Friday, May 03, 2013

Peckham Dolehouse Revisited

Tonight (Friday 3rd May) the spirit of late1980s/early 1990s London squat culture will reappear at the Peckham Palais, 1 Rye Lane SE15 with 'The Dolehouse Reunion'.

The Peckham Dolehouse was a famous squat that ran from Spring 1989 to October 1990 in an empty Department for Health & Social Security building in Collyer Place off Peckham High Street (the buiding still stands by Peckham Lidl).

The Dolehouse Crew and Green Circus put on many gigs and parties. As recalled by John Heathcote: 'Downstairs, in the signing on office where the booths still lined the far wall, would be a selection of DJs playing everything from ambient dub to banging Techno, and upstairs would be the live area, followed at about 3 or 4 a.m. by dance floor DJ's. The venue acted as a catalyst for the many diverse elements of urban and traveling culture under threat from the Tory laws on everything from squatting to free assembly'.

Bands who played there included RDF, One Style MDV, Ruff Ruff n Ready, Snapus, The Levellers, Back to the Planet, The Sea, Dread Messiah, Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys, BTF, Citizen Fish, Tottenham AK47's, The Fatcats, Poisoned Electrick Head, Ululators, Moksha, Arriba Mundi, Dave Howard Singers, 7 Kevins and Bulbous Skunk Cabbages, to name but a few.
Viva La Dole House badges

Some of these bands  became massive for a while in the so-called Crusty scene, particularly Brighton's The Levellers who played at the Dolehouse. Of the South London bands, Peckham's Back to the Planet had the most success - remember seeing them headline at the Camden Palace (now Koko). Ruff Ruff & Ready supported The Stone Roses at the legendary 1990 Spike Island gig.

The Dolehouse was also one of the places that  paved the way for the 1990s free party scene, which was much more sound system than band based. Back to the Planet's drummer Henry Cullen went on the help develop the London Acid Techno sound (along with the Liberator DJs and others) as D.A.V.E the Drummer.

The first party at The Dolehouse, 10 June 1990 complete with vegan cafe and bands
(I believe the Seven Kevins played)

The Dolehouse, 31st March 1990, with bands including The Levellers, The Sea, Wat Tyler and Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys.  The promised 'chill out lounge' was no doubt much needed after a long day of rioting - that was the day of the Trafalgar Square Poll Tax riot.

Anyway tonight there's a Dolehouse Reunion at the Peckham Palais put on by Reknaw and Virus Sound Systems with some of the key bands from the Dolehouse days, including Back to the Planet, The Sea, RDF and Dread Messiah. It's £12 on the door (facebook event details here - from where most of the photos here have been sourced)

Many of these bands also played at the 1990s Deptford Urban Free Festivals in Fordham Park


Tim said...

Interesting. As a teenager I once made up a large part of the audience at a Back to the Planet gig in Aberdeen in the mid-90s. Not sure crusty scene travelled well.

Nigel said...

Aaaah - those were the days :)
Couldn't make it to the re-union sadly, but fondly remember dancing where I had previously signed on. Did the same thing later on at Cooltan on Coldharbour lane :)
Bring back One Style MDV I say!