by emma last modified Apr 07, 2015 01:26 PM

Rock Against Racism

by emma last modified Apr 07, 2015 01:26 PM
Rock Against Racism

The Stingrays performing at Rock Against Racism, 1979

Bristol's first Rock Against Racism music concert was held at Trinity in 1978 and featured the Punk band the X-Certs and Reggae bands Misty 'n' Roots and Reality.

Rock and Against Racism became a regular event and formally united Black and White musicians at a time when much of the city was still segregated. Culturally and musically Trinity's two-tone and Ska nights brought Punk and Reggae crowds together.

Despite good intentions there was some degree of mutual suspicion between some Punk and Reggae followers, however Trinity became a focus for resistance to and confrontation with Right wing groups.

Trinity's current ethos, 'A Centre for The People', serves to acknowledge this history and reinforce this message for a new generation.

..that kinda ska stuff that was the cross over in a way – that's what bands like the Specials did they had that good cultural cross over where you had y'know, black culture and white culture...Trinity was a very special venue, Easton, Montpelier, alternative Bristol. It was strong place to be. Margaret Thatcher was in power but we the people are still here.” Chris from the Stingrays, interviewed by Edson Burton, 2009

At the start it didn't really mix...one night at they had some skin head bands from Trinity playing and it all just Skin head band from Gloucester then Madness and the Specials were playing and there were a couple of punk bands and it all turned into a riot.” Taff, gig-goer, interviewed by Edson Burton, 2009

Music & Socialism

Rock Against Racism was one aspect of a broader left wing culture that was drawn to Trinity. In ideologically invidious times those on the left were united in their rejection of Thatcherism.

In keeping with its left wing credentials, the socialist influenced rock group the Redskins played a gig in support of the nationwide miners strike on the 21 December 1984 to a Trinity crowd of 500. As suggested by the title, the Redskins were firmly within the socialist camp, but shared a skinhead aesthetic by then associated with the Far Right.

The miners strike was a bitter crystallization of the battle between a traditional working class union consciousness and unfettered free market capitalism. One party-goer, Bear Hackenbush, interviewed by Edson Burton in 2010, remembered an event when miners marching via Bristol on their way to London, slept overnight in the Centre. He also recalls the time when a ‘Right to Work’ march was held in 1983/84, that was followed by a benefit gig in Trinity. The marchers had come from Cornwall and Wales to London. They had called in at Trinity en-route, and slept in the building overnight, as it was able to accommodate all of them.

Rock Against Racism, 1979

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