As a book on techno’s history in Poland becomes a play, how long until a drama exploring the REAL story behind the Belleville Three – and who on earth could play the part of Derrick May?

Techno music’s history in Poland isn’t something I’ve ever thought about. Maybe it’s something I should think about more – I know someone at Resident Advisor has. Apparently, a book all about the subject has now been turned into a play.

Which got me thinking. I strongly believe in teaching history and all its perspectives. I’ve never been keen on the fact it’s the victors who typically write history, usually to their own advantage. And the Belleville Three myth is the perfect example of history being written by the victorious.

It’s also complete rubbish. The story goes that three black men from a very poor city got together and started making music which revolutionised the world. Most of this statement totally ignores the reality. They were indeed three black men and they were also from a city which had fallen on hard times. It’s also true their music had a significant impact on the world.

But that’s where the truth ends. In reality, the three men were from pretty stable, middle class families. And the story fails to say where they got their equipment from. Then again, the fact Atkins and May bought their equipment out of the proceeds of a credit card scam – by taking information printed on receipts from a petrol station – doesn’t exactly fit in with this narrative, does it?

And where did this romanticised story come from anyway? Step forward Neil Rushton. He was a journalist back in the 1980s who heard this music on a trip to Detroit and used his skills to write up this fantasy story. He then utilised connections at Virgin Records in the UK to persuade them to press some of these records to vinyl for British audiences.

Whenever journalists came calling, they would hear this story and recite it to their readers, usually without questioning any aspect of the tale. I can’t help but think – wouldn’t all this make for a very interesting play indeed?

The story has it all – crime, money, sex and lots of action. The only question that remains to be answered is who you’d get to play the title roles – and the even more curious question of how it all ends…

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