They preferred to sit on the floor

Rock music in South Wales at a time of industrial change


  • Mike Jones University of Liverpool



venue history, live music, Wales, popular music


This article asserts that the swinging sixties was not a phenomenon of London only, but a social, political, economic and cultural force that impacted all parts of the UK, including South Wales. This account focuses on the rise and demise of a long forgotten short-lived music venue in Ebbw Vale called the Drifters Escape (1969-1970). This small-scale council owned rock venue can be seen to capture the zeitgeist of the times, representing not only a changing youth culture's relationship with the establishment, but also a developing music industry, which was beginning to differentiate pop from rock and moving towards album dominated record sales. Interestingly, the Drifters Escape was simultaneously regarded by council authorities as both an opportunity (to build upon the financial benefits an independent rock venue could precipitate) and a threat (as its popularity was seen to threaten traditional notions of social order), a 'clash of cultures' that was not only experienced at a local level, but also more globally in education, the music press and across society, as 'the establishment' attempted to come to terms with changes in the tastes of youth culture. After reviewing the history of the venue, this account, which is investigated via the lens of local council records, press and stakeholder interviews, proceeds to provide a cogent explanation of not only how, but why certain members of the Ebbw Vale establishment viewed rock music as a 'problematic' trend at the time.

Author Biography

Mike Jones, University of Liverpool

Dr Mike Jones is Senior Lecturer in Music in the Departmentof Music at the University of Liverpool. His specialistfield is music industry studies. He directs two MA awards-in Music Industry Studies and the Classical Music Industry.His second book-length study of the music industry, entitledDigitized Music Industry, is due in 2020. He co-authoredthe report into the economic value of the Beatles for Liverpool'stourist economy and sits on that city's Beatles Legacygroup. He wrote, produced and directed a concert on theBeatles and Indian Music staged at Liverpool Philharmonicin 2017.


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How to Cite

Jones, M. (2020). They preferred to sit on the floor: Rock music in South Wales at a time of industrial change. Popular Music History, 12(1), 35–54.