Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994

A year-long project researching the interplay between people, location, architecture and culture, and its influence on radio and rave launches a publication and map on 26 June 2020.
Rendezvous Projects have collected previously unpublished photographs and flyers, and recorded 30 oral histories with DJs, pirate radio station owners, businesses and ravers; and now presents the results of the project in a limited-edition publication which maps this ecosystem and community.

Waltham Forest, in outer East London played a pivotal role in the development of dance music and subculture. This has not previously been documented. During the 1970s the borough became home to a significant number of West Indian families who brought sound system culture from Jamaica to a local audience. During the 1980s pirate radio took over as a platform for broadcasting and sharing new music, and stations across the borough were housed in estates which have long since been demolished. Ravescene, a national magazine was produced in Chingford; Lennie De Ice, who’s We are IE tune is often credited as being the first jungle tune, grew up and lived in Walthamstow; DJ Rap, voted #1 female DJ in the world, learnt to mix at Record Village, Walthamstow; there were a number of influential clubs such as the Dungeons, as well as around 20 record shops like In the Mix run by Ronnie Herel, or Dance Factory run by Linden C and Rob Acteson; a network of ancillary businesses like banner painting and equipment hire. A number of highly influential DJs and producers either grew up or lived in the area at the time and have shared their memories with us.

These include Roy Balfourth (Mad B / Formula 7 / Founder of Friends 100.7FM), Chelsea-Louise Berlin (raver and collector of flyers), Linden C (Producer, DJ / Promoter of Hypnosis), Andy Clockwork (Eruption FM), Dlux (DJ, Producer), DJ Louise, DJ Rap, DJ Vicki Edwards, Adrian H (DJ, Producer), Ronnie Herel (DJ, Producer, Record Shop Manager), Gordon Mac (Kiss FM Founder), MC Navigator (MC, Hype man, Presenter), Roger the Doctor (DJ), Slipmatt (DJ, Producer), Mike Stone (Founder of Dance 93.0FM, Promoter of Empathy State of Mind),and DJ Warlock. Extracts of these appear in the book with the addition of contributions from Lennie De Ice and Brain Records.

“Carl Cox used to come in, lug the speakers all by himself, ask us, ‘… is there any room to DJ?’ and we’d be like, ‘No, we’ve got our DJs Carl’, not being horrible though. Done the same thing every week for like six months… he gave up asking in the end if he could DJ… Now he’s probably the biggest DJ in the world.” – Linden C talking about the Hypnosis nights at Dungeons.

The book and map are designed by Claudia Schenk of Trockenbrot (ISBN 9780955540080). It’s printed by Aldgate Press in a limited print run of 1000 copies. It’s 24 pages, A5, saddle stitched and printed in one spot colour green on Kaskad Flamingo Pink paper, with a folded B2 size map as jacket, full colour printed on 100gsm Arcoprint. It will be available to buy from our online shop. It documents five influential and former pirate radio stations, with quotes from the oral histories of founders and DJs; it includes memories from record shop owners, punters, venues and businesses. The full colour wrap around map shows the physical locations of the radio stations in former estates with QR codes to playlists, and the reverse of the map is a full colour poster of flyers and previously unpublished photographs.

Katherine Green, project lead for Rendezvous Projects said, “We’ve managed to capture a range of voices to tell the story of a significant and intense period in national music history but from a local perspective. It demonstrates the ingenuity of working-class young people and how their creativity, plus mix of cultural backgrounds, positively impacted and influenced a generation of young people”.
Rendezvous Projects is a Community Interest Company based in Waltham Forest. Its main purpose is to find creative ways of exploring and capturing social history. Recent projects include Lightboxes and Lettering; Printing Industry Heritage in East London, focussing on the pre-digital era of printing in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest and WE, a major project exploring a housing estate which included an exhibition, publication, website and mobile phone app.

The project was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund with the Museum of Youth Culture as an archive partner.


Damion Pell
About the Author

Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.