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Food and Frontlines: An Audiotour

7 / 12 St Mark's Rise, The Blues Party Street

Basement blues parties drowned out the homesick blues along St Mark's Rise.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the night let down her hair and shook her bare shoulders. Soundsystem culture - big in Jamaica – first took root in London through the blues parties. On a Saturday night, ravers followed the beat of the bass towards a darkened room in somebody's home. Winstan Whitter, Pauline Brown, Michael McMillan and Clive Hewitt recreate the chest-shaking sounds, dance moves and sensations. Wardrobe-sized custom speakers, boisterous ‘toasters and MCs’ and ‘selectas’ dropping fresh 'wax' (vinyl) kept them dancing until noon the next day.

Residents would charge a small entry fee and perhaps sell curry goat and rum punch to make a little extra money. 

‘Africa Incarnated’, 1977 by Oke Martin, performed by Winstan Whitter:

'And so they danced
through the streets of Babylon
chanting the message
in melodious languages
and all who heard
recognised the meaning
and all who listened
left their apathy behind them.' 



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TFC railings at the junction of St Mark's Rise and Ridley Road, 2016 © Patrick Henry
Admiral Ken Sound System, 1974 © Dennis Morris/ V&A Museum