Trash: An Oral History

Cast A-Z:

Christopher Kane (fashion designer)

David and Stephen Dewaele (2manydjs/Soulwax)

Erol Alkan (resident DJ, promoter)

James Murphy (DFA/LCD Soundsystem)

Jonjo Jury (resident DJ 2005-2007)

Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)

Liam O’Hare (general manager of The End)

Peaches (artist)

Rory Phillips (resident DJ 1999-2007)

Stacey Tang (City Rockers records)

Tiga (DJ, artist)

Two decades ago the London club scene received an overdue shot in the arm. Falling from favour were prog house DJs in nice jumpers playing long and listless sets in mega clubs. On the rise were punky techno sounds, sartorial peacockery and a surfeit of charisma; a new breed of DJs and artists were suddenly in sync from New York to Berlin, Glasgow to Melbourne. In London Trash, an alternative night on a Monday in the West End, was at the apex. At Trash The Strokes, Grace Jones and Pet Shop Boys would come to party, Peaches would blow minds armed with just a MiniDisc and a sex shop nurse’s outfit and strange bedfellows romped as George Michael’s vocals found themselves topping a Missy Elliott and Timbaland production.

By 2002, the capital was alive with similarly spirited, salacious sounding nights: Return To New York, Nag Nag Nag, The Cock, 21st Century Body Rockers and Electric Stew. But Trash was the Daddy of them all attracting the best-dressed crowd and the most anticipated acts. In 2002 LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture and Scissor Sisters all graced the stage sounding immense on The End’s Thunder Ridge system. At the club’s helm – and its heart – was Erol Alkan who had also been making waves in techno clubs looking like Joey Ramone in a Batman T-shirt. He poured so much passion into the night that he never took a Monday off in ten years other than for his honeymoon. Before doors he’d polish the mirrorball so it shone more brightly than on Saturday night and with his A-team created – and maintained – a safe place for boys to wear makeup and girls to dress up and feel free from lewd looks. It was also only £4 to gain entry to this weekly wonderland.

Tiga: “Trash was about breaking the rules that had been built up. It was at the centre of it. And it was London.”

The warm-up set.

Erol: “Trash started in 1997 when I was 22. I hadn’t promoted a club night before, it was like you were putting on a party to get all your friends together to play music you all liked. Monday had a hole in it and I had the opportunity to take over that night at Plastic People [in Soho]. Because I was in charge I didn’t have to limit what I wanted to play. Alternative clubs had a particular style of playlist and some clubs didn’t want you to veer too far from it. There were a lot of clubs offering the laddish end of things and I wanted a place for the more gentle souls. On a Saturday night you’d get the fey, shy cool kids waiting in the corners for the records to come on they liked but it was overrun by other tribes. ‘Trash’ was a big single by Suede for these outcasts, though it’s also a Roxy Music single and New York Dolls track. So we started off at Plastic People and 80 people came which was OK. When it grew to fill the 250 capacity we moved around the corner to the Annexe that held 380 people. The Flying Dewaele Brothers (Soulwax/2manydjs) first played at the Annexe in 1999. That style of DJing led to what eventually came to fruition in 2002.”

Rory: I moved to London in 1999 and read about Trash and its music policy in Time Out. I’d been DJing at university and it seemed in the same spirit – indie rock, dance music and pop. I used to go on my own.”

Liam: “Being someone who’s been in hospitality all my life Fridays and Saturdays were when you worked and Sunday and Mondays were when you went out to play, so I was a Monday-night clubber. Trash at the Annexe was on my radar and the owner Eric Yu told me he was losing the lease so I went to a few of the nights. A few months before the Annexe closed Erol approached us. I’d wanted to do a night like this for some time. In the late-80s I moved to Camden so was immersed in indie culture as well as dance. Erol and I had both been attending a club in Camden on Tuesdays called Feet First and there was an inkling all this may fuse well. Having been to Trash you couldn’t fail to see what was going on and I wanted to get it.” 

Erol: “I used to go to the Wall Of Sound nights at The End, I used to love seeing Jacques Lu Cont play. It felt so different to the indie clubs I used to go to. When I was told the Annexe was closing for good, I called them up and they put me through to Liam. Liam said he’d been to the night and knew about us. As soon as I walked into the empty club for a meeting it made sense to me. It felt right. I knew we were good for about 400 people but the club was bigger. But Liam suggested putting a curtain across one of the arches, he got it.”

Liam: “Erol is very good about how rooms work and he didn’t like gaps. We had used The End main room before with the curtain pulled across one of the vaults for Fabio’s Swerve on Wednesdays. So it was modular and would feel busy. You could pull the curtain back for when we had a live band on. We were a slick machine, our sound engineer was ex-Astoria and our lighting guy was from a band background. Whatever Erol wanted to do we were ready to do it.”

Erol: “Before The End, I felt like I had researched about every venue in the area. My feeling was that if I couldn’t find somewhere good enough to take the night I’d stop it. No point going sideways. We had created an energy that deserved a bigger, better space. We owed it to our audience." 

Rory: “It was a gamble, a big jump. A lot of indie clubs were in the West End but we didn’t have passing trade, The End was tucked away (on West Central Street).”

David: “We saw each other frequently by 1999, and spoke on the phone every other day, usually about a record we’d found that was exciting. On the day where he walked passed the End - when the move there came about - he rang us.”  

Erol: “It wasn’t a smooth transition. There was a bit of division between people who came over from the Annexe and newcomers to The End.”

Rory: “The word was Erol is playing techno.”

Erol: “It wasn’t techno but some of the electroclash tunes like ‘Silver Screen (Shower Scene)’ by Felix da Housecat.”

Tiga: “There were people like me who came from techno and then people who came from indie rock. I wasn’t even interested in anything guitar related, that died for me in ‘92. It seemed inconceivable to me in the 90s that you could be into anything other than acid and rave. I was an asshole about it, a real snob.”

Rory: “I joined in 1999 with the move to The End. Trash didn’t have a second room until then so Erol asked me to play whatever I wanted for the first few hours, mainly new stuff. The best songs would graduate to the main room. Music moved so much more slowly.  Songs took months to break. Records took on a whole other life in that club. They sounded enormous.”

Kele: “The End was a proper techno club. Rory used to play the more leftfield music and Erol the bangers.”

Liam: “We had the sound system and many of those bands and DJs hadn’t heard themselves on two sound systems that were so on point. Not many indie DJs had played in that room over a hundred times like Erol had by 2002. He knew the sweet spots and watched people dancing, you could see his exploration with his DJing as his ability improved.”

Tiga: “I knew The End was Mr C’s club and it had a famous sound system. To get out of a grimy backroom rock environment was important. It was a proper marriage of club with a real system and all that eclectic music. It was the first time they let the freaks into the techno world. People forget how conservative techno and house had become at that point. Erol and the way he looked, playing those records in that environment was a big statement.”

James: “Trash was a very big club in a very nice venue. London’s greater integration of dance music meant Trash made sense in a big club. I thought as it was called Trash it was going to be in a little dump.”

Jonjo: “I used to go to DTPM at The End and was aware of the club already. I was amazed they had a water fountain so you didn’t have to pay for anything. It felt like we had our own New York club, like our own Tunnel. Were the toilets mixed or was I just always in the girls toilets? I met Amy Winehouse in there.”

Liam: “Erol would polish the mirrorball and our lighting guy Woody loved that Erol noticed when things weren’t on or he’d go to him and say: ‘That thing you pressed when I was playing this… what was it?’ It doesn’t surprise me that Erol does his own lights at some of his gigs now.”  

Bootlegs – or mashups – involved splicing together two very different artists for the duration of a track. In Ghent, Belgium, The Flying Dewaele Brothers – later to be known as 2manydjs – were juxtaposing Dolly Parton with Röyksopp or The Clash with Basement Jaxx. In London, Erol, using Gary Barlow’s teenage stage name Kurtis Rush, had success with ‘George Gets His Freak On’ – his George Michael/Missy Elliott nexus. He also once made Fischerspooner’s ‘Invisible’ and The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ work together as a peak-time dance track. It felt audacious, odd and fresh.

Erol: “I’d made the bootlegs at home to play at Trash. I made a Sugababes and Dr. Dre one for the Annexe. I went into Woolworths and picked up ‘Overloaded’  on the day of release and the CD single had an instrumental as the third track so I looked for an a cappella and found the Dr. Dre one (‘Forget About Dre’). I recorded it directly from the decks to MiniDisc and played it at Trash that night and it went down really well. The next day a girl who worked at Xfm called and enquired after it and asked me to bring it in. It was played at 6pm that night and it ended up being played on the station’s A-List for six weeks. People were ringing in asking after it. It ended up being bootlegged and without me even knowing and selling out at Rough Trade.”

Erol: “Someone at PIAS called me and said there were these guys called Soulwax from Belgium who were also mashing records together. They were going to play live in London and then DJ afterwards as the Flying Dewaele Brothers. They sent me this CD titled ‘Hank The DJ’ which pushed all my buttons. I went to see them at Dingwalls as we had them booked at Trash the following week. David asked me to take over the decks as they had to go and do something backstage, they had eight crates of vinyl – and they were over from Belgium – and I went through the records and it felt like I was going through my own collection. They were soulmates immediately.” 

David: “The reason Erol approached us is we had done a series of radio shows which culminated in the compilation (‘As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2’). He’d heard a bunch of them and had singled out what we called bootlegs. We connected over them and the juxtaposition of putting records together. He’d been doing them as Kurtis Rush. He pressed ours up too and put them out.”

Stephen: “I vividly remember playing at Trash for the first time and it was like an indie wonderland. At some point we played  Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ and all of a sudden Lemmy was standing in front of us.”

David: “He gave us the nod of approval and the devil sign. Maybe he was looking for a place that played rock music.”

Tiga: “I was good friends with David and Stephen through DJ Hell. The bootlegs they did and Erol did were the secret ingredient. It was so fresh at the time. There was a lack of fun happening so that was the perfect antidote, we’re going to throw bits of these massive records you love together to make party records. It goes from non-existent to the best idea in the world in 30 seconds.”

Rory: “The bootlegs had their place. They were very much in the spirit of what Trash was, that blending of styles.”

Tiga: “I remember ‘Seven Nation Army’ came out and six hours later Jori (Hulkkonen) had done a bootleg using the big hook. I played it that night and it was a monster record, the perfect cocktail.”

Jonjo: “The Kraftwerk and Whitney Houston one (Girls On Top’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Numbers’) was such a moment and I was obsessed with getting it.”

Peaches:  “I loved the Girls On Top one. You’d get the mashup and then a pop group would recreate it, what was that band? Sugababes! 2manydjs did my ‘Fuck the Pain Away’ with (Lou Reed’s) ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’.” 

James: “I liked mashups. I remember being told I couldn’t play ‘I Feel Love’, I couldn’t play ‘Planet Rock’ and I couldn’t play ‘Around the World’ because they were all too big, so I used to do a mix with all three of them going at the same time. It was in the air to be throwing all stuff together.”

Kele: “I remember Christina Aguilera mixed with The Strokes. You’d hear Destiny’s Child, Joy Division, Madonna and Aphex Twin. It felt so radical to hear all that music played under the same roof. There was no high or low art, everything was valid.”

Tiga: “Erol and 2manydjs listened to music in a much more even perspective like kids listening to tracks on a radio. Less like some old acid head at 9am who would comment on the snare being fucked or whatever. It’s also drugs. If you had spent the 90s on drugs at great parties you had a different sensitivity. What would cross a record off a list for me would be how it might affect a trip. Whereas 2manydjs were zero drugs so their sensitivity was different. I’m way more likely to have less happening in a track, or mixes go on longer, all things that come from the drug tradition. Different levels of patience.” 

Erol: “I remember ending up at a party and Sara Cox was there and (‘George Gets His Freak On’) got played about 15 times at this party and then she played it on Radio 1 for weeks.  Sara played the second bootleg I did to Missy Elliott (which used the backing track to The Cure’s ‘The Love Cats’) on the show who thought it was ‘hot’.” 

Stacey: “I remember Erol’s Kylie and ‘Blue Monday’ mashup. Kylie in general, I also heard ‘Confide in Me’ a lot at Trash.” 

Liam: “Initially I thought they were great like everyone else and then I started seeing it everywhere and on people’s MySpace, but by that stage Erol had left it. That was another great skill of Erol’s, when everyone else started doing something he had moved on to other things.”  

Stephen Dewaele (Soulwax/2manydjs)

Electroclash became the term for the collection of kindred spirits, mainly from the techno scene, who were revisiting the synth pop of their youth and electronic body music for inspiration. Felix da Housecat, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Tiga and most acts associated with DJ Hell’s International Deejay Gigolo Records were at the forefront.

Tiga: “I fell in love with techno and rave in 1992, so I had a solid ten years where that was all I cared about. But there was a growing boredom around the late-90s. A lot of my older 80s pop dreams started to bubble up through techno. That happened for a lot of people at the same time. It blossomed in 2000 with Gigolo records, Miss Kittin & The Hacker and Fischerspooner. It was a perfect storm.”

James: “It was the end of the 90s and things were coming out of micro-genres where a hi-hat would make something slightly different which was all very boring. It was wonderful to suddenly have an open door policy for sounds.” 

Peaches: “The difference between Berlin and London – and there’s no diss – Berlin does its thing and London makes it a thing. In London now this is a thing, we dress this way, we brand it this way, we’re going to make it a SCENE. It’s an observation.”

Tiga: “There was the European vibe like Gigolo that had come from techno. A colder look. I was part of that. Then you had the typical American Electroclash with a capital E that was the cartoon, hyped version. Then DFA and the rocky side. Then there was the British side which was Erol and Trash.” 

Stephen: “The difference between Tiga and us was there would not be a Motörhead or Undertones record in his collection. Whereas with Erol we had that kinship.”

Erol: “There was a shift when we started hearing records that embodied the spirit of the club that weren’t being made on guitars, they were being made in bedrooms on synths. It felt like the new references were more Human League and the electronic new wave. It felt more exciting than guitar music at that point. The Strokes and The White Stripes felt like they were in a bubble but most guitar music fell flat for me. Even that Felix da Housecat record [‘Silver Screen (Shower Scene)’] – which was the arrow head of it all – had more in common with the DIY electronic scene. It felt like the energy coming from that area of music was perfect for Trash. It caused some friction as some people were expecting us to stick to the playlist we had until that point. But you need to make bold moves. Both myself and Rory embraced that sound and it grew. Music that reflected what the club was about was being made.”

Rory: “What electroclash did for us was the production wasn’t as good as a 90s house record so it made it easier to bridge the gap from a DIY punk record into a four-track electroclash record. It also had that glam element like Bowie and Roxy so a lot of former purists got on board.”

James: “We (DFA) loved electroclash, all the smarty pants in New York wanted there to be a divide; electroclash is dumb, DFA is smart. I was like: ‘You’re out of your mind, kids dressed up is the best.’ Trash had a better merging of those things: indie kids and dressed-up kids.”

David: “Electroclash was the one thing we all connected on.”

Christopher: “The artists were total renegades, mavericks of the music world. So fearless then and now in their approach to music and art.”

Tiga: “My ‘Mixed Emotions’ compilation in 2000 was a mission statement. It was me living my dreams, how I wanted to look and sound. All my teenage fantasies. DJ Hell loved it which prepped me in that 80s style. ‘Sunglasses at Night’ was made on New Year’s Day 2001.”

Erol: “Tiga’s singles worked at Bugged Out! but also were raw enough to work at Trash. Tok Tok Vs Soffy O’s ‘Missy Queen’s Gonna Die’, the whole of the first Peaches album, ‘Frank Sinatra’ by Miss Kittin & The Hacker. Ladytron’s first album – they were doing everything a guitar band would do but on Casio keyboards. ‘How We Do’ by Mount Sims. LCD Soundsystem perfectly embraced all the worlds that were there and tied it all together with a knowing sensibility of all the great music that had come before. It made sense at that moment.”

Kele: “I remember everyone was excited about this aggressive electronic music and in particular ‘Emerge’ (Fischerspooner). Perhaps history hasn’t been so kind to electroclash, looking back it feels a bit like a fad.”

Liam: “I loved Chicks on Speed, Stereo Total and what Peaches was bringing as well. Peaches turned up with a badly recorded MiniDisc, she didn’t think it mattered as she was going out on stage to smash it. Nobody in the crowd noticed the MiniDisc as she brought the energy.”

Peaches: “Erol made fun of me for using a MiniDisc for my backing track: ‘It doesn’t sound good, I can’t get it to go loud enough.’ I had to be louder than everyone else but with a quiet MiniDisc. I had to tame the wild animals while being a wild animal.” 

Erol: “Peaches sent a shock through a lot of people. She was so exciting, she left her mark on everybody that night.”

Peaches: “Erol was amazing and welcoming and super into it. It made the scene for me as I used to walk into places with a bit of a fright because I was on my own and didn’t have a manager and people may throw things at me or grab me. I went into Trash and Erol gave me a Divine 12-inch, ‘You Think You’re a Man’. I remember Lady Miss Kier (from Deee-Lite) being in the audience and that was a big deal for me as she was somebody who had so much style and character and she’d come out of nowhere and made her own path. People saw me as I saw Miss Kier. Pam Hogg was there and we became good friends. Bella Freud and Jarvis Cocker were there too – he was very still so I thought he hated it but that’s just the way he is.”

Erol: “Peaches stayed with me for a couple of days in my Tufnell Park flat. A whole bunch of the club came back to mine and I was talking to this lady from New York and she introduced herself as Lady Miss Kier and I nearly fell off my chair.”

Electroclash brought creative, colourful sartorial styles back to London for the first time since the Blitz club in the early-80s.

Erol: “People were always dressed up even in the early period at Plastic People. People are far happier when they are putting the best version of themselves out there. It gave it a sense of occasion.”

Kele: “Dressing up allows people to go that extra mile. It was a destination for a lot of art and fashion students.”

Christopher: “I was studying fashion at Central Saint Martins when the club was at its peak. I remember interning at designer Russell Sage’s and me and my sister stealing tonnes of Swarovski hotfix crystals and completely covering most of my wardrobe in these crystals. I basically would sparkle and light up on the dancefloor. All my vintage tees started to fall apart from the weight of all the stones. I eventually told Russell about me stealing the stones and it really made him laugh.”

Peaches: “London takes it to the next level. Berlin is like: ‘I’ll shave the side of my head and go out.’ London is like: ‘I’ll shave the side of my head and get an autograph of John Lydon shaved into it too and wear tape on my nipples.’” 

Stacey: “I saw someone with a disco ball on their head. It was DIY with a punk ethos and vintage shop finds. Friends would come over from New York with brightly coloured Converse that cost $15. Now you can just get them from Schuh or Office.”

Peaches: “Erol I never saw dress up, he just relied on the long piece of hair over one eye and a black T-shirt.” 

Erol: “I only had three T-shirts.”

Christopher: “Everyone made the effort. All my peers had their own style and club veterans really made you want to dress up more to impress them.”

Stacey: “Everybody seemed to wear make up at Trash. I would think: ‘God, I should’ve put more on.’”

Peaches: “My fashion evolved from what was happening onstage for me like the cheap pink bathing suit to divert from the fact I was so aggressive. What did I wear when I played live? I wore a nurse’s outfit from a cheap slutty stripper store.”

Despite being held on a Monday, Trash ran a strict door policy that some snubbed customers likened to Studio 54. A club night Turned Away From Trash even sprang up in its wake. But the safe space engendered a warm family spirit with an active message board on their website furthering the community through the week. 

David: “We’d play something like Bugged Out! on the Saturday and then stay for the Monday to go to Trash.” 

Stephen: “This is a Monday night. This is crazy. There was nothing like it.”

Liam: “Sunday and Monday clubs are always special as you have the hospitality workers and students ready to let go, the musicians, loafers and scoundrels. With it being a short night – only running until 3am – it compounded into something amazing.”

Christopher: “It made it even cooler because it was on a school night. It sort of threw the idea of establishment up in the air and really propelled this notion of: ‘I’ll do what I want, when I want’, even if you had work or college the next morning you nearly never missed the night.” 

Kele: “Because it was on a Monday there was always a sense of occasion about it.” 

Stacey: “Monday was for the weekend warriors, only the ravers left.”

James: “It being on a Monday was great. It meant you could play the best show you could play in London and you could play Friday and Saturday someplace else less adventurous.”

Erol: “It was £4 on the door or £5 if a band played. Trash could have toured up and down the country and made a load of money.  But I had no interest in making money out of it. It was never considered despite offers.” 

James: “It wasn’t expensive. An extra pound if there was a band. I loved that it was like going to punk shows. It felt egalitarian everybody paid their £4.”

Liam: “For the crowd it was like Christmas every Monday. We just had to keep it safe and let them go crazy.”

Erol: “We had Phil Maynell on the door collecting emails and speaking to people, greeting them.”

Kele: “Phil The Mod was on the door. I never had any issues but I’d see people turned away. I get why clubs need to have a door policy though. If you want to create a vibe you want people to feel part of that.”

Stephen: “Spiky Phil looked like he was in the Small Faces. He was so London.”

Erol: “When The Face and Sleazenation started writing about us what came with press came curiosity and voyeurs. They were all printing pictures of beautiful girls. I still wanted them to feel safe in there. It wasn’t about judging people on their clothes, Phil would speak to the people in the queue and if it was six guys who were half cut he wouldn’t let them in.”  

Christopher: “I totally understood the door policy to be a way to keep out the wrong crowd, the people who mocked fashion, art and music at the time. It kept out the people who didn’t take it seriously enough. It also reminded me of the strict Studio 54 door policy and that added to the adrenaline of the whole experience.” 

Liam: “I stood on the door a lot. Two or three of the wrong person stood in a corner of a room permeates a bad vibe outwards. I trusted Erol and his team to get it right.”  

Jonjo: “I felt comfortable being with like-minded people as a gay Londoner feeling non judgement and welcomeness. There were no labels. It was clear any arsehole-ism wouldn’t be tolerated. It wasn’t I’m the gay DJ or I’m the gay punter.”

Erol: “It created a safe space for people for all sexualities as long as they were there for the music and togetherness. Girls felt comfortable to dress up and not get hassled, some guys wore make up, everyone was encouraged to express themselves. It felt progressive for an alternative club. We took the brunt of it when people couldn’t get in, even death threats being sent to the venue for my attention. I’d go into meetings with Liam midweek to discuss the shit that was going down, the bad reactions. I got sent a death threat that I ended up turning into the advert for the Trash companion (compilation).”

Jonjo: “I went on to be the door picker before I DJed there. I hated it. Sometimes we were turning away lads wearing the band T-shirts who were into the music and letting in people with the full looks who may not have been there for the music, so I struggled with that.”

Erol: “Nobody can get it right all the time. Sometimes we would have 1,000 amazingly dressed people out front but we also wanted to get the regulars in.”

Stacey: “You had to walk downstairs to enter and there is something more salacious about descending into a basement. There was space for everybody to flex and lots of different crews in there, different magazines, clubs and bands. You’d pick up new friends every week.” 

Liam: “The mixture of people… you’d see the kids, the musicians, the hairdressers, the hospitality workers and then you’d see the promoters from other club nights coming who were watching it all.”

Rory: “I built the website and message board so I was incredibly active on it. There was a level of community online but you would then meet people for real on Monday night.”

Erol: “The website felt revolutionary for us as it connected people who went to the club but also people from around the world who were planning to come and had made friends online. People felt like they had a home even before they’d been to the club. Being able to communicate with like-minded people. People would know so-and-so was coming from Berlin that week and they’d meet up beforehand.”

Rory: “There was a lot of discussion about music, Bowie records, The Rapture and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. People asked me for track IDs on there. You couldn’t post links then but there was Napster so you could find the music.” 

Erol: “I used to put up charts of what I was playing and you’d get instant feedback. People were printing the charts off and taking them to record shops. I think the drummer from Bloc Party posted on there all the time.”

Kele: “I wasn’t part of it but I know my friends were on it who made friends on it. Our drummer was on it and he talked about its community.”

Jonjo: “I didn’t go on the message board. I was too busy getting high and having fun.”

Erol Alkan

Peaches and Yeah Yeah Yeahs played in 2001. LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Electric 6, Scissor Sisters, Suicide all played in 2002.

Liam: “The bands would have to come through 600 people with their instruments to get to the stage but that felt good and exciting.”

Rory: “What I remember about The Strokes coming to the club is I think Muse were at the bar and they were surrounded by girls, then when The Strokes walked in the whole room shifted.”

Stacey: “I met Kings of Leon there one night. You never knew who you’d see down there.”

James: “I remember there was an embrace of indie which we didn’t have in New York, I’d already lived that in the 90s, been in the bands. I first came to Trash with The Rapture to run their sound, mixing front of house. It was definitely a dance system which we always wanted for The Rapture. In New York it was quite shocking to have a band like that in a dance club. There was a reason DFA did well in England first.” 

Peaches: “I remember hearing The Rapture’s ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ at Trash. I was like: ‘What is this?’ I remember loving it so much.” 

Kele: “I saw The Rapture who I was really excited about, so it was a real big deal to see them.”

Jonjo: “The Rapture I was obsessed with. That merging of 4/4 with indie and the clothes, that New York scene. Hearing Peaches for the first time, I was like: ‘What is this noise?’ Seeing a breakthrough Queer act like the Scissor Sisters too.”

Rory: “Suicide asked us if they could play!”

Liam: “Personally seeing Suicide in the club still gives me goose bumps and I got to speak to Alan Vega and Martin Rev who were really sweet. We had the ability and Erol had the imagination. Chilly Gonzales played a piano set with candles everywhere.”

Rory: “When we announced LCD Soundsystem on the message board people were saying: ‘Who is that?’ By the time the show came around there was a queue round the block and we had to move them into the main room. Paul Epworth (who went onto produce Bloc Party and Adele) was doing their sound.”

Erol: “When I played ‘Losing My Edge’ for the first time the whole room was ignited. Tom Vek once told me about the first time I played it and said: ‘That record inspired me to make music and the guy dancing next to me had started to make videos and he went on to make a video for LCD.’ There were so many interconnecting things.”

David: “We were there for LCD as we’d played Return to New York on the Saturday night.”

Erol: “With LCD people were really curious as to how they would work as a band. We only knew ‘Losing My Edge’ and ‘Beat Connection’ by then and the attention was all around James (Murphy) so people weren’t sure if it may be a guy with a mic and a laptop. But they were a five-piece band on stage. Everything was played, nothing was on a backing track. It really inspired a lot of people including artists who came to see them play that night. Looking at where they are now 20 years later that night would be carved into their hearts. I went to see them at Ally Pally a few years ago and James dedicated ‘Losing My Edge’ to me and played it the same way they played it at Trash with this big noisy intro.”

James: “I was very, very, very drunk. I’d asked for Jameson’s and rather than a 750ml size they gave me these two small bottles that were the size of a beer bottle so I drank them both. It was terrifying to play because it was only the second show and we were pretty shit-faced and I think we played about five songs. I hadn’t been a singer in a band since I was 18.”

Jonjo: “Erol remembered I used to pogo and jump really high to watch the bands. Then when Erol met me he could see how small I was.” 

Erol: “Kele used to come and see bands there and then he formed a band and we heard them and they were brilliant so we’d play their records. Then we’d ask them to play live and they were brilliant. It felt like we were influencing and being influenced simultaneously. Those minds and souls were out there and it kept folding in on itself over and over.” 

Tiga: “I met Pet Shop Boys there. I couldn’t believe it. I had almost no experience that any of those people were real or that you could meet them. I’m pretty sure they asked me if I wanted to go to Morocco with them. It sounds like something you’d make up. It’s the best feeling in the world when you feel you’re at the centre of everything and you wouldn’t swap it with anything else as it feels so perfect. You’re playing music you love, everyone’s your age or younger and the Pet Shop Boys are there." 

Erol: “The Pet Shop Boys came down quite often. Neil signed my original copy of ‘West End Girls’. They almost played live at our sixth birthday in 2003. They were going to play in the left arch and it was going to be streamed but something didn’t fall into place logistically. I was walking down Tottenham Court Road one Monday and someone called my name and it was Neil Tennant. He asked if he could come down that night and if I could also put Yoko Ono’s name down. 

Stephen: “Neil Tennant was always very quiet in the corner. Observing the youth culture. That should be a Pet Shop Boys song: ‘Observing the Youth Culture’.” 

Rory: “I remember trying to chat to a very drunk Neil Tennant, I talked at him while he tried to stay upright. Then there was the night Grace Jones came in, I have photographic evidence, when I went back to look at it I noticed Billy Zane is photobombing the shot. I think they had arrived together.” 

Christopher: “I was way too scared to approach famous faces. I saw people like Alexander McQueen, lots of models and I’m sure John Waters one night. To be honest the place was filled with so many gorgeous people that everyone looked like rock stars.”

Twenty years on from its zenith, Erol’s Trash legacy still holds firm. The period in London influenced clubbers to DJ, form bands, become fashion designers, start record labels, it was arguably the most creative and lasting explosion in London’s clubland since acid house.

David: “Erol was one of the first people who showed us you can be successful – in our eyes he was successful at what he was doing – without being an asshole. He cared about us as DJs but he also cared about everyone. Those kids lived for the Monday and he was like an older brother who they looked up to.” 

Liam: “Erol was very driven. If you love something it doesn’t feel like work so he didn’t miss a gig apart from his honeymoon. He would have been unbearable not knowing what was going on in his house.”

Stacey: “We were really lucky which is testament to Erol and the work he put in.” 

Erol: “I used to grade the nights in a journal as to what needed to be changed or done to improve the night. I took every aspect of the club seriously and wanted to do my best.” 

David: “You’ll see the legacy it’s permeated in a big way in popular culture, the kids are big fashion designers or magazine editors or heads of labels. In reading this the danger would be in making it sound just like a club. What made it special was the human aspect, it was a family, a community. One of the parts of that era is also the ascent of Erol as a DJ, producer and remixer.” 

James: “That period felt like you were finding your team in the world.” 

Christopher: “It was such a golden era of so many free spirits in fashion, art and music. London was on fire. There was so much creative chaos and it really inspired my college work. Moving from a small town in Scotland to London and having clubs like Trash, when you tried to tell friends back home about the club, no one believed you. It was mythical.” 

Kele: “It was a real education for me. The band would all go on a Monday, it was an event. It did inform how we appreciate music, still to this day.”

Tiga: “If you could track the influence of Trash it’s got to be one of the biggest ever. The amount of people who came through there and got an idea for something or the artists and what they were exposed to. It has got to be up there with all the legendary clubs.”

James: “It’s part of a long tradition of amazing places you can learn things. You’re 22 and you feel cool that you’re there and it matters. You left your shitty town and you’ve found your tribe.”

Jonjo: “It was a golden era and there have been so many links from it, people who went on to become artists or music industry A&Rs. If I hadn’t had Trash I would’ve been on the gay scene more heavily, but I’ve loved having more mixed friends.” 

Stacey: “It was a home from home. To go somewhere where you could be yourself and feed off the energy. I used to get into trouble on Tuesdays. My boss told Erol not to let me in as I never turned up on time for work.”

Christopher: “I always waited in anticipation for Erol to play and then end his set with ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes. He would extend the beginning of the track, playing the famous beats for at least a couple of minutes before the vocal broke in. Everyone would go mad and totally act out some electro-style ‘Dirty Dancing’ film scene.” 

James: “At the time you just see it as a great place to go to. Now we’re older and we’ve read about all these scenes that were perfect in the past – like all the bands who saw the Sex Pistols or went to the Roxy and went on to form other bands. Trash is one of those things. It was underground, not money concerned, not fame concerned, optimistic not cynical. It was also generous, a big club.” 

Erol: “I wanted it to have that ‘Cheers’-like quality where you walked in and people knew you and it felt like home. Everything was geared around making Monday night as good as it could be. I could see how much time and energy people invested in it. I was lucky and so I wasn’t going to waste it. Make it as brilliant as you can do. I never wanted to be a club promoter but I’m happy with how it turned out. I’d like to think it was a credit to the London club scene.” 

Tiga: “Erol was such an important person for all of us because he was such a music lover and a digger. All of our careers were helped by him. You would send tracks to him first and he’d test them at Trash. It can’t be underestimated what that means to a producer having someone like that in your corner, getting that email back on a Tuesday: ‘Oh Tiga, it absolutely killed!’ You can’t put a value on that. He was like our John Peel.” 

Erol: “It was a moment in time. When Trash finished I thought: ‘That’s it, I can’t do any better than that.’” 



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Don’t Call It A Comeback