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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
What does a deaf rave sound like?
Club nights for the deaf and hard of hearing are growing in popularity. How do they work?

Club night
Good vibrations
Thumping bass. Throbbing beats. Music so loud it can be physically felt. Clubbers don't need to use their ears to get a feel for the music - the dance floor experience can be picked up through the rumble of a pumped-up bass line.

On Saturday about 900 clubbers turned out for a deaf rave at the Rocket club in north London, the fourth event in the past year run by Troi Lee, who was born profoundly deaf.

And on Wednesday night, Radio 1's Gilles Peterson is among the DJs who will take to the decks at Deaf Jam, a one-off club night to raise money for deaf charities.

How do these events differ from a regular club night? Volume, says organiser James Hoggarth.

"The volume may be pushed a little further and the bass turned up to 11 so the purpose of the night can be truly be shared with the deaf and hard of hearing crowd."

He first got the idea when he put his hands over his ears one night out clubbing, and realised that he could feel the music as strongly as he could hear it.

"So I've asked the DJs to pick music with big chunky bass lines and heavy rhythmic tracks. Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, which has a big panther of a bass line, is bound to get an airing; and one of my must-plays is LFO, a techno track from the early 90s famous for shattering club sound systems."

The event will be held at Plastic People, an east London club renowned for its powerful sound system (and heavy duty sound insulation).

As the music gets louder and the vibrations get stronger, everyone cheers and dances
Ashton Phillip
Deaf clubber Ashton Phillip, who went to the Easter Saturday rave, says the music is much louder than at regular club nights.

"You feel the music in your whole body. As it gets louder and the vibrations get stronger, everyone cheers and dances.

"The DJs played R 'n' B, rap, reggae and hip hop. Most deaf people couldn't tell what kind of music was playing from these vibrations. Some thought it was rock when it was really R 'n' B because both feel like heavy music."

And Shahid Hussain, who travelled down from Bolton for the rave, says he never believed music could create such strong vibrations. "I could feel it in my chest and my feet; it made me feel like I am flying."

As at a regular club night, the lighting changes colour to reflect the music. The stage, too, is more brightly lit so that deaf clubbers can see the performers signing on stage. At Saturday's rave, these included a deaf Australian comic, a rap contest using hand signals, and karaoke in which soloists signed the lyrics to popular tracks.

"It would be hard for deaf people to have a good time without lighting," Ashton says.

"Many deafies prefer to chat than to dance, but it was quite difficult to talk to each other - not much lighting on the dance floor, only on the stage. But it was a brilliant time."


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