Considered the seminal, ground-breaking era-defining EP music video of the Acid-House generation, Flowered Up’s ‘Weekender’ recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and Glasgow Film Festival is showcasing I Am Weekender, an essential musical documentary, reflecting on the continuing importance of the iconic ‘Weekender’ music video, and its significance in the expansion and acceptance of acid-house and modern house music, and how it birthed a new genre of TV and film.
At the end of 2020, in the middle of the worldwide lockdown, filmmakers Tabitha Denholm and Adam Dunlop carried out a series of Zoom video interviews with the people involved at the heart of the scene, a mixture of those interviews and original Flowered Up footage bloomed into the captivating I Am Weekender.
Talking heads featured in the documentary include cultural icons such as Irvine Welsh, Bobby Gillespie, Lynne Ramsay, Annie Nightingale and countless other luminaries from the era. As someone too young to have experienced the acid house movement, but heavily influenced by club culture from 2010 onwards, there’s always been a curious fascination with what could be considered the Big Bang of UK dance, and the expansion of dance music into popular culture.
Directed and edited by Chloé Raunet, I Am Weekender offers a rare glimpse into what was effectively the birth of modern club culture and the people who existed within it. Rather than stigmatize or vilify the characters in the original music video, they are simply presented as the average person, escaping the dull existence of their weekday job through the vessel of music and social bonding.
‘Weekender’ was arguably the first time artists and acts living during the anti-ecstasy, anti-rave media campaigns – which resulted in the 1994 Criminal Justice Act – had been represented on TV as fallible humans instead of being shamed in the tabloid media as drug-taking Devils.
It’s hard to believe, but at the time of release, the media worked itself into such a frenzy, the music video was slapped with an 18 certificate and banned from being shown on both the BBC and ITV. Ludicrous when you think about what kids nowadays can access within the touch of three buttons via Google, TikTok or YouTube.
It was also the beginning of the rebellion in the UK, mass protest, Conservative sickness, and suddenly the belief that through music, the youth could escape the class system enforced upon them. Through music, an entire generation was free.
The documentary reveals the almost guerrilla-style filmmaking techniques of early dance music videos. It really helps you understand that all involved were pioneers, who unbeknownst at the time helped build the platform that evolved into the multi-billion pound dance music industry.
Tragically, Flowered Up members brothers Liam and Joe Maher both died from drug overdoses, in what seems almost prophesied throughout the Weekender narrative, the weekend highs are always followed by the Sunday and Monday blues.
The longer you submerge yourself in all aspects of club culture, positive and negative, the harder the black hole is to escape. Flowered Up, in 1994, battling issues related to drugs, split before they could ever really fill their potential.
‘Without Weekender there would be no Trainspotting’ says Danny Boyle. And without Weekender there would be no Kevin and Perry Go Large, Human Traffic, Skins, Euphoria, or any film or show that promotes contemporary youth, rebelling, reflecting and rejoicing. ‘Weekender’ was the catalyst for an entire generation of misfits.
The documentary and this article are dedicated to Weekender lead actor Lee Whitlock, who recently passed away.
I Am Weekender is showing on 11th and 12th March as part of Glasgow Film Festival.