While House is an easily identifiable musical genre which emanated from Chicago in the early 80s and is traceable back to hi-NRG, European synthpop and New York Electro, exactly what Acid House is has been a thoroughly confusing issue.
The purists say it is a House rhythm spiked with the warped, wobbling, bubbling, billowing sound of the Roland bassline synth.
Tracks of this ilk were picked up in Ibiza and transported back to Britain by DJs such as Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway, some of whom had been working holiday clubs such as The Koo and Amnesia for several seasons.
In an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Ibiza, Oakenfold staged after-hours private parties at his Project Club in Streatham (London) spinning ‘Acid’ tracks – mostly American low-budget singles comprising trance-inducing repetitive keyboard and bass patterns intercut with disinterred soul riffs and random sampled noise – and his success led to him opening a club called Future in the West End. Around the same time, Rampling began Shoom in South London.
By the summer Oakenfold and Walker were hosting Spectrum at the 1,000 plus capacity club, Heaven, and there were other contenders in Steve Proctor’s Elysium, Holloway’s The Trip and Dave Dorrell (of M/A/R/R/S notoriety) with Love, as well as legal and illegal warehouse jams, one-nighters and all-dayers such as Hedonism and The Sunshine Carwash.
Acid House took off during July and August 1988 in London and other big cities. The club-cum-warehouse party scene went mental over Chicago and New York cuts like Acid Trax by Phuture, Baby Wants To Ride by Jamie Principle and Acid Over by Tyree.
Feet firmly anchored to the dance floor, bodies swaying in a state of delirious abandon (occasionally amplified by the ingestion of a half-tab of Ecstasy), grinning permanently, the inhabitants of Acid clubs were clearly having more fun than anybody else.
Love and peace. Are you on one, matey? Hug and kiss. Mine’s a Lucozade, and so on . . .
Like punk before it, Acid House was a cult fanned by the media into a mass market industry. Major labels latched on to the music, high street stores launched the fashion accessories, and newspapers moralised about the drugs.
Acid’s most lasting legacy may have been its role in reinvigorating rock music via an injection of dance beats.