It’s difficult to know what to expect from a deaf rave. Do deaf people listen to music? If so, how do they experience it?
Deaf Rave at The Amersham Arms in New Cross was much like any other party of its kind, but with an emphasis on deaf performers and DJs. Those who couldn’t hear the music could feel the bass and the rhythm. There were excited clusters of people, some talking in sign language, others with words. It’s a club night billed as being for ‘hearing and non-hearing music lovers’.
The opening set by DJ Chinaman got things rolling. He brought house tunes with infectious beats you could feel in your heart chakra.
Singer Mikko performed a sort of alternative pop music. His style was flamboyant, edgy and slightly dark. It was like Def Leppard meets Placebo.
Signkid is a deaf rapper / spoken word artist with a difference. He danced and signed over a track with his lyrics being spoken by someone else. He is verbally dextrous, with a unique, subtly detailed flow. He came across as a humble, likeable person.
Mc Geezer, a pioneering deaf MC, took to the stage as well. He sounded like The Streets. There was a pleasing, measured tempo to his voice. His deadpan delivery had the effect of making the emotional parts pack a bigger punch. This is the same trick Lou Reed used.
Geezer and Signkid’s lyrics are frequently about the politics of being deaf. There was none of your stereotypical drugs and violence hip-hop here.
Half of legendary, award winning DJ duo The Wideboys had a slot later on in the night. He showcased the slick, polished abilities of a seasoned pro in his element. There was a garage vibe to this portion of the rave – a subset of electronic music, which has aged well and still gets people moving.
All in all, Deaf Rave was the perfect marriage between devastating dance jams and a buzzing community atmosphere.