Ewen Spencer. UKG

Ewen Spencer first engaged with the culture of UK Garage (UKG) music and clubs in 1998.The first events were, unusually, staged on a Sunday, as Fridays and Saturdays were the reserve of popular nights and the more mainstream dance music of that time. The early UKG club night Twice as Nice was unusual in many ways, but Spencer noticed that people dressed up for the evening, drank Champagne and openly smoked marijuana. These nights were also unusual as many couples danced together, but men also danced with men. Spencer noticed the unusual dress codes of the clubbers too, with many dressed “as if they were on their way to a Baptist wedding in Hackney”, whilst others wore high-end Italian fashion labels that were clearly not intended for people of their social or financial standing. Spencer noted that “though these clothes were not meant for these people, they could not have been worn better”. As the musical direction of UKG was refined, it became a more popular youth movement, until its identity as an underground, working class youth movement in East London was lost to commerce. Spencer’s images of this time provide a unique record of the era and a potent description of spontaneous dissent through dance culture and music.


Ewen Spencer was born in 1971 in the UK. He is a British photographer and a documentary filmmaker based in Brighton. At the end of the 90s he joined “Sleazenation”, in 2001–2005 he worked as a photographer of an American rock band, The White Stripes. In 2010 he self-published Three’s a Crowd, documenting the early stages of the band’s rise to popularity. He self-published a number of books, and currently works with Olivia Gideon-Thomson of We Folk as a SEE-W publishing team. He authored documents on the British music scene and pop culture as well as films made for Massive Attack and The Streets.