1990’s Rave scene


noun /rāv/
raves, plural

  • An extremely enthusiastic recommendation or appraisal of someone or something
    • – their recent tour received rave reviews
  • A lively party or gathering involving dancing and drinking
    • – their annual fancy-dress rave
  • A party or event attended by large numbers of young people, involving drug use and dancing to fast, electronic music
  • Electronic dance music of the kind played at such events

The rave scene very much came from the Acid House scene of the late 1980s. Acid House being a derivative of house music which added a repetitive beat with elements of trance. Acid House has its origins in Chicago where the first supposed Acid House record was created.

Acid House continued to remain prominent throughout the 90’s rave scene with the emblem and predominant logo of the culture being a yellow smiley face symbol which was commonly associated with Acid House

This stemmed into the early 1990’s and gave birth to the whole ‘Rave’ movement.  By 1991 many notable rave orientated organisations such as Fantazia, Universe, Raindance and Amnesia House were holding massive legal raves in fields, warehouses, abandoned buildings and any other expanse of space would prove the perfect venue. This started local councils passing laws andincreasing fees to stop and generally discourage any rave organisations from acquiring licenses needed.

The happy old skoolstyle was replaced by the darker jungle and the faster happy hardcore.

For a ‘raver’ going to a rave was not just about the music, it was about the fashion. A mixture of neon colours, tye-dye, bum bags and the smiley face logo was the raver’s trademark. It seemed a statement of standing out within the confines of a club and emulate the neon or strobe lighting of club scenes.

Drug taking was fairly prominent allowing ravers to continue dancing well into the night and was very recreational and prominent within the subculture.

Often the drug of choice was ecstasy usually in tablet form but MDMA, a derivative of ecstasy was also taking in powder form which held stimulant properties. Recreational Ecstasy use spread worldwide, beginning on the holiday island of Ibiza in Spain. Ectasy tablets were often branded to create an image, sell better and to give it a designer drug image as well as encouraging brand loyalty.


1990’s Essex Boys

I decided to look as the notorious Essex Boys as I am from Essex and know a bit about the subject. Some time during the night on the 6th of December 1995 three men, all career criminals and drug dealers, were shot with a shotgun as they sat in a Range Rover parked in a remote farm track in Essex. After a long trial, engineer Michael Steele and mechanic Jack Whomes were convicted largely on the word of Darren Nicholls over a gangland dispute over drugs. Nicholls was a former friend who claimed he had driven the pair to the scene and picked them up after the killing. There was no forensic evidence against the pair and no eyewitnesses who saw them in the area on the night of 6 December 1995. The informant Mr Nicholls, who had been charged with conspiracy to import cannabis, was later given credit for turning Queen’s Evidence and was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Unknown to the defence at the time, Mr Nicholls, then under police protection, had entered into a contract with a journalist to collaborate on a book about the case to be published after the trial.

The appeal hearing was told that Mr Nicholls was thought to have received between £15,000 and £20,000 for the book and to have received money for participating in a television film about the life of a supergrass

During the case, the trial judge, Mr Justice Hidden, said in his summing up to the jury: “Nicholls is a convicted criminal who was engaged in drug abuse and the importation of drugs into this country. You must bear in mind it was in his own interest to become a prosecution witness… he hopes to get less time to serve.2

This led to films being created portraying some of the events films included Essex Boys, Bonded by blood and rise of the foot soilders:

1980’s Hip Hop

Hip hop began to gain most presence during the 1980’s. It is defined by four key stylistic elements: rapping, DJing and scratching, sampling or synthesis, and beatboxing.

Creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It is believed that he created it while teasing a friend who had just joined the  Army, by scat singing the words hip,hop,hip,hop in a way that mimicked the rhythmic of marching soldiers. Then later he worked the hip hop into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang.

Hip hop music was both influenced by disco and a backlash against it. The 1980s marked the diversification of hip hop as the genre developed more complex styles. A notable part of the diversification process can be seen through such tracks as Grandmaster Flash’s “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (1981), a single consisting entirely of sampled tracks




1980’s rude boy

My definition of rude boys is as avid listeners of ska music, especially that of traditional and 2-tone waves of ska, however can also be categorised as listening to Garage,Grime, Reggae, Dancehall, Jungle, Drum and Bass, And as of recently Hip hop, Rap, although Hip hop was gaining notoriety within the 1980’s and became vast in this era. Usually dressed in a suit and bowler and can be perceived as a trouble maker of the 1980’s and possibly where the ‘rude’ comes from which shows that the person in question is a bit naughty. However although this is my definition I cannot categorise all under this umbrella.

The Rude Boys were rebels without jobs, fighting against the social conditions of the era. Their dress black suits and hats with thin ties, was meant to be a symbol of irony, accentuating their poverty.

Above rude Boys, Chuka and Dubem were identical twins who became famous in London for their style. They always dressed the same and would entertain travellers outside the Highbury and Islington tube station playing ska and reggae music.


1980’s Third wave ska and ska Punk

2 Tone ska/ ska punk:

The term ‘2 tone’ when applied to ska is derived from the company 2 Tone records which signed many of the notable ska bands of the 1980’s. 2 Tone ska was prevalent within the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Rude Boys and their new dances and hard attitudes contributed to the quicker, edgier sound that ska developed with time. Other factors, such as the immigration of Jamaicans to the United Kingdom, lead to the Two Tone ska movement, and eventually to modern third wave ska.

2 Tone ska paved the way for ska punk which was a fusion of Ska and punk rock. This by bands such as The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, and Madness.

For me The Specials patricularly defines ska. In particular with ‘A message to you rudy’ which directly adresses the sub culture of rude boys.

The fusion of the two genres became most prevalent in the 1980s, during the third wave of ska, and this is what most people associate with ska punk.

Bands began to fuse Punk ideologies and angry rifts with brass instrumentals. This new fusion of genres is still  current today with bands like Reel Big Fish, the mighty mighty bosstones and No doubt which have used the combination of punk and ska to form the genre of their music.

We can also see that lead vocalist Aaron Barrett wearing glasses with the classic black and white check which defines ska. The reason being is the checkerboard look was a trademark for 2 tone records which signed most notoriously known ska bands.

Bands like NOFX which began in 1983 are also still notable today. They started the band under the name NO-FX, after a Boston hardcore punk band called Negative FX. Their punk image is very notable but its also important to note their ska fused songs like ‘Eat the meek’ which has brass and trumpet interludes and ska inspired beat.

One form of movement categorised and introduced through ska and in particular ska punk is the notion of skanking.


Urban dictionary definition:

3. skanking
skanking is the single most extreme form of motion attainable by a human being.
4. skanking
dance performed to ska 

how to skank (rudeboy guide)
1. Skip
2. Continue to skip while staying in one place
3. While doing that, move your arms like you’re running