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Terry Francis On 20 Years Of Wiggle

Fabric resident and Wiggle founder Terry Francis talks to us about his legendary night Wiggle, still going strong over three decades.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 26th Aug 2014

When Terry Francis and Nathan Coles evaded the police and threw their first party in a lock up in South London, they'd have had no idea they'd be talking about their night 20 years later, and doing a celebratory tour off the back of it.

Two decades later though and that's exactly what has come about. We caught up with  Francis to discuss the defining history of Wiggle, and how it has had to adapt to a new era...

Tell us about the crowd at Wiggle. Originally, from what communities/cliques was it drawing from?
It was a friends of friends thing really. We posted out some flyers from a mailing list we'd built up, sold tickets from Swag and a few other specialised record shops. There was no posters so you had to know about it through someone who went. There was a real good mixture of people from all sorts of backgrounds.
How difficult was it to find venues in the early days? You were doing illegal warehouse parties in the beginning weren't you?

We put on parties in all sorts of places. The venue got pulled at our first party - we had to find a new place in about 4 hours and ended up driving loads of cars out of a big lock up and sticking a system in there... it was great but phew! A rough start.

What scrapes have you got in down the years? Have any parties been shut down by the authorities etc?

We've never had to stop a party. We've had a few scrapes with the law but silver-tongued Nathan [Coles] would talk 'em round... "we're not charging, the drinks are free" - that sort of stuff.

Other than you + Nathan + Eddie, who are the most famous Wiggle characters that are there almost every night, and have been there from the beginning? Every night has its luminaries!

Kaz is our most famous character - everyone knows her or have heard her screams!

What would you say was the golden era for you guys at Wiggle?

Now of course!

If you were to have started Wiggle in 2014, do you think it would have been easier or harder to make it work in the current marketplace?

I'm not sure - it's difficult to say really. You've got social networking now I guess... some things are easier, some are harder or just different.

How would you define the sound of Wiggle?

Bass-driven, quirky acid house (hear some of that from Francis himself below).

What song would you say is the ultimate Wiggle anthem?

I don't really want to pick one track - you can't really do that.

A friend of ours who is a big fan of you and the Wiggle movement used the phrase "Croydon Tech House" when describing what you guys were up to back in the day. Did you actually create your own genre?

There were a few people playing that sort of sound at the time - we looked towards the American sound more. Tech House was just an easier way to describe the sound you were after and the mags loved it.

Is it fair to say that there was quite a big scene in that bit of South London back then? Swag Records was based there, for example. Was there other stuff going on? And is the scene as busy now?

Swag was a massive part of what was happening, and yeah there were a few main parties going on. Heart and Soul, Whoop Whoop, The End... they where playing a bit of a heavier sound at first though... lots of one offs. There was quite a lot.

How do you keep something that is 20 years old fresh? It must be difficult to innovate with something that is so tried and tested.

You don't stay the same; just keep on moving and playing new sounds.

When you won the "Best New DJ" award at Muzik Magazine, did that get you more DJ bookings?
For sure! My name got out there and I started playing abroad more.

Do you think it is harder for young DJs to breakthrough these days because there are not so many influential entities like Muzik Magazine that can champion talent?

I think its probably the same... just do your own thing with passion and drive.

Can you picture Wiggle going on for another 20 years?

Maybe if we did afternoon tea parties!