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The Scene That Celebrates Itself was a term used to describe a social and musical scene in the early 1990s within London and the Thames Valleymarker area.

The term was invented by the Melody Maker's Steve Sutherland in 1990 in a slightly contemptuous gesture. The term focused on the fact the bands involved, rather than engaging in traditional rivalries, were often seen at each other's gigs, sometimes playing in each other's bands, and drank together. Bands lumped into the 'scene' by the press included several of the bands that were branded with the shoegazing label, such as Chapterhouse, Lush, and Moose, and other (mainly indie) bands such as Blur (prior to the release of their single "Popscene"), Thousand Yard Stare, See See Rider, and Stereolab.

A prime example were Moose, who often swapped members with other bands on a given night. Moose's Russell Yates and Stereolab guitarist Tim Gane would often trade places, while "Moose" McKillop often played with See See Rider. Gane and his Stereolab colleague Laetitia Sadier even played on the 1991 session by Moose for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show.

The bands, producers and journalists of the time would gather in Londonmarker and their activities would be chronicled in the gossip pages of the music papers NME and Melody Maker.

The most famous club and focal point was Syndrome which was located on Oxford Streetmarker and ran weekly on Thursday nights. The scene could be compared to a (much) lower scale version of the expansive showbiz parties reported by other gossip magazines such as Hello! and the music press would report it in a similar style with cider replacing champagne. NME, in particular, embraced the scene and the unity of the bands was probably advantageous to their careers because when one band had a successful record, the other bands could share the publicity. The scene was extremely small and revolved around less than 20 regular individuals.

Matters have now come full circle however. The term is now parodied by one London club, Sonic Cathedral (an allusion to the parodies of the Simon Reynolds school of music journalism which used to appear on Steve Wright's Radio 1 show), which in direct homage to the shoegazing era refers to itself as 'The Night That Celebrates Itself'.


  1. Review of Slowdive's Souvlaki by Jason Parkes
  2. PopMatters | Columns | The Attic or The Underground | Do You Remember?
  3. " Peel Sessions: 16/04/1991 - Moose", Keeping It Peel, BBC
  4. Sonic Cathedral - The Night That Celebrates Itself

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