There is a growing underground subculture happening for techno and dance music in Northern Ireland. Ok, it may not boast to be the next Berlin, but there not many other places that continues to have to deal with the unique challenges that Belfast has to deal with. Dancing on Narrow Ground gives an insight into what the rave scene had in the late 90s, as a form of respite from the conflicts and divides from the Troubles. Over 20 years on, despite continuing obstacles and turbulence from the past still tainting the city how has the culture continued to survive, and now, thrive?

More than anything, I still think its a form of escapism from the politico-religious tensions and divides that’s are found in bar’s in ‘either/or’ territories. There is a synonymous feeling of inclusiveness, unity and safety, in the middle of the mosh pit on the dancefloor, with everyone moving in unison to the same beat.  Divides that are so seemingly ingrained into the people of Northern Irelands culture and identify are welcomingly left behind at the door. Creating a kind of utopia. There is also a strong community spirt and support system in place behind local aspiring and budding D’Js as well as the bigger names . There is  very much a we’ll-help-you-to-help-yourself culture, with a lot of young people religiously attending these nights to support new fresh artists coming into the scene. With more young people attending these nights, it has seen the growth of a sub culture and in venues hosting these music nights, with Belfast hosting the AVA festival  for a second year running in the infamous Titantic docks and very recently in the old derelict  Belfast Telegraph building. With these industrial sites playing accent to the music, the scene is a little more gritty and rough around the edges. There is an up-tempo hardy side to the music, with a real pulverising sound and feeling of authenticity. The only thing really holding these nights back are fuddy duddy retricted  lisencing issues that still exist in Northern Ireland, with revellars nights being cut short with clubs being forced to shut at 1am. However, the party goers get creative and work with what they have, creating their own illegal raves, and house parties but it forces what should be an open, thriving culture underground. However, despite constraints and faded scars, the ‘Techno Heads’ of Belfast are making their own unique vibe.


Yasmine Robinson