Popular Music History, Vol 12, No 1 (2019)

They preferred to sit on the floor: Rock music in South Wales at a time of industrial change

Mike Jones
Issued Date: 24 Jan 2020


This article asserts that the swinging sixties was not a phenomenon of London only, buta social, political, economic and cultural force that impacted all parts of the UK, includingSouth Wales. This account focuses on the rise and demise of a long forgotten short-livedmusic venue in Ebbw Vale called the Drifters Escape (1969-1970). This small-scale councilownedrock venue can be seen to capture the zeitgeist of the times, representing not only achanging youth culture's relationship with the establishment, but also a developing musicindustry, which was beginning to differentiate pop from rock and moving towards albumdominated record sales. Interestingly, the Drifters Escape was simultaneously regarded bycouncil authorities as both an opportunity (to build upon the financial benefits an independentrock venue could precipitate) and a threat (as its popularity was seen to threaten traditionalnotions of social order), a 'clash of cultures' that was not only experienced at a locallevel, but also more globally in education, the music press and across society, as 'the establishment'attempted to come to terms with changes in the tastes of youth culture. Afterreviewing the history of the venue, this account, which is investigated via the lens of localcouncil records, press and stakeholder interviews, proceeds to provide a cogent explanationof not only how, but why certain members of the Ebbw Vale establishment viewed rockmusic as a 'problematic' trend at the time.

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DOI: 10.1558/pomh.39557


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