Belfast Punk (Warzone Centre 1997 – 2003)

The photographs in this book were taken sporadically over the years between 1997 - 2003, a small window of time considering the Warzone Collective opened its first venue in 1986. They were some of the first photographs I ever shot.

In hindsight, I wish I’d taken more, but at the time, I wasn’t purposely documenting things. I just happened to have a camera and snapped photos here & there whenever I thought of it. This was in the pre-digital era, so there aren’t many photos of the Warzone Centre from around this time. I stopped in about 2003 when the Warzone closed its doors.

People may say, “Who cares about punk in the 90’s? Wasn’t it all over by the early 80s?” But the truth is, punk (or whatever you want to call it) never went away. It may have lost its gimmicky, commercial appeal, but it didn’t die - it just seeped into the underground.

Punks live by their own rules & these photos reveal more than the drinking & dancing depicted here. Being a punk, especially in a city like Belfast was a political statement in itself. Not only were young punks kicking against ‘the man’, they were also kicking against sectarian divisions. Amid a historically troubled city with dark forces still swirling around, the ‘Warzone Centre’ remained a beacon of light and became the counter-cultural alternative hub for the greater Belfast area and beyond.

Belfast Punk: Warzone Centre 1997 - 2003 is published by Damiani and can be purchased via Amazon. / @rickyadam