These Photos Capture the Colorful Joy of France's 90s Rave Scene
All photos by Olivier Degorce


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These Photos Capture the Colorful Joy of France's 90s Rave Scene

In his new book, photographer Olivier Degorce revisits the vanguardist decade of the French club scene. It’s an intimate and fleeting look into the golden age of European techno.
Marc-Aurèle Baly
Paris, FR
Meredith Balkus
translated by Meredith Balkus
Brooklyn, US

A version of this article originally appeared on Noisey France.

There’s always something edifying about looking back on the earliest days of our idols. For example, leafing through the photo book Plastic Dreams by Olivier Degorce transports viewers to the birthplace of European house music: Paris in the 1990s. Therein, one can pick out the Chemical Brothers back when they had more hair and new ideas, Rebotini without his trademark mustache and tailored three-piece suits, and a young and reckless Carl Craig. But above all, Degorce’s book shows us the vision of the nightclub before it was a sponsored, industrial thing, back when it was a bit edgier, exciting, and mysterious.


In addition to capturing an era and a movement, Degorce documented the beginnings of the artists who would later go on to dominate the international electronic music scene. His photos bring us to underground parties in the Parisian banlieue, illustrate the newfound visibility and virtual deification of the DJ, and feature many of the personalities who would soon make their rounds through the biggest festivals in the country. How do we interact these suspended moments in time without reducing them to reverent—and inadvertently inaccurate—fantasies? Degorce doesn’t really tell us. Instead, he allows us to establish our own opinions. In looking at these snapshots, two impulses bubble to the surface: the need to mourn a golden era gone by and the fierce desire to immortalize it in our own mythology.

Plastic Dreams by Olivier Degorce was released in March by Headbangers Publishing. You can order it here.

The Chemical Brothers on the rooftop of Radio Nova (Paris, 1997)

Sextoy & la Bourette at the American Center (Paris, 1995)

Untitled (Paris, 1993)

Untitled (Paris, 1993)

Miss Kittin at Radio FG (Paris, 1996)

Matthew Herbert at Rex Club (Paris, 1996)

Manu le Malin at Aqualand (Gif-sur-Yvette, 1992)

The rave at Aqualand (Gif-sur-Yvette, 1992)

Le Queen (Paris, 1997)

Laurent Garnier at Rex Club (Paris, around 1993)

Lady B at Rex Club (Paris, 1994)

Jérôme Pacman at Le Queen (Paris, 1994)

Jeff Mills at Royal Moncel Abbey (Pontpoint, 1993)

The esplanade at the Musée d’art moderne (Paris, 1994)

DJ Pierre at Radio FG (Paris, 1994)

DJ Krush at Payenne Square (Paris, 1995)

Dave Clarke at Radio FG on rue Rébeval (Paris, 1994)

Carl Craig at Bourget (Paris, 1994)

Arnaud Rebotini (Zend Avesta) on rue de Charonne (Paris, 1997)

The afterparty at St. Louis Hospital (Paris, 1992)

Josh Wink on the balcony at Radio FG (Paris, 1995)

100% Isis at Folie's Pigalle (Paris, 1993)

A picture disc at Radio FG (Paris, 1994)