So you’ve been down to the Museum of Club Culture haven’t you what’s it like?
Oh it’s really cool. Best night to go down is the opening night of a show, you just never know who you might bump into, the atmosphere is engaging and the hosts are very welcoming.
So what kind of shows do they have?
All sorts. Photography exhibitions, short film screenings, animations, visiting artists’ retrospectives and sometimes these creative types do talks about their work. The current one is a photography one Derek Ridgers Endless Night.
Endless Night? What is that about?
It is a kind of a peek behind the doors of some of London’s more extreme night clubs and some of the counter–culture characters inside.
Ooh tell me more.
The white wash walls are hung with black and white prints featuring club goers from four different decades, I think the black and white imagery lent a certain austere quality, made the subjects seem more alienated somehow. Club names such as Torture Gardens, Club Fantastic, Rubber Ball and Skin Two identify the location of each photo. Some of the pictures are way out there, with punks from the seventies big badges in overcoats sharing a wall with nineties cyber-fashions goth girls and all kinds of alternative and subversive attire. There was one picture with a girl who had decided that a standard rectangular door handle made the perfect neck chain adornment. Another with a strong Germanic theme with Air Crew hat and swastika covered nipples demanded further investigation.
Bizarre costumes. Fishnets used as headgear. Piercings and body adornment galore, tattoos marking every different skin tone and body shape; a celebration of counter-culture style from as diverse a community as you can imagine.
You met the photographer didn’t you what was he like?
I was surprised actually from the flyer image I was expecting someone who was equally as extreme and wild as the images in the show…And? Derek Ridgers is a ponytailed shirt an’ leather jacket sort of guy, ordinary looking, but thinking about it artists don’t have to resemble their work, fashion designers sometimes look at odds to their catwalk creations don’t they. I got to talk with Derek about the show, he told me Endless Night was simply about ‘Recording what the different people were wearing’ throughout his club photography years.
‘I’m not trying to say any one particular thing with this show. I hope the people [in the pictures] speak for themselves. I like the inventive amateurism of the people in the clubs, if they turned up in a hired outfit then I wouldn’t be interested. There was a nurse who turned up once in an outfit made completely of rubber gloves. Aside from always looking for people with that extra spark of personality there are no hard and fast rules. I hang around people watching for 95% of the night, hanging out in corridors observing the people in the club. I might only take twelve shots in one night. Each shot is done with flash with me giving the subject as little direction as possible. They pose but I don’t tell them what they should do.’
Do you have a favourite era? Whether because of the music, the attitudes or the outfits.
‘I think my favourite era was the mid 90s and the rave generation, the era of super clubs, nineties non pc and sheer hedonism. I’ve been doing this for thirty five years but recently the compulsion to go to fetish clubs and capture the nightlife there-in drifted away.’
Hey is this Endless Night show still on?
Yes! Endless Night by Derek Ridgers (check out his star-studded blog) runs until the end of May. Open weekends 11am – 5pm.