Leckey is best known for his exhibition Industrial Light & Magic, which won the 2008 Turner prize.
Fragments of “found” video footage from British nightclubs are spliced together, repeated and slowed down, while a perfectly edited collage of ambient sounds – snatches of rave tracks, crowd noise, men bellowing across provincial shopping precincts – filters in and out. There’s a loose chronology – northern soul, soul weekenders, casuals, acid house – but the two defining themes of the film are timeless.
Firstly, what deeply strange places nightclubs are; hundreds of strangers, all as high as kites, crammed together in a deliberately disorientating space. And secondly, how much poignancy there is in something ostensibly celebratory; the idea that “the best days of your lives” will be wiped away by a change in fashion. Leckey captures this beautifully in the occasional sound of tolling bells, the endless headlong rush of the video timecodes, the snippets of empty rooms and the suddenly frozen images of young, apprehensive faces.
Jonathan Jones wrote that
“(Leckey) haunts the secret parts of modern culture, where memory and emotion linger”. By doing so, he succeeded where almost everyone else fails – in accurately conveying what it feels like to be inside a nightclub, when being inside a nightclub is the most important thing in your life. Thanks to online video sites, the film is now available again; take 15 minutes to put on the headphones and sink back into Britain’s clubbing past.
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