In 1997, the artist Mark Leckey returned to England after a few years in America, during which he couldn't stop thinking about England. Leckey, who was in his mid-thirties, was nostalgic for the carefree tribalism of his youth, which was spent with friends at soccer matches and dance clubs. He devoted the next two years to making something that would express this sense of yearning—and also, ideally, exorcise it.
The result, a spellbinding fifteen-minute video collage titled “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore,” consists of found footage loosely documenting the history of British dance culture, from the discos and all-night northern-soul parties of the seventies to the illegal warehouse raves and decadent night clubs of the eighties and nineties. The fact that the dancing and the audio are rarely synchronized only heightens the sense of invincible euphoria, as young people strut and twirl, sometimes in silence, always immune from judgment. Leckey had experienced only the tail end of the history that “Fiorucci” depicted, some of which was quite ugly. One sequence portrays the menacing subculture of soccer hooligans; the video’s title refers to an Italian clothing brand favored by many of them. But, in the years since, the video has become emblematic of a romantic, generation-spanning nostalgia for British night life.