In February 2016 the old skool rave scene witnessed a true first - a three day art gallery, pop-up record shop and series of seminars. If ever anyone needed proof of the legitimacy of the rave scene and it's historical significance then surely this was it. For three consecutive days Club Aquarius celebrated the cultural revolution that ultimately led to the music/clubbing scene that is the worldwide phenomenon we know today.
A sell out event, The Rave Story Seminars 2016 focused on three discrete areas over three evenings: "Original Warehouse Stories", "The Most Influential Pirate Radio Pioneers", and "The Artists Who Inspired So Many". These were stories from the originators - those that were there at the birth of the rave scene. Featuring tales of M25 madness, commandeered warehouses, pirate radio cat and mouse, and the rise of the first wave of acid house, hardcore and jungle DJ's/artists, the recordings on offer here are a must for anyone with an interest in the birth of rave culture. Each seminar is spread over two CD's - the first being the discussions chaired by Uncle Dugs, and the second being a Q&A, with all those involved being quizzed by members of the audience.
These first two CD's of the fourteen CD package - "Original Warehouse Stories" - offer real insight into the blood, sweat and tears that went into every aspect of staging those legendary, pre-Criminal-Justice-Act events, and how the scene had to adapt to new legislation designed to outlaw the burgeoning scene.
"The Most Influential Pirate Radio Pioneers" gives a flavour of the dichotomy between station rivalry and the sense of camaraderie that was apparent in the face of pressure from regulators. This seminar feels particularly London-centric and although I personally had no experience of pirate radio in the early 90's it is no less interesting as an account of what was a very large part of expanding the scene at the time.
The final seminar of the 2016 event is entitled "The Artists Who Inspired So Many" and delivers exactly what you'd hope. Featuring such luminaries of the scene as Rat Pack, Micky Finn, Slipmatt, Jumping Jack Frost, Mark Archer (Altern 8), Billy Daniel Bunter and Ray Keith, these two CD's are crammed with anecdotes, experiences and honest (and in some cases, moving) accounts of the early days of careers that have gone on to stand the test of time.
Given the success of these three sell-out events it should come as no surprise that The Rave Story returned in style in 2017 with a new format this time including four days of seminars. In addition to the similarly-themed seminars of the previous year there was also an evening entitled "Evolution - The Various Music's Rave Inspired", which focused on the legacy of the old skool rave scene and it's influence on contemporary culture.
In all you get 14 CD's in this package, each boasting an hour or more of spoken word content from the two series' of seminars. The discs themselves are presented in the sort of packaging often used for DVD boxsets and would sit well on a bookcase. Disc's 13 and 14 are cunningly subtitled "The Lost Files" as the original recordings had been lost due to a corrupt file. The audio used on these discs has been extracted from a video recording made on the night and, although not as good quality as the previous 12 discs, remains perfectly serviceable if a little quiet at times.
Some of the many memorable moments on offer are hearing Fabio and Grooverider describe the early years (before the rise to Radio 1), Caspa talking about his influences, too many crazy stories of pirate-radio madness to mention, and Wayne Anthony (Genesis) describing how acid house created an opportunity for men to tell their mates they loved them!