Acid House Experience
February 1998 & Reissued by Virgin 2018
Rave Generation Interview 2018
Early in the book you describe the political and economic climate in the UK during the late 80’s. How much do you think this was responsible for the rise of the party scene?
Politics, economics and the restriction of free movement is probably responsible for every subcultural shift since World War 2. Each period came complete with its own set of parameters, normally reflected in personal appearance and social groupings. Acid House arose from the desire to reject the established corporate model of dressy nightclubs, wine bars and tired pop music.
If you hadn’t entered the world of promotion what do you think you’d have done with your life instead?
It’s hard to say really, the trajectory l was on would’ve brought me into artist management. I spent the two previous years in the pop music industry, which highlighted a variety of roles befitting of my character. It’s difficult to assess but Acid House changed my life in ways that money or professional status couldn’t penetrate. Changing a person’s world view is no small task, changing a generations world view is epic, something that stays with you forever.
Getting thousands of party-goers to the venue before the police would have been an impossible task if you hadn’t been so highly organised and coordinated. Had the methods you used already been established or were you making it up as you went along?
I’d never arranged anything other than an 18th birthday party before l started staging warehouse parties late in 1988. Everything we did was breaking new ground because promoters before us were running away when police arrived outside the building. I went out and fronted law enforcement as the legal occupant of the building, when in most cases we’d broken into the building only hours before. Our tools of the trade were loyal manpower and mobile phones. We planned all routes ahead of the event, if police set up roadblocks we’d get word out and change routes to the venue. We had a variety of improvised tools at our disposal, from rolling meeting points, emergency meeting points and team led convoys powering through the streets. If we had to row people across a lake, two by two, we would’ve done just that.
There was an article on the BBC website recently that described the rise of the free party scene. How do you think the challenges for promoters will have changed nowadays?
I’ve been observing the free party scene from afar over the last few years. I’ve actually been contacted by various individuals from the scene that hoped l would join the movement. I had my time to shine staging illegal parties, promoters like Genesis’88 set the blueprint, it’s way too risky for me to even be in the building. In my time we had anonymity so unless you knew us personally or knew someone that knew us, no-one could identify us as the promoters. Put it this way, we didn’t jump on the stage at our own events and thank everyone for coming.
Today illegal party promoters face the exact challenges we did in the late eighties except technology and social media has made tracking people much easier. In essence the promoters job is to get as many people to the building as possible without losing staff members along the way. In 1989 the only factor stopping the Police Pay Party Unit from crashing your event was huge crowds of people inside the building. From what l see and read in the media, large crowds of people are the only element stopping law enforcement from raiding parties today. That said the illegal party may go ahead as planned but someone might have to take a hit, which in this case is the promoter / organiser.
You worked with several security teams in the early years including some particularly interesting characters. Do you know the whereabouts of any of these people?
They’ve written or writing books and making films about their lives. I actually still get on with a few of them today. I can’t really blame the security teams for what took place back then, money came thick and fast through those warehouse doors. Villains in those days were robbing post offices and banks for substantially less than we were making on the bar much less on the door.
You refer to your events as “dance parties” and not “raves”. Is it right that you don’t like the phrase “rave”? If so, why?
I have nothing against the word rave, in recent years l find myself using the phrase much more to describe the period, generally speaking, people understand when l frame them as raves rather than Acid House or Dance Parties. My issue was its use to describe the period was generated by the UK’s press and not party goers or promoters. My parents called they’re own parties raves, so why on earth would the next generation use the same terms. We wanted to experience the moment in a new light not one regurgitated from decades ago.
There’s been a real resurgence of interest in the old skool scene in recent times with the addition of new books, documentaries, family “raves” and seminar events. What is it about that time that holds such fascination for people?
Acid House touched an entire generation of people, regardless of age, background or locality. We knew it was special back then and time has shown how difficult it was to repeat. No reunion can bring that feeling back but they do warm our hearts because we can share a moment together and remember that unified feeling of emotional connection to a wider world. Memories running this deep cannot be shaken, we’ll remember this period until the very end of days.
What do you tend to listen to these days?
I’m very chilled these days and enjoy the music that takes me on a personal journey. I don’t enjoy being led and told how to feel about music, l tend to listen to instrumentals and map my own path through the sounds. I currently listen to more academic and esoteric lectures than l do music.
Finally, if I offered you a microdot and a parachute right now what would you say?!
Well, my Class A days are decades behind me, but give me a shaman and a mountain in Peru and I’ll be hugging rain-clouds in a heartbeat.
Big Love x