Britain's acid house explosion of the late '80s changed London's, and the world's, nightlife forever. But while much of the retrospective publicity focuses on Danny Rampling's Shoom, a stone's throw away under a railway arch on Clink Street another party was taking place; a darker more underground affair on the site of a former prison. Throughout one solitary summer of '88, the RiP parties on Clink Street became a weekly pilgrimage for those seeking acid house at its rawest. Then as quickly as it appeared it was gone, with nothing to show the thousands of people who've walked past since that it was ever there.
“It was tough, you know, really really tough,” begins former RiP regular and DJ Ashley Beedle. “The sound was very much a very heavy black sound, very Chicago. There was a lot of ne'er-do-wells down there. A lot of football types, definitely. A lot of rude boys, black kids. But there was no trouble. I think a lot of that was to do with the pharmaceuticals that were goin' around...”
The RiP parties were started at the dawn of Britain's 'summer of love' by Paul Stone and Lu Vokovic in a 500 capacity abandoned wharf just south of the Thames. The music policy was notoriously harder and darker than its neighbour Shoom, with resident DJs Kid Batchelor, Evil Eddie Richards and Mr C playing a blend of acid house and newly imported techno in the main room, and The Shock Soundsystem Crew, of which Beedle was a member, in the back.
"It was like opening an oven door and feeling the heat hit you in the face," remembers Eddie Richards, now regarded as Britain's godfather of techno, who gained a residency after being introduced to Stone and Vukovic by fellow RiP DJ Mr C. "The place was so humid lighters wouldn't light and so dark sometimes I couldn't see the record on the turntable. I can picture seeing a silhouette of a guy against a windowless frame looking like he was on fire because the cold air was evaporating the sweat off his skin. The energy was always electric in there.”
RiP regular Grant Berry describes his first time at the party: “I never went to Shoom, well not at the original Fitness Centre – I couldn’t find it. What I did find was a blue door in an old wharf with two heavy geezers outside. It all looked slightly menacing. As I approached I could hear and smell it. To this day, whenever I hear the opening strains of Master C&J’s 'Dub Love', with its eerie synths and haunting moans, I’m transported right back to that doorway...”
“The crowd was different too – not the usual club faces I was used to,” Berry continues: “a real mix of terrace boys, black and white ravers, pseudo hippies. Hands and arms jackin' through the dry ice and strobes were the only sights you could see – that’s if you had your eyes open at all.”
Ashley Beedle recalls some now legendary moments at RiP. “There were three distinct characters we used to knock around with,” he says. “There was Roots, Shakespeare and Irish Vince. Irish Vince and Shakespeare in their heightened state decided to dig a hole from our room all the way to the outer most wall of Clink Street with a screwdriver. All I remember was this scream of delight and someone saying “you're not gonna believe this”, we all looked and we could just see Vince and Shakey at the far end digging through the wall.”
“I remember one particular morning we came out of Clink Street and we were walking over London Bridge and there was a load of old bill that were stopping and searching people. Then some bright spark started singing to the tune of Acid Man “Old bill! Old bill!” doing the acid noises – there was about two or three hundred people standing on London Bridge doing it. There was a real sense of unity. When you talk about it with people it seems like forever, but you're only really talking about one summer period.”
“Another time while we were playing 'Bring Down the Walls', there used to be this camouflage netting on the wall and everyone started tearing it down, all the fixtures and fittings came off the walls, it was absolute chaos. Brilliant though.”
Evil Ed's RiP tunes
Ashley Beedle's RiP tunes