It's only a short hop, skip and a jump on a train but Southend seems miles away from London. Not touched by the nanosecond cycle of crap-cool-crap of anything in the public eye or in clubs of the capital, the youth of Southend have been left alone to create their own scene. Vibrant and exciting it is too. In fact, it’ so right now you feel it might not be there forever. This is a moment that could pass in a blink of an eye.
Dean Chalkley captures it for posterity. These picture give us insight into these kids’ worlds - the ones they create going out at night, when performing on stage, or playing up to the camera, but also the ones that they might not want the rest of the world to see. Back at home in the teenage bedroom, bored in the garden, or just entrenched in the suburbia that these creatives - in a grand tradition of rebellion - thrive in.
It’s great to see the new looks being tried out, even pioneered. Certain fashions tie them all together - jacket sleeves are slightly too short, make up is big, retro is good. Bands like The Horrors and Neils Children have trademarked a goth-meets-mod dark aesthetic - complete with Robert Smith hair, skintight trousers and fake blood. Girls like the lovely Betty, meanwhile, are in love with the eighties in the way only someone who wasn't there can
These New Puritans do what the band name says - they revive an austere discipline in buttoned-up shirts and neat haircuts. On haircuts, the bowl is back - see the contents of Southend's favourite club, Junk.
Junk has been Southend’s epicentre - for performances from locally-loved bands and as the environment to debut your outfit - since 2000. Shutting up shop this summer, these pictures couldn‚t be more timely. A story so far for a subculture on the brink of something new, they're also a greatest hits of great Junk moments.
There’s some stiff competition for the best-dressed prize. One girl channels a Siouxsie Sioux-esque army influenced look or there's the option of letting your hair speak for you by wearing it over your face, ala Cousin It. Because this is real life, some punters don‚t signal the Southend specifics. In the high street’s stripes, they could be anywhere in the summer of 2006. All were welcome at Junk, as long as they were willing to get down and dirty. In the basement of a hotel, Junk was a place to get messy
to sit on your friend’s lap, to make your fingers bleed from playing the bass to hard or just to let loose. By looking at these pictures, you almost feel like you were in the Junk inner circle, someone who could cry 'I was there.' Almost.
The personal touches also make these pictures special. Anyone can capture a band looking rock 'n'roll, as they want to be seen on a Saturday night. It's snapping them at home bored by the World Cup, fixing their hair to look just like Malcolm McDowell's in Clockwork Orange or the Sainsbury’s bag that carries the guitar leads, that gives the insight. The contrast of the mundanity of daytime and the hedonism of Saturday night is crucial. After all, without fan-postered bedrooms, suburban gardens and picket fences - see glam-tranny Mika outside her semi - where would teenagers be?
Southend’s Underground gives new hope for youth culture cynics. It's not dead, after all. It's just taken a short train ride away. - Lauren Cochrane, Deputy Editor I-D Magazine
16 August 2006 – 03 September 2006
Spitz Gallery, London, UK
20 June 2007 – 22 June 2007
Doris Club via de’ Pandolfini, Florance, Italy
2006, Colour, 6mins
Created as an accompaniment to Dean Chalkley’s Southend’s Underground collection, the film explores Southend~on~Sea in Essex and Dean’s own preparations for the exhibition all set to a soundscape provided by Jack Barnett of These New Puritans, one of the many band that feature in the collection of work, which revolves around the now immortalised Junk Club.
EYES Ciaran O'Shea and Tomas Hein
EARS Jack Barnett
2011, BW & Colour, 10mins
Young Souls is an exciting, up-tempo spin into the world of the cult 'scene' of Northern Soul. Opening to the iconic 'Cigarette Ashes' track, Young Souls
explodes onto the screen taking us under the skin of the Northern Soul scene. It is morning and a vintage car blasts down motorways, charges across rural landscapes and snakes through British suburban streets. Scully, the film's main protagonist drops his friends home after a night of profound meaning.
Young Souls retraces Scully's 'night before' with epic dance scenes and stylish cast, of real Northern Soul devotees.
DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER Dean Chalkley
CINEMATOGRAPHER Benoit Soler
EDITOR James W. Griffiths
FEATURED CAST Sonny “Scully” Evans, Tommo, Claire Digby, Matt Watson, Oliver Abbott and Elenor Emes
14 July 2011
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London, UK
28 October 2011
Nothing in the World but Youth, Turner Contempory, Margate, UK
12 January 2012
London Short Film Festival 2012, London, UK
1, 6 & 8 March 2012
Cinequest Film Festival 2012, San Jose, California, USA
12 May 2012
Southend Film Festival 2012, Essex, UK
27 May 2012
Seattle International Film Festival 2012, Washington, USA
Creative Review’s Photography Annual: Moving Image Category
Southend Film Festival’s Short Film: Music Category
“The film is very, very, very authentic... ...It ‘s absolutely
beautifully filmed, It’s the kind of thing that I’ll come back to and watch again… …so that I can get all of the nuances of it.”
- Ian Dewhurst DJ (Wigan Casino, Cleethorpes Pier)
“It is really a homage.” - Eddie Piller Acid Jazz Records Co-Founder & DJ (The Modcast, BBC Radio 6 Muisic)
“It was beautifully shot. Dean is a genius
photographer.” - Jonny Owens Actor (Shameless, Wedding Belles, Svengali,
"[The] film... ...is seriously good in terms of the cinematography, sound, aesthetics etc., and (perfectly captured in the still photos) the dancing is so damn cool it hurts."- Bryony Quin It's Nice That
“Great Film” - Don Letts Director (The Punk Rock Movie , Dancehall Queen) & DJ (The Roxy, BBC Radio 6 Music)
22 July 2011 - 04 August 2011
Youth Club Gallery, London, UK
19 January 2012 – 29 March 2012
Hotel Pelirocco, Brightion, UK
Issue #17 Religion 125 MAGAZINE