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Bloody hell, theyre queuing overt bridge..

Theres a school of thought that that reckons that if you can remember the 60s then you werent really
there. Personally, I reckon thats complete bollocks & Ill elaborate on the reasons why. For a short
glorious period at the beginning of the last decade myself & a select bunch of scoundrels from the
Norley Hall & Marsh Green area consumed more class As than both the Woodstock & Isle of Wight
festivals combined. Keith Richards was reported to have expressed concern at our levels of substance
abuse & Lou Reed had paid lip service. Whats more, I can remember every single glorious, hedonistic
minute from innocent start right through to messy finish (usually around Sunday teatime in a dingy
bedsit off Darlington Street).
It was summer 1991 & Wigan had, en masse, discovered Ecstasy &, as a by-product of this, House
music. The catalyst which sent Wigan raving mad that summer was the big Revenge do up at Wigan
RU club. Fronted by the "enigmatic" Russ, Oggy & Locky, financed by Mick & flyered by a fledgling
Bri Cannon, this was, for most Wiganers, their first real taste of house music outside of the sterile Rock
FM type environment. & FUCK ME, they enjoyed it. However, if the Revenge shindig had lit the
touchpaper, it was The Pier nightclub, which, every Friday, took the rank & file of Wigans ravers
into orbit. This article will attempt to examine exactly what it meant to be a raver in those days &
what it was that made this textbook Janet & John club so popular, building a legacy which, rightly or
wrongly, still carries on today. All the old clichs such as decline in hooliganism due to E & plethora
of whats your name, where you from & what you had anecdotes have been done to death by social
commentators far more talented than myself so Ill stick to WIGAN tales told by WIGAN people.
I was at Uni over in Yorkshire & had got into the House scene as a natural progression from the soul &
funk scene round about 1987. Naturally, I frequented the likes of the Warehouse in Leeds & the
legendary Hacienda in Manchester as my home town held less than fuck all which tickled my fancy
musically. However, things started to change for the better round about Spring that year & mates of
mine whose musical taste (& I use that in its loosest possible sense) stretched no further than Simple
Minds & Erasure (& by the way, why exactly WERE Erasure so popular in Wigan in the late 80s?)
were suddenly blasting out the same Italian tunes I was buying from Jumbo over in Leeds in their Mark
2 Escorts. Suddenly, we were on the same wavelength & theyd discovered the joys of E. This being
Norley, of course, things were not about to be done by half & we proceeded to get Loved Up on an
unprecedented scale. As so often with these things, where the council estates led, the posher kids
followed & Wigan was soon awash with NafNaf sweaters & knowing winks exchanged down Wallgate
as you spotted a compatriot youd been off your tits at the side of the previous Saturday. It was our
secret but it wasnt long before it seemed every fucker was in the know!!!!! Charts UK suddenly
became the (only) place to get half decent tunes from & Bees Wednesdays, Park Thursday, Pier Friday
& Hacketts Saturday became the routine. Sleep was an afterthought & the only concern was to
consume as many narcotics as you could possibly afford in as short a timespan possible. More to the
point, & many of you younger readers out there are gonna have real trouble with this concept, we had
NO ALE!!! AT ALL!!! At least not in the early days anyway. Thank God for the Tory govt & the
recent introduction of the student loan. Who needed textbooks anyway? Or food, come to think of it..
During the course of my research (again, using that in the loosest possible sense) I spoke to several
people who were there at the time for their recollections & Pier resident Dj Ruddy tells how it all
started. Wed tried it early on in 1990 but it only started getting busy early 91. The night was called
Dreaming a Dream after an old Crown Heights Affair track. Ruddy was a modest unassuming Jock
whod cut his teeth musically under Mike Shaft & Colin Curtis at legends in Manchester & had built up
a formidable vinyl collection. The Ying to Ruddys yang was rotund Salfordian Malcolm Charles
Thorpe aka The Master Tee aka Dj Malc (depending on which creditor was after him that month).
Malc was your common or garden weddings parties & barmitzvahs jock, famous for his chilli eating
contests & spinning round a brush handle on the dancefloor then falling over competition. Perhaps the
greatest embodiment of being in the right place at the right time, he was proud of the fact that he had
no decks at home & it seemed that he was learning to beatmix, quite literally, before our very eyes as
the weeks went by. The routine usually went that Ruddy would find a tune, break it then Malc would
steal it & claim it as his own before playing it EVERY week. Ad infinitum!!!

The shenanigans that preceded the 9pm opening were itself a sight to behold. People would be milling
about from roughly 6.30 onwards or some of the older chaps would meet in the Orwell for a (nonalcoholic) drink. There would be the usual bout of who can come up with the most unorthodox hiding
place for my pills competition with males usually favouring the genital region (sellotape, pubes etc
OUCH) & the females employing sanitary products in a manner not even contemplated by Tampax.
Those who had neither the inclination nor the bottle for this usually dropped early & the first
evidence of gurning could usually be seen from about 8ish onwards. Overseeing all this were the
formidable & legendary Hongkins brothers. Phil was officially the manager but fulfilled more of a
meeter & greeter role, giving out free ice pops & lollies later in the night, usually in a failed attempt to
stop the rapid outbreak of jaw jut & manic chewing. His brother Dave who looked like a bigger,
harder version of Evander Holyfield accompanied him. Dave was fiercely anti narcotic & perhaps not
the ideal chap in this particular scenario!!!! It was Daves main job to walk up & down the queue
looking for people who were chewing a little too fast for his liking & Ill swear he took a perverse
pleasure in staring people out in the chill out area late on, purely in an attempt to bring them back down
with a bang.
Once past these two, it was customary to mingle a bit, perhaps check out who had pills on them for
later on when you inevitably needed more, get changed into more unconventional clothing, perhaps
partake of some narcotics then a) stay in exactly the same spot dancing ones tits off for approx. 4
hours or b) walk round in a circuit of the club chatting maniacally to anyone wholl listen for approx. 4
hours, pausing only to cadge a drink of water or visit the bogs to throw up. Or even c) if you were a
resident of the WN5 postcode, you would find something perilous to either climb onto or hang off &
perch there precariously for approx. 4 hours in an almost primeval display of territorialism. The half
moon seating area downstairs had its own peculiar aroma, which consisted mainly of Vic, Olbas Oil &
Tiger balm. Pity the fool (& there was always one) who forgot to wash his hands & almost had to have
the doctor due to either rubbing his eyes or having a piss after a liberal application of said products.
This would all be done to a backdrop of Italian house, Belgian techno & US Garage mixed , if not
exactly seamlessly, then with bags of enthusiasm. Malc would be trying the most outrageous of mixes
which didnt even belong in the same postcode, never mind genre & would be failing miserably ( Sam
Cooke over Beltram & Lonnie Gordon over Altern 8 are the ones that spring, excruciatingly, to mind ).
The same songs were usually played in the same order every week but this barely mattered. Towards
the end of the night, Phil would come on the mic, thank us all for turning up then promise a field trip
to another club which never, ever materialised.
Back to Dj Ruddy on what made this all so special : The top nights for me were the K Klass PA night
where we had 1200 in (capacity of 800 ) with 900 locked outside & the first all nighter which a mate
of mine called Sonny from Manchester played a blinding set & where the Insanity remix was dropped
for the first time. Mike E Bloc was doing the Saturdays for us & loved it so much that he even wanted
to call his Elustrious remix of Dance No More the Wigan Pier Remix. But Terry wanted too much
money so that was that. Faz, a long time resident of Norley (now exiled in Skem) recounts : Ill never
forget the night Rozalla did a P.A. A lad called Winny from Newtown had somehow managed to scale
the mirrored wall below where she was singing & she reached over & shook his hand. He turned &
saluted the baying masses triumphantly as if hed touched the robe of Christ. Mind you, he was later
admitted to the infirmary later that night with Ecstasy related complications so that may well have had
some bearing on the incident. A Mr O Osbourne tells a similar tale : I knew Malc quite well & gave
him his first ever ecstasy tablet. It was a pink fantazia, if my memory serves me. Anyway, he took it
about 20 mins before he went on. Hed not been playing long when he complained he was feeling
unwell & started to sweat profusely. After visiting the bogs & washing his hands more times than
Gazza when Sheryl fucked off with the kids, he told my cousin Mark that he was going to have to take
over the set. Mark had never been anywhere near a set of decks but, fuelled by the ring of bravado only
5 grams of speed can provide, he boasted he was up for it & prepared to make his debut. Sadly, this
was not to be as Malc recovered sufficiently. I also remember the night Kev Panda came down &
insisted Malc let him play his own records. Needless to say, unlike my cousin, Kev DID actually make
his debut that night. On a personal note, Ill never forget the night Panorama filmed there. Quite what
Terry was thinking when he agreed to this is anyonnes guess but there you go. When it was screened, a
lad from Pem called Crofty was interviewed & proceeded to tell the nation not only why ecstasy was

his drug of choice but also how often he partook. This tape was produced as evidence in court a
fortnight later by his ex girlfriend with whom he was having a custody battle over his daughter. In the
same interview, Kev who used to run V2 also falls over in the background, spectacularly off his tits.
Once this was over & done with, the fun would really begin. Negotiating THAT bend on Pottery Road
whilst completely off ones tits & dodging the Rent a Wreck Orions that were flying past was
worthy of a front page mention of the Obby. Grinning idiots stood pissed wet through on the car park
with no shirts on & a scant disregard for the elements. Worsley Hallers would be hanging out of
sunroofs. Boy racers were graded by their peers on the number of seats they had to remove to fit in
bassbins & shivering was the order of the day. The more affluent types favoured a ski style salopette &
I remember looking jealously at a lad I knew (Sed) from Billinge sporting an Umbro all in one thermal
touchline suit, the kind worn by substitute footballers. The jealousy didnt last long, however, as Id
had 4 pills & soon loved him more than my own family. After lashings of hot vimto, the talk would be
of beach parties at Ainsdale & when these inevitably failed to materialise, the harsh reality would be
onto the kind of flat in Scholes that you wouldnt normally piss in until the next afternoon, trying to
make sense of it all while some cunt with far too much speed in them would be stood in a corner,
simultaneously playing ear splitting techno whilst urging everyone to come oncome on before
emitting a series of whoops & whistles.
If I were some kind of credible journalist, by now Id be making some kind of social commentary about
what it all meant etc. As I am not, Im merely gonna stick my two pennorth in about the long-term
effects & the legacy of this monumental period. As a person with a lifelong obsession with music, I feel
that this summer both gave birth to & killed the house music scene in Wigan. Hundreds of ordinary
people got involved in a scene theyd never previously dreamt of & had the best times of their
mundane lives. However, far too many of these failed to evolve with the music they were listening to &
remain stuck in this period, influencing a whole new generation of siblings / mates with the notion that
this was what house music was all about. Instead of finding a new track, overstickering the label &
enjoying the one upmanship as everyone else tried to track this tune down, these kids are choosing to
listen to tunes getting on for 14 years old & trying to recreate an era they were too young to enjoy &
can never hope to recreate. Its called old skool & it appears to be spreading. Im convinced that this
whole attitude is primarily the reason why Wigan has never had a quality house night of any size &
will probably never do so. But hey, heres hoping the On a Plate or Like this lads can prove me
wrong..
So what of the main protagonists & people mentioned? The Pier itself chugs along in its own little way
feeding cheddar to the underage and / or (delete as appropriate) clueless, Malc has now upped sticks to
Canada & Ruddy is still playing regularly on the Nu Soul scene. Phil & Dave are both still spotted out
occasionally. Osvaldo spends half the year in England relaxing & the other half in Crete relaxing
even more & Faz got all grown up & responsible. I still see characters like Gorey, Charno, etc & lads
like these are still heavily involved in the more quality house scene. Personally, I went back home to
the Hacienda early into 92 as the lure of Graeme Park, U.S. Garage & beautiful women became too
much to resist ( enjoying loads of the first two & fuck all of the third) then on to hard Times in
Yorkshire where, fact fans, a seriously pilled up Faz became the first ever person on the Hard Times
dance floor at Mirfield in Dewsbury!!!! However, I can genuinely say that summer 91 was probably the
best time Ive ever had in my whole fucking life. The music was fresh, the people were up for it & the
drugs were.just better!!!!!!!!
Father Fintons Pier Top 10
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)

Asha JJ Tribute
Pierre Feroldi Movin Now (aka waited so long)
Brothers in Rhythm Such a good Feeling
SLD Getting Out
Joy & Joyce Babe babe
Creation Give it up
Freaky Dreamer Freaky Dreamer

8)
9)
10)

Underground Posse Straight up House


Lisa Lisa Let the beat hit em (part 2)
Oceanic Insanity (aka dream tripper)

Father Fintons For Fucks sake Malc, why..? Top 5


1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

2 Unltd Get ready for this (changing hands for 40 on orig import at the time)
Hannah & her Sisters Bridge over troubled waters
Shades of Rhythm Sounds of Eden (aka every time I see the girl) big Phils fave tune..
East Side Beat Ride like the wind
Young MC Know How seriously overplayed plus always got the twat from Platt Bridge
who would INSIST on rapping every word, wrongly, down my fuckin lughole.

Credits :
Churned out by Father Finton Stack
Special thanks to : Ian Rudd, Faz, Ozzy Osbourne, & all the dealers who saw us right during those
times. Thanks chaps, you know who you are..