Sub.Culture, Nightlife

Sub.Culture, Nightlife

When a 60s fashion photographer shot a 90s underground club night

The late Terence Donovan is best known for shooting fashion in the swinging 60s. But back in 96 he followed his son to The Que Club in Birmingham.

7/28/2021 9:26:00 AM

When a 60s fashion photographer shot a 90s underground club night! The late Terence Donovan is best known for shooting fashion in the swinging 60s. But back in 96 he followed his son to The Que Club in Birmingham. See more:

The late Terence Donovan is best known for shooting fashion in the swinging 60s. But back in 96 he followed his son to The Que Club in Birmingham.

, here he turned his attention on partygoers in sportswear and glittering tees, with bare chests, punk mohawks and big smiles. His attending the club that night had been Terry's idea, following House of God's move to the new venue."It was one of the first times I'd been involved in something where I had seen exponential growth, and it felt like 'wow, you can do something cool, and it can grow without having to eat its young'. It was an incredible privilege to DJ there, and I just wanted to him to see that. He showed up with his camera and understood the energy, picking out some incredible characters."

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Shot in an era before camera phones and ahead of club photography's omnipresence, Terence's images not only document the fashion of the time but provide an engrossing record of nightlife pre-livestreams and social media."You definitely get the sense in the images that Dad produced that people were largely unaware of his presence," Terry says."Even the people who were aware of him are clearly relaxed and unselfconscious. He had a staggering ability to go up to somebody and make them feel comfortable. His lens was very much in the middle of the crowd on the main dancefloor, and he managed to capture the individuality and intimacy of characters within all that intensity."

Examining them today, in a moment when both Covid and Tory policy have left many of the UK's nightclubs permanently shuttered, the images are a further example of something lost."It seems an apt, if particularly poignant, time to bring fresh eyes and a new scrutiny to these pictures," Anthony says,"looking at pictures of crowds mingling unselfconsciously and moving together en masse truly does feel like viewing a moment from the past." The power of nostalgia, too, cannot be overlooked in an age when contemporary culture has a fierce interest in the 90s and early 00s, particularly within the clubbing arena."I wonder if it has something to do with the house and techno scenes maturing and morphing at the time into the beginning of what they look like today," Terry says."The energy was fantastic, there were so many places where you could go and have what felt like life-changing experiences. I remember the whole period very fondly and in remarkable detail! I don't think it's unique to the 90s or 00s but the intensity of that period was special and worth revisiting over and over." headtopics.com

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