Letters - UK garage culture

Contrary to Ross Diamond's article (The Back Half, 22 April), UK garage isn't just the latest pop phenomenon. UK garage is a subculture, multiple and collective: it's tribal, elite and viral. It has grass roots. It works by exploiting a London-based infrastructure (pirate radio, specialist shops, dubplates, white labels, drugs and clubs) that is basically anarcho-capitalist, and has existed since the early days of raving in the 1990s. Often, the same people are involved (members of Radio 1's garage reps, the Dreem Teem, were hard-core rave DJs in their younger days).

Nor is UK garage primarily "the sound of young male alienation". Many on the scene are ageing ravers with kids. The gender balance is much more complicated than Diamond's reductive gangsta/rude boy misogyny allows: a deference to girls' taste has been there from the start. The music itself can run as sexless electro noise or tracks of polymorphous tactility.

Oliver Craner
London E5

This article first appeared in the 06 May 2002 issue of the New Statesman, The man who would be king