Here’s a reasonably entertaining film about the history of drum’n’bass co-directed by club scene entrepreneur Terry “Turbo” Stone, a man (apparently) once described as rave’s Richard Branson. Stone takes the opportunity to put his own One Nation club nights at the centre of the story, which gives his documentary a self-congratulatory tone. And presumably you really had to be there to get the most out of nostalgic reminiscences from middle-aged men shaking their heads and muttering with wry smile: “It was mad old time.”
In the late 80s, Stone says he was on the dole when he got into the illegal dance party scene; a natural born hustler, he began putting on his own nights. The anecdotes from the time sound like ancient history: 30 people huddled around a phone box to get the the secret location of a party; the M25 jammed with ravers in convoy to a field near Colchester.
Like punk, a DJ explains, drum’n’bass was music your parents didn’t understand. What made it radical, says another, is that it was mixed: black and white, everyone taking pills and getting high together. Tony went legit and put on big shows. One night he hired an impersonator of the Queen, and the ravers were so off their heads they thought Her Majesty really had come to check out their banging party at 2am. The illegal scene may have been a reaction against Thatcherism by the young, unemployed and alienated but, in retrospect, flashy Terry fitted in nicely with the get-rich-quick mood of the time.
The loved-up vibe darkened as drugs changed from pills to crack and cocaine in the late 90s: “Everyone standing there looking evil.” Stone pulled together a hard-as-nails security crew to protect his nights from gangsters, a mini-army in bulletproof vests that became almost as famous as the DJs. This section gives us the priceless line: “There is a misconception that doormen are knuckle draggers. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve met were bouncers.”
Stone went on to reinvent himself in the film business, producing and starring in the guns’n’geezers franchise Rise of the Footsoldier.
• United Nation Three Decades of Drum & Bass is released in the UK on 21 February.