The Jungle Diaries: A Junglist on a Mission
Writing a diary (and being serious about it) is like having a life-long conversation with earlier versions of yourself. A very instructive practice.
It has its embarassing moments, yes, but it really is the ultimate way of grasping what your life is about. It forces you to take yourself seriously, even at the most ridiculous moments (and also at the most intense ones, obviously). It reminds you of lots of things that you would otherwise have forgotten. It’s a constant source of surprising insights. And it’s hugely entertaining.
This is a picture of one of my diaries from ’94, the year where I moved from London to Copenhagen. (That’s a flyer from Tribal Dance at The Paradise in Islington on the left page. Oooooh, how I wanted to go back!)
On these particular pages, I was tormented about having left London behind. This lasts for several books after this one.
I had plunged head first into the London jungle scene with such burning teenage enthusiasm! – oh, me, the discoverer of new worlds! – it was all so terribly exciting! I wanted the entire world to know about this!
And there I was, in Copenhagen, where no one had the faintest idea what I was talking about. A junglist, all alone.
The Jungle Diaries
But I was a junglist on a mission. At this point, I am nine months into my jungle adventure. This is what I wrote in my diary in August 1994. And yes, there are some truly cringeworthy sentences in there. But it is also sweet and honest. Do you recognize this, techno teenagers and fellow newborn ravers of the 90s?
“Oh, how can I explain this. Jungle is very fast, hectic, beautiful, gripping. It crashes over you like a wave and carries you away. The bass is so deep, you feel it more than hear it. It grabs you by the spine. It’s the rolling, metallic, wild, deep, riveting, evil, beautiful, intense sound of the drum and the bass.
THOUSANDS of young people – and more and more, still! – are moving into this space now. When you have started dancing to this, you don’t stop. It’s hypnotizing and fantastic. It’s important and wonderful. And it’s new. NEW!
I just instantly felt convinced that this – this sound, this condition, this feeling – is one of the best and most important things to happen in the 90s. And while I was still in London, and while my own enthusiasm and the understanding of it all grew, I watched the jungle techno grow and expand, too, just like expected. Into The Astoria and the Ministry of Sound and even places like The Equionox and the Hippodrome. Into articles in The Face and i-D. And out into the sound of London, from the unstoppable hizzing sound of the pirate stations, taking over the airwaves. It is happening NOW, and I was there. This sound is the FUTURE!
I am certain that one of the reasons why it’s so gripping and fantastic is that it reaches deep into something inside of us that has been ignored or has disappeared in the world today. Something tribal, something basic. The rhythm and sound is trance-like, it touches the heartbeats and the dreams. It’s a new culture. You become part of it and you always will be.
And now I feel so alone. I am just DYING to fly straight back to London and the rhythms and the lights and the friendships. I am dancing by myself in the living room. Jungle HAS TO spread to the entire world from London. And I will help it do so! I have to!”
Clear mission statement from my junglist self, early version! 🙂
People living in Copenhagen, especially the ones who remember Street Dance Records, will probably find these next diary entries pretty entertaining:
Late September ’94:
“I have just discovered that they actually DO have a few jungle vinyls in Street Dance Records. All hope is not lost, then”.
“I have asked the guys in Street Dance Records about their opinion on the matter. They think it won’t catch on here because it’s too “ragga” (their word) for the techno heads and too “techno” for the raggas. Of course I tried to explain to them that it’s not really like that at ALL. But you have to have been in London to understand, I guess”.
But then, fortunately, this happened:
And this is what I wrote about THAT:
Very late October, ’94
“OH! MY! GOSH! Friday afternoon after uni I walked into Street Dance Records to ask how much the tickets for the Prodigy concert were. As always I skimmed through the techno flyers in there (you never know) and KAPOOOW!! I found this tiny little unimpressive piece of paper saying “Jungle Fever II”. For a second I was like “nooo, it can’t be”. I was getting so used to that no-hope attitude… and then SUDDENLY! Oh JOY! Oh thank you, somebody! THANK YOU DJ NIS whoever you are!”
Maximum LOL. Moments caught in time. Pin those butterflies.
More oldskool stuff
If this has given you the oldskool feels, you can listen to some proper way-back-when sounds on my 7 all time favourite jungle tracks list <–right here.
For some very oldskool photos from one of the later Jungle Fever parties, check the Super rare photos: Blasts from the Past post.