Part nine of a series of posts reflecting on almost a decade of DIY culture - focusing this time on non-music related hang outs. For an introduction to this series, click here.
2008: Organise something that doesn’t involve music so we can all hangout and chat without shouting over bands. Maybe you could just make a flier saying to meet somewhere and we could have a picnic? Having a picnic with your mates – cool. Having a picnic and inviting everyone in the scene, even those you don’t know – a way to break down barriers and preconceptions, build community, get to know each other better, break out of our comfort zones, start new projects, let each other know what we’re up to. From talking to older punx, it sounds like this used to happen (thanks Nath).
2017: This post is an edited group discussion inspired by fragment #14. Ben plays bass in Latchstring and books DIY shows as part of the A Public Disservice Announcement collective. Geraldine as involved in booking punk shows as part of the STE collective (and its afterlife). Jordan co-runs Circle House Records, books shows as part of DIY Exeter and plays as Phaedra’s’ Love. Kristianne is a spoken word artist involved in the DIY Southampton zine fest. Enjoy.
Ben: Yeah, I really like this idea. If we’re talking specific about a punk community, loosely described, that community should if it’s really well functioning, in my mind, be getting together to do things outside of just putting shows on, whether they’re just nice socialising things or a lot of punk communities branch off into activist networks. I think holding an event like this would be a really good sign of a very, very healthy community. And just really pleasant. Like more than anything, just super nice [laughs].
Geraldine: It would be great. I think what might have an effect from the older ones of us is that there’s just so much other stuff going on, but yeah in theory, we’d be up for it and be happy to help organise whatever. I haven’t really [been to a previous Southampton punks picnic]. It’s just I think there was more people. I think everyone just saw each other a lot more than they do at the moment so – it just kind of happened because everyone was out anyway and there were fewer responsibilities and what have you and not everyone’s got children but a lot of people got kids now and yeah, people used to be together a lot more anyhow because there were a lot more gigs going on, people involved in groups putting the gigs on so it was just more – I think it was just easier. But if we could do it and get a lot of people out, it’d be brilliant.
Kristianne: We are doing it next week, it’s not a picnic, but a Christmas pizza. I invited people that I guess I know and I’d never say if somebody said to me can someone come along, I’d never say no so there are people coming that I don’t know cos other people said “can I bring this person with me?” But the food thing aside, doing other things, there are small pockets of it happening. Like Libby is amazing at this kind of stuff and we’ve done knitting nights, we have done just helping Libby make stuff nights, which is getting stuff for Libby done but also people come together and sit around. I’ve used that kind of idea enough to help me with DIY [Southampton], to get things ready for it where I said “who wants to come and help with making all the signs that we need to make?” or doing this or doing that. I think the really big thing that is really difficult about this is finding any one date that everyone can do, and like, if you don’t mind putting and doing something and saying anyone can come to this and people can invite whoever they think might be interested, knowing that you might be sat there with one other person. If you don’t mind that then that’s cool and I’ve done that some nights.
Jordan: I’m not against this but I’m very sceptical of it because so many times I’ve seen this kind of thing happen or even really involved with shows like the house shows, it often turns into an excuse for a piss up. A lot of house shows I’ve been to even have just become like a house party where everyone’s drinking and there’s some bands playing in the corner. Everyone’s outside and like, there’s 5 people watching the bands in the living room and it’s kind of weird. There’s a punx picnic that happens every year in [a city in the West country] and people come all the way from Cornwall, Devon, Sumerset, all around really, people have been to it for years and years and everyone goes – and I went last year and it just a load of people in leather jackets drinking cans of Strongbow and not really actually doing anything productive or anything.
J: What I like about certain scenes and certain communities and certain cities is that you have these kinds of friendships all based around an actual place, like a venue. And I guess in Southampton you don’t have that as much. Where I’ve spent the last 3 years in Exeter, no shows in a DIY punk manner or any punk manner really happen outside of the Cavern in Exeter. Once every six months you’ll have some really weird occurrence where there’s a gig going on in a coffee shop upstairs somewhere. But the Cavern is like the basis of it and in the daytime it’s open as a vegan café. And it’s kind of this place that never really closes, it’s always there, you go down and you discuss “shall we put on a show?” or “do you want to make a band?” There’s a big, big long table at the end of the bar and anyone can sit down and chat, there will always be people working there. There’s loads of workshops that go on so you might come in one day and there’s a zine making workshop or learn to use a typewriter for the first time or something, you know. In terms of money, I’m not 100% certain who covers the costs, if someone’s got a typewriter and a load of paper or whatever and they say “do you just want to play around with a typewriter and things?”, it’s as simple as that sometimes. And sometimes it’s a whole new thing with loads of people in there selling zines and things like that, or you know someone’s doing a zine making class and things and the only costs they’ve got to cover is some paper. The Cavern stays open, would be open in the day time as a cafe regardless whether there’s a workshop on or whatever and making some money from people buying tea and coffee and stuff.
Phil: I wonder how DIY Southampton fits into this, what we’re talking about here, cos one of the things I was interested in is this present in other spaces? I was thinking about club nights, because you could pretty much guarantee most of the Southampton punk scene of a certain age would be at the Rhino on a Wednesday, you know, when that was open so it’s almost like we didn’t need to go sit in a park, do you know what I mean? Or when the Alf was there, we knew that you could go to the Alf whether you were into the bands or not, most people would be there. Do you see DIY Southampton as a space where people go hang out and make those connections twice a year?
K: I do, I know they do, I already know they do because that’s what people come back to me saying, people come back and they say “We met one year ago at DIY Southampton whatever number it was and we’re still together today” or “I did my first ever” – Josh Jones did his first ever reading, he came to DIY Southampton 2. I spent a whole load of time helping him make a zine when I wanted to go watch somebody else do something else. Two DIY Southampton’s later he came and preformed and then Jordan’s doing tours with him. I know it works which is why it makes it really difficult to say “That’s it, we’re not doing it anymore”. Cos I don’t feel like it, it’s mine to say that with in some respects and people do come and spend the whole day there. And people of all different ages which always amazes me that people that walk in and then you see them there for 2, 3, 4 hours later still there. And some people come in they watch their friend play and they leave, or they come in, they have a quick look round and they go. It’s that kind of fluid, that space, which is why I guess it’s grown quite a lot.
B: That year that a couple of social workers brought a day care of people with physical and mental impairments down to experience it was one of the nicest things I’ve seen in Southampton – it was wonderful, it was really, really cool.
K: What is nice about it is that without trying, it has become diverse of its own accord. So it would tick everybody’s boxes for any kind of an event and I don’t doubt if we wanted to apply for funding for it we would get it, but that’s not what it is about because then you have to answer to somebody else because that’s their money that goes into it and they want to know what you’re doing with it. It is about that space that Tim provides for free at Planet Sounds just being somewhere lots of people can access, and now we have like the Science Room people come in and [being an] actual part of the event, twice now. First time, first two times they did a table and last time they were actually part of the event, they had a science room there on the Saturday, so even more people who aren’t necessarily into the music or the arts came and we’re part of it. So I know that it’s growing like that, but again, people are like why don’t you do it next month? Cos you wouldn’t get 170 people walk through the doors every month for one thing –
G: When we stopped doing the Hobbit gigs, we were getting what, 30 people out if we were lucky, we used to get like 80, 90. And the amount of time that goes into organising a gig with 8 bands and that and it’s just – and then you can’t book bands from far away if you’re only gunna get 30 people in cos now that, when Rich was single, on his own, it was different, he often lost money on gigs, the STE they lost money. People grow up and get more responsibilities don’t they, so I can’t put on a gig and risk losing £150 because I can’t bring somebody down from the north of the country and not pay them their petrol.