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Derek Ridgers
At the Hippodrome, Leicester Square 1987Derek Ridgers (@derekridgers)

Derek Ridgers is sharing archive club photos to get us through quarantine

‘My thread so far has been dancing, touching, canoodling, kissing, and larking about’

“Since we can’t go out clubbing right now, I’m going to comb through my archive and find images from the days when we could…”

Seven days ago, subculture photographer Derek Ridgers posted that caption on his Instagram, followed by a series of images of Brits crowding on dancefloors; in each other’s arms, dancing, kissing, laughing.

It’s week three of the UK government’s imposed lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis which has turned social lives into social distancing and swapped free-spirited nights in pubs and clubs for Zoom calls in a cramped kitchen.

From Soho and Covent Garden to Hammersmith, Camden, and Brixton, Ridgers’ camera captured moments in cultural history that feel not just years, but worlds, away from our current situation. 

For more than four decades, he has photographed everywhere and everyone – from house parties and club nights to the world’s biggest superstars, such as Björk, Kylie Minogue, Marilyn Manson, and more.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to show some images from times when people were still able to go out and enjoy themselves… as I’m sure we will all be able to do again soon,” replies Ridgers over email when asked why he’s digging even deeper into his archives. “My thread so far has been dancing, touching, canoodling, kissing, and larking about. Although I do plan to switch it around to show other forms of public enjoyment soon too.”

Other than sharing his incredible archive, Ridgers says he’s been busier than ever. “I get up every day at 730 am and start scanning old negatives and transparencies and often don’t finish until gone midnight.”

Follow Derek Ridgers on Instagram