“No-one should ever do acid in a place like this,’ he tells me, looking crazed and angry. ‘You do it in woods with naked hippy chicks listening to folk music, not here in an army barracks in Northern Ireland full of violent thugs!’
Stuart Griffiths’ Pigs Disco is a stark, visceral, and at times nightmarish journey into the heart of surviving the Paras amid “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland during the early 90’s. Griffiths joined the British Paratroop Regiment at 16, with notebook and instamatic camera, he was soon documenting the isolation and unique camaraderie that emerges from being plonked in a place where people hold a very special brand of contempt for you outside the confines of your barracks. Mix three parts Boredom, booze and bullying with a penchant for heady drug taking and you have all the necessary ingredients for close quarters cohabiting young men to exorcise their idleness; spilling over into hard partying, cruel and unusual punishment and blokes in birthday suits, all and more caught acting up before Griffiths lens.
Part photo essay, part diary, part collected sketches and ephemera, Pigs Disco is a frank and candid account of a very unique conflict zone, not in some far flung jungle but close to these lads backyards, all the while “friends back home were enjoying a ‘Summer of Love’ revival, getting high and loved up, listening to the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays”. A nascent culture was emerging; raves, new music, and new drugs and it was creeping into the barracks of Belfast and beyond, where many among the ranks were dropping acid, pulling birds and dealing best with the sheer boredom inside and very real danger outside the walls. An out-and-out mad hatters ball raves on within the pages of Pigs Disco, playing out right under the noses of command, who seem blissfully unaware of the mischief and madness that Griffiths eats up and pours out in photo and words. These are young men given a pretty shitty lot, coping with it the best they know how, Griffiths makes it compelling stuff.
“How am I going to operate in a sane manner with a rifle and 90 bullets with a head full of acid?’ – good question.