How Radical Dance Faction Blew My Mind…


Radical Dance Faction (RDF) is a band formed by Chris Bowsher in Hungerford in 1986. The group were originally named ‘Military Surplus’. RDF mix punk, dub and ska elements into their sound with Bowsher’s spoken word lyrics dealing with political and social issues through punk poetry.


RDF and Drop The Gun 

I went out for what was to be my third night in a row, aside 9 hour work shifts during the day. On Thursday I’d played drums with my band Thee Dagger Debs at the 100 club supporting Johnny Moped, Friday I’d seen the mighty Wonk Unit at Phoenix bar in High Wycombe and Saturday I was planning to catch Radical Dance Faction in Hungerford with support from Drop the Gun. But by the time Saturday rolled around and I knew I was back in work Sunday, my neck was aching from head banging, legs knackered from pogoing and my arms limp from drumming (luckily no hangover). It just so happens that the guitarist from Drop The Gun is a work colleague of mine so as I limped into work Saturday feeling completely dead, he collared me and made sure I was going to the gig that night. “It’s going to be brilliant and it’s free!” There was no way of getting out of it now!

I’d never even heard of Hungerford before and I made my way up there expecting a half empty pub. How wrong I was. Down a secluded, narrow road I found a huge building and could hear a party going on inside, walking through the front door the music and atmosphere hit me as I was confronted with a packed out venue
full of hippies and strobe lights. The walls were covered in army netting and there was a four tear sound system pumping out the DJ’s selection. I couldn’t get through the crowd to even see what was going on and was confronted with a mix of mad hippy-rave characters including a  guy dressed as a pirate with lights dangling from his beard. All of these signs indicated that I had found the fans of Radical Dance Faction. Managing to get through the crowd gradually I found a few friends from Drop the Gun, we had a beer and a chat and soon it was time for them to play. The singer was a really funny guy on the microphone and was keeping spirits high between songs with his witty and dry sense of humour. The band were really interesting and included guitar, drums, bass and some brass instruments. They had a very raw energy about them and it took a couple of songs before thecb49935a4c590937c01c3625f7d83cd243286172y really clicked into place as a unit and sounded tight but in an anarcho-punk sort of way it didn’t matter. The rhythms were infectious to dance to and the lyrics were very political and real. The things they repeated on the microphone were mostly anti-war messages which broke the surface, showing that these people were intelligent, switched on and had a point to make aside from the fact that they chose to be happy and unite in a musical celebration. It was powerful. When they finished we went off looking for Chris Bowsher from Radical Dance Faction. I wanted to see him before he went onstage so I could ask him to come on the Way Out Radio show. We gave up quickly are reported to standing outside with a cigarette and beer. Luckily enough he walked past us so I introduced myself, told him about the show and we had a picture together. RDF went on about 11.30 and blew the place apart with their tribal rhythms, Egyptian basslines and lyrics of protest. The whole place went nuts. Half way through the set the singer Chris opened up a tub of cakes and handed them out to the crowd, that got everyone even higher and people were just vibing and dancing together. They finished on my favourite song of theirs, ‘Surplus People’ and I lost my mind completely, everyone was skanking. They went on to play an encore of two more tracks before lending the crowd back to the DJ. Everyone there was smiling and really friendly. I could feel positivity in the air and people would just start talking to you and complimenting each other on what they were wearing – it was such an easy place to be. I felt that I’d made about 5 more friends at the end of the night which was cool. On the way out I saw Chris Bowsher again smoking a cigarette and I couldn’t resist but tell him how much I’d enjoyed the gig. He was really pleased to hear it and gave me a hug saying “Thanks for coming down, glad you enjoyed it! You’ve got a radio show right? We’ll have to come and do that, yeah – I’ll add you on facebook.”

The next day I woke up to a friend request from Chris Bowsher – a man of his word! Moral of the story is, always go out to a gig if it’s an option – even when you ache and want to stay home, going out will always bring new experiences into your life that you’d miss if you stayed in bed!




  1. Nice write up, but that pic of the band is the line up of 20 years ago, back when I was their roadie! All changed, other than Chris.


  2. Ahoy and OYEZ, it was indeed a wonderful gig from “the pirate with lights” AKA DJ DAPPER DAN who also has a radio show Skanking Delights every Saturday on Forest FM 22-24hrs and provided the tunes when the audience was leant back to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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