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How the smoking ban killed drum and bass

Rolling beats, heavy bass with sweet soft melodies and a husky voice keeping you up and dancing. These are the sounds of drum and bass. When it first exploded into the music scene in the mid 1990’s (a descendant of jungle) it was the perfect accompaniment to the rave scene of free parties and free love.

By the time I was eighteen and entering the club scene it was big news, names like Pendulum and Chase and Status were about to bring it into the charts and acts like Ratpack and Goldie had perfected their sets for masses of clubbers. The weekend began on Friday with little or no sleep until Sunday.

The music created a secret space for those who were in the know, another dimension where they could just move with the music. As the music rolled on you lost track of time, you became absorbed within it and it became absorbed within you. The next thing you knew it was closing time and you’d been dancing for eight hours straight and you still wanted more!

Hospitality Drum and Bass Night

When the smoking ban came in, most people hardly noticed the difference, you’d dance and drink and then pop out for a cigarette and a chat before returning to the dance floor. However in the drum and bass circles this act of ‘popping out for a fag’ disturbed the natural flow of the music. You’d just get into the swing of things the music would start bringing you up and then you’d want a cigarette. Before the ban when you wanted one it would be during the middle of a fantastic breakdown so that when it dropped you’d have a fag in your hand waving it above your head as you rocked your body in time with the bass. Now you had to leave, you missed the drop and went outside for a cigarette.

While you were out there everybody has had time to realise how hot and sweaty they were, meaning they wanted to stay out longer to cool down, then because everyone was feeling so sociable they stopped to have long in-depth chats with one another, the kind you’d normally save for the after party and by the time you got back in you were at a completely different part of the set. Your body was thrown out by the change in pace and it took a while to get back into the rhythm and to let your body and the music be as one again. Just as you’ve got it your friend turns round and utters those (fateful) words, “I need a cigarette” and then the whole palaver started again.

So then Dub-step was invented and for a while at least it gave the ravers what they demanded. Dub-step is currently one of the most popular forms of club music, it is similar to drum and bass with all the wobble and the grime but with one important difference; Dub-step is a broken sound, it is still a journey but it is a broken distorted journey, it is the slow train that you can jump off when you want a break and still catch up when you want to jump back on.

About The Author

Eva Marie Wilshere

I am a student at Sussex University studying Media Practice and Theory specialising in scriptwriting and editing. I was in a rock band called 'Snakejuice' for four years whilst also running club nights including, Muy Loco, Contra and Age2Age. More recently I was part of a music production course where I created some songs for a cd which I have transferred onto Soundcloud, I have a poetry blog I have written since I was thirteen and a photography blog which I did as part of my course. All can be accessed through links on my About Me page:

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