Going Underground by Jay Wearden

Jay Wearden’s fascinating new telling on his life as a DJ captured in this 24 chapter coffee-table book, along with playlists and artwork, is a vital companion to the story of Manchester club culture. The title alone explodes: Going Underground could mean a number of different things at any one time. Like a myth shattered, dreams unexplored. We are where we are, after all. 2020.

The background to his story begins with the gang ‘culture’ of east Manchester provoking mixed feelings of anger and a sense of wasted time yet ends with one of the finest DJ’s the city produced. Hip-Hop was the starting point in 1985. As it was for so many and the early influence of the DJ’s from local radio has been namechecked in full. From an early experience DJ’ing at Glastonbury to days filled with vinyl at Eastern Bloc Records this all sparks the warmth of familiarity to me. The description of E Bloc and its constituents brought back a lot of good memories from those times placing that locations story at the heart of it all.

(Thunderdome DJ Box)

Which leads us on to one of Manchester’s most significant clubs The Thunderdome. You will have your own theory as to why it gets left out of the endless history, perhaps overshadowed by The Hacienda, but Jay’s description of it seems crazed and somewhat magical. From there a string of other residencies fill the pages such as The Banshee and Hippo’s. However, the one thing running throughout is dedication to the music’s integrity and its underground ethos – perhaps not paramount to some other DJ’s. By the early 90’s we arrive at STREETrave at Ayr Pavillion which sounds like life on another planet. Another time and place.

Filled with the story of experience you get a real sense of a life lived through it all, evolving with the excitement of each new club eventually landing on Sunset Radio with the Clash FM show afterhours. I’m guessing you can only picture the scene!

By the second half events take a different turn with Jay’s thoughts on Rave and how things developed cutting to the chase: ‘For me personally by ‘91, the authenticity had gone. The purity had gone.’

After stopping DJ’ing not long after another chapter opened. In the meantime Jay’s thoughts on being a DJ, etiquette, guest lists and so on are then generously explored. I love the chapter titled: DJ’s are not cool. But despite the hilarity / irony of what that suggests it’s actually a full bodied critique on life and happiness in general, offering a wealth and warmth of advice.

Looking forward to 2021 and The Thunderdome Rebuilt

Order: Going Underground via https://www.facebook.com/JayWearden1988

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