A look back at the 90s rave music movement in Bradford

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“You would tell your parents that you stay late at school. Then you step out in your uniform, hop on a bus, pay £10, rave and be home for 6pm.

In the 80s and 90s, Bradford was the guardian of a secret musical movement hidden away from the busy streets and shoppers.

Known as daytimers, the Bhangra-inspired music scene has become an escape for Asian DJs and ravers from usually empty venues during the day.

Although originally from London, Bradford eventually became the cultural mecca of daytime raves.

These daytime raves were captured by photographer Tim Smith at the height of the musical phenomenon, now refocused ahead of Bradford City of Culture’s bid.

“As a photographer, I have always used my camera as a passport to access the lives of the people I care about,” recalls the photographer.

“When I heard about Daytimers, it really intrigued me. It was quite surreal to go from a bright street full of shoppers to a world of dancing in the dark.”

Mick Chandsoor, Head of Partnerships at Bradford 2025 and DJ, remembers Bradford’s first daytime rave vividly.

The DJ told the T&A: “I didn’t really have an affiliation with my own culture and really my own kind of music until I got to college. When I got to college, I found a lot more people that I could relate to. At that time, there was also an influence of bhangra music.

“The first gig that ever happened was at Queens Hall in Bradford in 1989 and we didn’t expect to see what we saw. It was manic.

Mick Chandsoor, Head of Partnerships at Bradford 2025 and DJ, pictured.

“I thought there was something here, there was something we could build on, so that started my career. We started bringing in people from Huddersfield, from Wakefield, as more and more young Asians were starting to find out where we were doing these daytimers.

“There was this element of people who didn’t like what we were doing. There were a lot of fingers pointed at some of the daytimers at the time. But we were the foundation of Leeds, Huddersfield, starting their daytimers.

“Bradford has always been a pioneer in so many different things and people don’t realize it. The Mela [a huge festival celebrating South Asian culture], the Bhangra industry, even to some extent Northern Soul, we had a huge heavy metal community back then; Sometimes we don’t celebrate the fact that Bradford was a pioneer when it came to the music scene.

“There were so many places underground you could go back then.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ravers at one of Bradford's daytimers, full credit to Tim Smith.Ravers to one of Bradford’s daytimers, all credit goes to Tim Smith.

London’s Migration Museum is set to feature Bradford’s daytimers as part of its new exhibition, Taking Care of Business: Migrant Entrepreneurs and the Making of Britain.

The exhibition explores how generations of migrant entrepreneurs have shaped many aspects of our lives.

Tim spoke to former daytime ravers, DJs and organizers about their memories.

“There was a huge market for college kids who wanted to experience the nightlife but in the middle of the afternoon,” former daytime organizer Moey Hassan told Tim.

A daytimer said: “It was people like Alaap, like Heera, who were like the Rolling Stones to us. They were huge to us.”

Another added: ‘You would tell your parents you were staying late at school. Then you go out in your uniform, hop on a bus, pay £10, have a rave and come home for 6pm.’

“The scene died down in the mid-90s because we had become more accepted at the time. We could be more visible. We had to deal with protests from the National Front and disapproval from older generations, but eventually we got there and we came out on top.

– Rani Kaur, aka DJ Radical Sista, to photographer Tim Smith.

Aditi Anand, artistic director of the museum, said: “Enterprising promoters rented empty places during the day and filled them with teenagers who could socialize and dance to their favorite music, away from the prying eyes of parents, uncles and aunts. .

“They helped define a whole new scene, sound and identity for young British Asians, at a time when Asian promoters generally didn’t have late-night club slots and Asian DJs and musicians struggled. to be taken seriously.

“It ended up helping to redefine traditional music and nightlife culture across Britain – and around the world too.”

Taking Care of Business: Migrant Entrepreneurs and the Making of Britain is at the Migration Museum in Lewisham until March 2023.

Have you attended Bradford’s daytime raves? Share your memories via [email protected]

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