Club Revenge has received a lot of stick over the past fortnight by the academic community about it’s alleged ‘classist’, Chav night. What is astonishing to me, however, is the lack of knowledge surrounding the issue, and gay culture more broadly.
Firstly, criticism seems to over simplify the term ‘Chav’ and it’s corresponding culture. It was more than a classist slur, it was an aesthetic, a style. Many of us went to school when tracksuits and Nike backpacks made us instantly popular. Having an Adidas sign shaved into the back of your head was a status symbol. It seems obvious to me that Revenge is trying to inspire some of that nostalgia from our childhoods. Critics should consider that this mainstreaming of urban culture and fashion is also a generational phenomenon, not just an issue of class.
Furthermore, Critics should familiarise themselves with the concept of ‘re-appropriation’ and how studies have proven it to be a healthy and effective way of shaking off stereotypes and stigma. In the playground context, ‘Chav’ culture is viewed as a hyper-masculine identity. Many young gay men have felt excluded from this in their youth, perhaps sometimes even becoming victims of that culture. When school is done though, and they are out of the closet, they are able to express themselves in ways which were restricted to them in the playground setting. This explains the gay fascination with chav culture. It is common knowledge within the LGBTQ community that gay culture has already fetishised sportswear and the ‘scally’ look, so it seems logical for an entertainment venue to capitalise on a chav theme. To overlook this element of the debate reveals a serious hetero normative gap in knowledge.
Much of the rhetoric used against Club Revenge seems to claim that the term ‘chav’ is almost synonymous with the working class; That the working class are a homogenous group of people who will all be unanimously outraged by the term ‘chav’ and Revenge for using it against them. This is simply untrue. The opposition fails to see that the working class is a multi-ethnic, culturally diverse sect, perhaps more so than any other class. As a working class man, I am offended that those voices have rendered me ‘chav’ by default. Last week’s article spoke of stereotypes, but the author failed to see how they themselves have become an enabler of classist profiling. The only classist behaviour I see throughout this whole scandal is the patronising victimisation of the working class by academics. Lets not forget, Revenge doesn’t exist to make political statements. It is a nightclub. It’s purpose is to be entertaining. They should not be held responsible for middle class guilt.
As a die-hard liberal, I understand the temptation to jump on a cause in the name of social equality, but I urge everyone to pick their battles. Lets get real, a nightclub is hardly the beacon of upper-middle class institutions likely to be pushing a classist agenda. In general, the attack against Revenge was weak, un researched and unconvincing and all that energy could have been used much more appropriately elsewhere.