London’s nightlife has been fighting a losing battle against what many think is unfair policing, unnecessary regulation and gentrification. A growing fear is that this thwarts freedom of expression, prevents the emergence of music or fashion subcultures and fosters intolerance. As a response to this hostility party-goers are forced further away from Central London, typically eastward, to seek out alternative venues like abandoned ware-houses or empty fields on the fringes of the city.
The Youth Club was set up as a response; it is a non-profit that works towards ‘preserving, sharing and celebrating youth culture’. They produce content about music, fashion and lifestyle subcultures, and promote this content through exhibitions, events and more. They have jointly curated exhibition Origins East with the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen.
The exhibition features a selection of images from the PYMCA (Photographic Youth Music Culture Archive), all shot by photographers who were themselves immersed in these worlds. Like Gavin Watson, best known for his extensive documentation of skinheads and punk culture; “I just wanted to party and happened to be there with a camera. I didn’t even like the images I took at the time because I thought they weren’t as well composed as my other work. Years later I looked at them again and realised I had photographed an interesting time in history. And that the [spontaneous, un-posed] moments I had captured were actually a great representation of the scene.”
The photographs from Origins East, which document the ‘defining days of rave culture, acid jazz, and bhangra’ will be on display at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen till 22nd August. Images will be auctioned and all the proceeds will be split between The Museum of Youth Culture & Night Time Industries Association. Fundraising aside, The Youth Club hopes this exhibition will encourage young people to keep resisting the status quo and indulging in unabashed self-expression.
The Youth Club is working towards setting up the Museum of Youth Culture by the year 2020, a permanent space that will house imagery, objects and art that represents the ‘rich tapestry of social movements, subcultures, sounds and styles’ of contemporary Britain and generations past.