Radical Dance Faction (who are popularly shortened down to RDF) began in 1986 in Hungerford. They were founded by Chris Bowsher, who always remained the core of the group. In their early days they were known as Military Surplus, and indeed they kept this military connotation when they switched their name to something harder and startlingly original - "RADICAL DANCE FACTION."
The group's name recalls the Red Army Faction of the 1970s. While this militant association was exactly what the band projected, their politics were very different. Radical Dance Faction were never Marxists, but rather were committed to a type of radical politics aligned with Anarchism. This reference to Anarchism can be seen in their logo, which features, right behind their name, the diagonally sweeping red and black Anarchist flag.
Radical Dance Faction's music fused a punk sensibility and attitude with dub and ska grooves and sounds. They took the anger and anarchism of punk, but approached it with the mellow determination of reggae. Chris' lyrics were spoken just as much as they were sung, and primarily dealt with political issues such as the Poll Tax Riots, working class life in the UK, and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Chris was a scary geezer, whose worn voice perfectly suited the dark moodiness of the music. He personally witnessed the Hungerford massacre, describing his experience in Hot on the Wire, and this seems to have made a strong impression on him in his early political development.
Radical Dance Faction never had a stable line up for too long, with Chris acting as the only original member of the band at the time of their break-up in the late 1990s. Since their split , various members have gone on to invovlement with other groups, such as the Revolutionary Dub Warriors, P.A.I.N., DF118, The Wonder Stuff, The Rhythmites, and Dub the Earth. Radical Dance Faction were regular players on the UK free festival scene before the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, and were an inspiring part of the crusty and anarcho punk movement.