Cocteau Twins, and so on … and it had a wonderful indie disco. As part of the research for Remix! I found a Facebook group of folk who used to attend the club and about a week later I joined the group.
Straight away the former owner and promoter from back in the day sent me some other images, including putting my memory bang to rights about the size of the video screen. Other group members recall Soft Cell’s banned Sex Dwarf “chainsaw” video being played (one of only two venues that hadn’t had it confiscated by the police – another moral panic!) with other video favourites being Bela Lugosi’s Dead and A Forest. I’ve only got a vague memory of these, probably distorted by voddy with orange cordial.
The other surprise was finding a lost friend after about 35 years. When I looked at the list of group members I noticed the name of a friend and neighbour called Stephen who I’d lost touch with when I moved away from Glasgow in 1986. We went to many gigs together at the time so I tried my luck and asked if it was the same chap … and it was!
When we started talking about the bands we’d seen (or not seen – in Gateshead in 1982 we saw U2, The Beat and Gang of Four but sat in the bus waiting the trip back to Glasgow when so-called headliners, The Police, appeared) it felt like yesterday.
So music was our in-group, in particular the Glasgow indie music scene in early ’80s. And through the wonders of the internet in 2019 we stumbled across each other again.
All kneel at the altar of music.
Lyrics: The “In” Crowd © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., HAL LEONARD CORPORATION.
RS21: “Anarchy in the UK: The people and the politics that produced punk rock” , accessed 22/4/19
https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html, accessed 22/4/19
Thee Deadtime Philharmonic Protected via YouTube, accessed 22/4/19
Night Moves image: courtesy of William Potts / Night Moves Facebook Group