In 1994 Rave split in two directions:  the clean and the dirty.  Illegal raves were shut down under the eery Criminal Justice Act, with the threat of sound systems being imprisoned, and organisers of parties being marched off equally quietly.  The new dawn of sanitisation came with the nation inventing tax-happy alcopops; rave went safely indoors, away from pagan sunrises, into a world of government control.

MattkoMatthewSmith1stAntiCJAMarchLondonTrafalgarSq1May94+9021st Anti Criminal Justice Act March

The scene changed – diluted, and niched.  The drugs changed.  Leah Betts died.  Intelligent dance music emerged (the precursor to EDM),  drum n bass kicked off, nights like Lost went deep, record shops like Eukahouse went progressive, Gilles Peterson branded World Funk, hip-hop went gangsta, and uber-DJs emerged with their back up from the BBC.  Thank fuck Mr C’s The End existed.  Many of the original protesters and Reclaim the Street-Spiral Tribers bought trucks, went double-feral, took refuge up the ramblas of places like Orgiva in the Andalusian hills – starting the Dragon festival – before coming all-out junkies, or setting up hypno-birthing yurts.  Away from the trannie scene of handbag house, or the shite feel-up swingbeat clubs, was alternative domination through white-boy Britpop  (and we have a brilliant article by Graham Bendel on the best London clubs of the booze trash cocaine-era in the print edition of COLD LIPS II which you can support here, and an edit will appear on this site in coming months…).

Hip Hop Battle Mosside Carnival Manchester 89
In short, the world atomised when the government dropped a cultural disposal bomb the size of many Hiroshimas on a self-found movement, which set to destroy them.  The dirty side of this split was an extension of the squatting scene, where dreds were a V-sign to L’Oreal-type propaganda of ‘being worth it’ – and lead to the brilliant Transition movement, founded in crusty central, Totnes – just up the road from the eco-haven of a progressive institute, the Schumacher College in Dartmouth, and Dartington Hall.

However, before we digress, this is an invitation to look at these beautiful pictures by Matthew Smith who started the phenom Kickstarter project – which did double what it set out to do – £23K rather than £12K  – that’s the old free parties for you – half the country wanted to attend.  Before the gov belittled such freedoms.


ClownGirl Harvest Fayre Cilgerran Wales 94
Free Party Glastonbury 95
Free Party Under Clifton Suspension Bridge Bristol 95
Wanstonia Eviction No M11 Link Protest Feb 94
Nathan Convoy Field Glastonbury 89
Freeparty Convoy Pennines Sheffield 95
Freeparty Convoy Pennines Sheffield 95
The Mother Changed Priorities 1995

Matthew Smith says: “It is now 23 years since Government acted to prohibit and enclose that cultural freedom in law and it is time to tell that story from the inside. It is often said that history is written by the dominant forces in any particular situation, but with Kickstarter crowdfunding and digital social networking that is no longer the case.”

Drop by the pop-up at 3 Carnaby Street to groove in realtime to various Museum of Youth Culture projects, or support EXIST TO RESIST, and BUY FOR £35 NOW



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