The Red Bulletin September 2019 (UK)


Birth of rave

World Dance, near East Grinstead, West Sussex, August 1989

I set out with writer Alix Sharkey to photograph some of these ‘orbital’ raves [so-named because of their proximity to the newly

completed M25 motorway, which was given the moniker ‘the Magic Roundabout’]. I was worried about whether we’d actually find

any parties, as I’d been out with fellow journalists before, driving around Surrey, encountering police roadblocks, getting lost down

country lanes, doubling back, following convoys, getting lost again and finally having to give up and drive home at 6am. This time

we were lucky, as there were two raves a few miles apart near East Grinstead. At World Dance, they’d brought in these great lighting

rigs and sound systems on huge flatbed trucks, so keyboard wizard Adamski played tracks like N-R-G and I Dream of You live and

around 5,000 people danced all night. We left just as the dawn lit up the horizon.

Dave Swindells, photographer

A London nightlife snapper since the early ’80s, Swindells was

perfectly positioned to capture these pivotal moments in the birth of

rave in spring 1988, when DJs Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and

Nicky Holloway took their experiences in Ibiza the previous summer

and transported them to the UK club scene. “It was intense and

euphoric, kickstarting parties and outdoor raves, while pirate radio

reached even more people,” recalls Swindells (pictured here, furthest

right, in August 1989 at the second of the East Grinstead orbital raves).

“At the same time, there was democratisation in Russia, the Berlin Wall

was dismantled, the ‘Velvet Revolution’ took place in Czechoslovakia,

and Mandela was finally released in South Africa. It seemed like

oppressive regimes were taking a battering across the world.”

Sweet Harmony: Rave | Today, an exhibition featuring the work of

Dave Swindells and other photographers, is at the Saatchi Gallery

in London until September 14;


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