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Book: Turntable Stories

Chapter: Analogue Lives: BYO Records in a Melbourne Club

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.46288


In the early nineties, a new alternative club opened in Richmond, Australia. My crew was fond of all the usual suspects – Clockwork Orange, Earwigs at Night, Oblivion –but this one promised something different. It was smaller than the others, for a start, and it played some lesser-known favourites to get us moving. More than that, you could take your own records for the DJ to play. And to his credit he did, Even if the songs weren’t immediately danceable and even if it meant only four people were swaying on the floor for those glorious, eternal three minutes. The club, and the DJ’s openness, bridged the space between large-scale venues and parties at someone’s house. It also brought the distant world of our music heroes (who were mostly from the northern hemisphere) a little closer. My memories of that time are defined by distance: a six-week wait for the NME to come off the boat with all the ‘latest’ music news; only rare appearances of the bigger indie bands, with no hope of seeing the smaller ones listed so prolifically in the UK gig pages. This DJ (who happened to be a very convincing lead singer of a Smiths cover band) brought some of that distant world into ours by letting us dance in public to music we’d likely never hear live in Melbourne. In this short memoir, I explore the wider significance of this democratisation of the deck, locating it alongside other analogue technologies of the time that encouraged a hands-on involvement with music and with community.

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