Things that might not sound that great now but that were in fact completely brilliant in 1990.
Once you start to chat to those not lucky enough to have been involved in the acid house/rave scene, you often find that mere words struggle to describe how much fun was had. This is unsurprising. Those magical technicolour dream-nights of sensuous excitement and riotous fun generated something extraordinary. I hesitate to use the word ‘energy’ as most of us weren’t Yogic voyagers, we were dedicated hedonists. But the memory of the brand new, nameless thrills of those days can still produce goosebumps in the initiated.
Context is everything, and it can be hard to see the appeal of say, loads of people blowing whistles over the throb of a sound system in a near-pitch black warehouse. And try explaining why dancing together in an air craft hanger in autumnal Suffolk was so great. It’s only when events are placed into the larger context, as part of a brand new, furiously addictive and thrilling cult of music and dancing, that they start to make sense.
So join us as we look back from here in 2017, the age of whatever the fuck this is turning out to be – it’s probably not going to be remembered as the 3rd Summer of Love – as we sit in our rave-rocking chair and gently reminisce about the good old days of hardcore raving.
1.Dancing in car parks
Car parks? Where you go to park cars? Yep. Because several hundred wired teenagers aching for excitement and adventure gathered together around their car stereos on a hot Friday evening is a recipe for big fun. (‘And the party’s just begun’). Why were we in car parks? We were waiting for a signal, for someone to receive a call on a massive ‘mobile’ phone or pager and then suddenly everyone would pile into their cars and set off in convoy (see below). Like party-animals of the British Savannah, drawn to the oasis of the Tesco car park at the Esso Services, we would gather in the evening sunlight in a supermarket car park on the edge of town. As the tarmac slowly cooled and the shadows lengthened, every car arriving would be playing their mix tapes or pirate radio.
Ah, the Whistle Posse – which as we all know, simply refers to those who bought a whistle to the rave – split opinion at the time. Some people didn’t like the whistle posse, some loved ‘em. And if you were stuck next to someone who’d forgotten they’d stuck a whistle in their mouths who had become accustomed to the weird noise that their breathing was making, then it could get annoying.
But it was part of that wild abandon and lust to participate rather than spectate – to be involved and contribute rather than waiting to be entertained, safe in the knowledge that it was us that would either make or break the party. At times such as these, the combination of the human noise and the whistle posse seemed to momentarily lift 100s of people clean off the ground. Ok, put the whistles away now though, enough.
Some people used to be ‘characters’ on the dance floor. This sounds awful, because as we all know, just because you are a character, doesn’t mean that you have character. If you tell me that your mate Ian is a ‘character’, then I’m pretty sure that I’ll be busy if ever asked to meet him.
But in contrast to Ian, there was a guy at the parties we used to put on who would always come as ‘The pH Avenger’. It started small – one month he had on a home made t-shirt. Next month he had a cape too. By the summer he had an entire pH Avenger outfit, cape, gloves, mask, bootees, all in red and pink. No one ever asked him what pH Avenger meant, and he never offered any information or comment on his alter-ego, he just came and danced all night, as the pH Avenger.
Again, MCs chattin’ pon de mic was something which split the opinion of the crowd and again, this was really only due to the overuse of the MC. Much like the whistle posse, if you could guarantee that they’d only go bonkers once or twice an hour, we’d be golden. But even if they sometimes got a bit bad-boy-biddy-biddy carried away, MCs were another brilliant part of the rave scene, taken straight from Jamaican sound system culture on to the M25 and beyond.
Lilac Hoodies might sound like a euphemism for a lewd act or a new smart drug that all the kidz are taking, but in fact, pastel-hued hoodies were a perfectly innocent expression of the breaking down of old gender barriers, probably. Also if you had to travel home on public transport in the company of norms, then hoodies of any colour were super useful to hide your soul from their prying eyes.
6.Driving in a convoy of cars in the middle of the night
Flashback to sticking your teenage head out of a car sunroof and whooping into the night sky at the sight of the huge convoy of cars snaking out behind you, all destined for the rave.
Once we all somehow ended up driving behind some poor man who was driving home from his shift at the pub and didn’t know what the hell to make of the fifty or so cars that wouldn’t stop following him down the lanes to his cottage, bless him.
Rave Scene Things that the jury are still out on include:
Vicks Vapour Rub, Travel Fox trainers, T99 ‘Anasthasia’, tracks sampling Enya, Poppers.
For more rave reminisces from the lost weekends of acid house and hardcore click one of these: