Danny Rampling on acid house past, present and future

House | Sunday 22nd May 2016 | Christina

Following a famous trip to Ibiza and the opening of his club Shoom, Danny Rampling forever changed the country's music and youth culture by popularising acid house. Having DJed for radio stations and parties all over the globe, remaining at the forefront of the dance music scene for over 25 years, he returns to Ibiza this summer for the brand new Dance 88/89 night at Sankeys. We caught up with him to talk acid house past, present and future. 

Hey Danny, how’s it going? Looking forward to the summer?
I feel most of us living through cold winters in European cities relish the arrival of summer. Very much looking forward to the summer of 2016 as I’ll be in Ibiza over the course of the season. Shoom will host an arena at Ministry Of Sound’s 25th Anniversary celebrations on Sunday August 7th in London.

We have to talk about the famous ’87 trip to Ibiza and the birth of Shoom, which has become a watershed moment in UK club history. Can you give us an insight into what the nightlife scene was like before that all happened?
The nightlife scene in London was warehouse parties and the Wag and Raw clubs playing funk, rare groove, hip-hop and disco. House music was being played in some gay clubs by the late DJ Colin Faver and Mark Moore. Pirate radio ruled the airwaves and a small circle of DJs were playing early house tracks on air, and thea clubs closed at 3am in London.

Shoom was only in existence for a few short years but it had such a profound cultural impact, did you have any sense at the time that you were involved in something special?
Most definitely so, we all had an experience in Ibiza at Amnesia in ’87 that made a profound change to the four of us on that trip. Returning to England we knew that we were onto something very special and were greatly inspired by DJ Alfredo and dancing in the open air in Amnesia. We became pioneering core drivers and collectively shaped great change in youth culture and nightlife. Collectively we broke boundaries, and the music and scene that developed created a cultural shift of unity that transcended race, class and sexuality. It was an incredible time that also created much opportunity for so many people who embraced the scene.

What was the highlight of those years?
The great change we collectively brought to youth culture through the music and unity, and becoming a professional DJ and pioneering and shaping the UK acid house rave scene. Everything was so fresh, so new and revolutionary. That time was unique to all who experienced the beginning of the scene and the magic of the era. The second summers of love in 88-89 were amazing times and so many lifelong friendships were born too.

What are your thoughts on the comments made by Bloc’s co-founder George Hull that “young people these days just don’t know how to rave”, that they “are too safe and boring”?
Every generation is different and adopts different styles and behaviours. Let’s look at how homogenised UK culture has become generally with social media, reality TV and smart phones. We are in a time where everything is immediate and attention spans are shorter. I see many kids having a blast at events across the world. Live and let live, and be mindful of the dreadful recession that we have experienced, the lack of employment opportunities for younger people, student grant restrictions and soaring rents along property prices, which has affected society from young to older people. It’s not like the 90’s, this free abandon, and this has affected our club life unfortunately

You’re in Ibiza this summer for Dance 88/89 at Sankeys, what can we expect from the night?
People celebrating acid house culture and coming along to dance in the dark. Everyone who attends there will be strictly there for the love of house music.

Given your history with the scene, do people often expect you to play a classics-heavy set rather than fresh music?
I get more enjoyment, satisfaction and excitement out of playing new music. On any classics event I DJ at, I always meld new music and reworks of classics into a set. I am not a classic house DJ and do not want to be tagged as only playing classics. I play new music continually as I always have and always will. How does a track become a classic without playing and breaking new music? I will be playing a combination of 303 acid house past and present at Sankey’s Ibiza Dance 88/89.

Ibiza has clearly changed a lot over the years, especially with the surge in EDM. What is your take on the way the island has evolved?
Ibiza is forever evolving and there’s a place for everything and everybody who loves the island. Ibiza has returned generally to the upmarket days of the 80’s and services and business has improved dramatically in recent years. Ibiza has a special magic that continues to shine, and influence and inspire people from all over the world. EDM is commercial music that makes big bucks and Ibiza businesses embrace grand profits and full clubs. EDM is like premiere division football, where entry costs have soared to pay huge fees to the small select group of star players. There’s something for everyone in Ibiza and its up to the individual what they want to go and see and enjoy. It will always change and something new is always around the corner which is how things evolve.

With Dance 88/89 this year and Seth Troxler’s Acid Future party last year, the acid house spirit is enjoying quite the resurgence, why is that?
Most definitely so, there’s a whole new wave of acid productions that take the foundations and brings the past sounds up to date with a modern 303 feel. I have an original 303. Great things either with music or fashion come back and has its day again in the spotlight in a modern form. Which is why I’ve decided it’s time Shoom should be properly re-launched as it’s now more relevant than ever with this spirit present, and will be showcasing new young artists that embody this energy, along with those that have pioneered it. The club was always about new talent and music, and I’m glad to be at the helm again helping pave the way for future stars. It’s exciting.

What artists are you feeling right now?
Phazon, Saytek, Paranoid London, Alberto Ruiz, Rework.

What/where are your favourite places in London?
Outside of clubbing: Hyde Park, Whitehall, Primrose Hill, Richmond park, River Thames.

If you could have a swimming pool full of anything, what would it be?
Apart from water, as swimming is my passion too. I’d like a pool filled with the finest Ibiza produced gazpacho. It’s a borderline obsession.

Tell us one song or piece of music that changed your life.
The Night Writers – ‘Let the Music (Use You)’. 1987, Amnesia, DJ Alfredo.

I know you’re actively involved in a lot of charity work as well as music - what project are you most passionate about at the moment?
I recently speed-marched 10 miles with a 35lbs backpack in boots on a military course in 2hrs 22 mins for a great UK children’s charity called Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

How would you change the world?
Not sure if lightning strikes twice, but through music, we continually change the world.

Follow Danny Rampling on Twitter.