The Rise and Fall (and Rebirth) of the U.K.'s Daytime Dance Parties

In the 1980s and 1990s, South Asians created a community around daytime raves in the U.K. Now, a new generation is trying to reignite that same magic.

Dhruva Balram

September 13, 2021

The Rise and Fall (and Rebirth) of the U.K.'s Daytime Dance Parties
Yung Singh presents Daytimers at Boiler Room London (YouTube)

In December 1985, 19-year-old Moey Hassan, a British Kashmiri man, was driving his taxi in Bradford in northern England when his passenger offered him a cassette instead of the £5 fare, promising to pay him later. Reluctantly, Hassan accepted. When he popped the cassette into his car player, he experienced the four-to-the-floor, ribcage-rattling, joyous sounds of Chicago house for the very first time. 

The man who had given him the tape was a local DJ who started bringing Hassan even more cassettes and giving him DJ lessons. Hassan was hooked and wanted to take his DJ lessons for a spin in clubs. But British South Asian parents typically didn’t allow their children to leave their homes at night for parties. So Hassan embraced the day, helping to organize 300 South Asian kids who, like him, were also looking for a place to dance and share music. They hired out the local Queen’s Hall in Bradford on Wednesday afternoons from noon to 4 p.m., and a new underground scene began to bloom. They would affectionately call these parties “Daytimers.” 

This Daytimers movement soon evolved into a larger cultural scene known as the Asian Underground, which spawned artists such as DJ Rekha, Riz Ahmed, DJ Ritu, Nitin Sawhney, Bobby Friction, NERM, Talvin Singh, and dozens more. But, just as soon as the fame came, it dissipated. In recent years, though 20 years apart, a second wave of Daytimers is trying to make its mark while learning from past mistakes.