Urban75

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Urban75 (also sometimes referred to as u75 or urban) is a website and messageboard based in Brixton, England. It was founded in 1995 and includes various e-zine content, as well as bulletin boards. The site was founded and is currently run by Mike Slocombe.

History[edit]

Urban75 initially originated from a football comic that started in 1991. Its editor claims that "the first issue sold out in three hours and at one point became the fastest-selling small press comic in the UK.".[1][not in citation given]

From here, a Football Fans Against The Criminal Justice Act campaign started in 1994. The campaign received large amounts of exposure in the media, and in May 1995 a helper on the campaign from Brighton put together the first version of the Urban75 site, using a modem donated by The Levellers.[2]

As the site expanded into areas other than football and protest, it grew in popularity and was moved to a different, bigger server (becoming part of The Head-Space Project until it moved to its own domain in 1998). Early publicity was generated by Shockwave games in which celebrities could be virtually "slapped" or "punched".[3]

Urban75 entered the national news when Brixton's police chief Brian Paddick posted on the bulletin boards in order to discuss issues with Brixton's internet users while he was conducting a cannabis tolerance experiment. However, when the tabloid press discovered Paddick's posting on the site, a scandal was born.[4] In particular, the press highlighted one post on the boards, where Paddick supposedly said "The concept of anarchy has always appealed to me".[5] Paddick subsequently met with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, and accepted criticism of his remarks.[5] No disciplinary action was taken[5] and Paddick remained in his post until his retirement in 2007.[6]

Site content[edit]

The 'Action' section of the site contains an events diary, information, articles, reports and photos from various protests and marches.

Urban75 features around 3,500 original photographs, mostly taken by the site's owner. There are galleries of Brixton, London, New York, Chicago, Brighton, and Wales, as well as various 360° panoramas and photography tutorials.

There is a drugs information section of the site. There is information on most well-known drugs available. The site has stated its aim is to give honest information about drug effects, so people can make their own informed decision.

There is a series of links to the bulletin board on drugs, although this requires registration.

The site features dozens of 'useless' games, made by various web designers. The games section revels in the fact that many games are pointless and have no meaning (such as 'The DOT-CLICKING game' and 'The Curious Thingy!'). The most popular games are:

  • Mr Insult - a series of games based on a character who swears frequently
  • The Cossack - games with a mysterious Soviet character
  • Punch a Celeb - a section where images of nominated celebrities are clicked on and are, supposedly, punched.
  • Slap a Spice Girl - a hugely popular game that was available at the height of the Spice Girls fame.

Despite being the website's popular feature, the Slap a Spice Girl game has since been removed for unknown reasons.[7]

Football remains a solid part of the site, with articles and features on recent cup competitions as well information as on the Criminal Justice Act and original strips from the Bluebird Jones comic.

The boards[edit]

The bulletin boards have grown into a popular community, with over 40,000 registered members. At present, there are around a quarter of a million page impressions each day,[8] with around 5-6,000 new posts daily. There are currently 26 sub forums covering a range of topics.

The forums are divided into "General discussion", "Community forums", "Politics, protest and current affairs", "Travel & places" and "Art, tech & science", in addition to an archive section.

Offline Club[edit]

The first Offline club night was held on 19 February 2004, at the Brixton Ritzy cinema, and featured DJs only. The line-up included Dubversion of People's Republic Of Disco, DJ Hoax of Urbanites and Hedge Party infamy, Ian of How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, and Blagsta.

Organised by the site's editor, Offline showcases a wide range of DJs, bands, poets, videos and artists. On 30 September 2004, the club expanded to the Dogstar club in Brixton, and has been hosted at other venues in Brixton, Crystal Palace, central London and occasionally New York.

Its growing popularity forced a move to the larger Brixton Jamm club in 2006 before transferring back to the Dogstar on April 9, 2009, with the club now occupying three rooms and two floors in the central Brixton venue.

In line with the club's eclectic tastes, the Dogstar relaunch party featured a large bill including samba drummers, go-go girls, punk rock bands, poets and a hip hop vocal performance.

A second, regular live music night takes place in the Prince Albert bar on Coldharbour Lane, London SW9.

Offline has put on well known acts such as Mercury Prize nominees The Portico Quartet, author Howard Marks, comedians Rob Newman, Stewart Lee, Josie Long, Robin Ince, Richard Herring and new wave legend Tom Robinson, with all acts being paid two pints of beer.

Described as being "Like someone's friendly house party, opened up for the general public....Entertaining, friendly, and free" The Londonist, the Offline club nights are always free.

Radio[edit]

On 1 May 2005 a group of posters made a pilot radio show for the website, available to download as an mp3. The three pilots that followed including an interview with the manager of the site, some originally recorded music contributed by members, documentaries, and live recordings from the Offline club night. There is now a mainly music based radio channel which is updated as and when new shows are recorded.

Press[edit]

Posters can find themselves quoted in national papers or other websites. An example is when Rachel North, a survivor of the London tube bombings, posted an account on the boards of her experience, which became a blog on the BBC website.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]