During this time music brought people together through small gatherings at people’s houses, where they’d socialise and play records on the radiogram or ‘gram. Part-furniture, part-entertainment-centre, the ‘gram was an important part of life for West Indians and ‘blue spot’ ‘grams were highly sought-after. Many early after-hours house parties, better known as blues parties, revolved around the ‘gram and, in one sense, it may be regarded as the first ‘sound system’, often doubling up as a bar with a built-in drinks cabinet.
The ‘gram was later replaced with large speaker boxes, often stacked in people’s cellar, front or back room, which provided the deep bass from the early hours until well into the next day.
Many nightclubs refused to hold a blues party so they took place in areas of Huddersfield where black people lived including Deighton, Fartown, Birkby, Thornton Lodge and Dalton. The main blues party sound throughout the mid-1980s and ‘90s was King Broadway held in a basement on Bradford Road.
‘If a blues party started at 2 o’clock it would probably finish around 5 or 6 sometimes, before the last people rolled out. And that’s where the parties started. It was home entertainment for the parents from the Caribbean who wanted to be themselves,’ says Dee Bo General – Armagideon Sound System.