Life

Heartwarming Photos of 90s Raver Couples, Then and Now

"The music stays with you forever, and we’ve passed it on to the kids. I wouldn’t have changed anything. Not a thing."
November 25, 2020, 1:01pm
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When you’re gyrating through the vivid kaleidoscope of an acid house rave, finding your future life partner is likely the last thing on your mind. Sure, “love is the drug”, but also, drugs are the drug, meaning that late-night smoking area encounter is easily forgotten the morning after a big night out.

The rave scenes of the late-1980s through the early-2000s are remembered by those who were there as the golden years. The summer of 1988 was dubbed the “Second Summer of Love”, thanks to the rise of free parties across the UK, the unity found in the scene and the large amount of ecstasy consumed. But did anyone actually find lasting love in the early rave scene?

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I spoke to some couples who raved together and stayed together.

CLAIRE AND STEVEN, KENT, ENGLAND

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VICE: What can you remember from the time?
Claire: I was three months pregnant at the time. Steven was working at a bed factory and I was doing fruit picking. We’ve been together since 1994 and went to our first rave together in 1995.

I’ve got so many stories and so many different memories. It’s absolutely amazing. Since I went to my first rave, which was United Dance in Stevenage in 1995, I’ve never looked back. I’m so glad I did it all. I’ve got so many memories now.

Any favourite raves?
The Sanctuary was a purpose-built warehouse in Milton Keynes – that was my favourite venue. Now, it’s an Ikea. Tazzmania in Hastings was on the end of the pier. I loved it, but it was a bit scary sometimes when you were off your nut and could feel it bouncing. They were wicked. Now, it’s all too pretentious,. If we go out, I like to go to the really dirty, dingy pubs. People think I’m mad, but it reminds me of how it used to be.

You guys still go raving?
We go at least twice a month. We took our son to his first one on his 18th birthday, Jungle Mania. He likes drum and bass. Now it’s like a family event!

What’s your secret to a lasting love?
Drugs [laughs]. From when we went raving together we’ve got so many different memories, and you just… carry on. I think we’re like peas in a pod, really.

MARCUS AND KATIE, GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND

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How is it for you looking back on those times?
Marcus: When I look back, if somebody had come up to me that night and said, “This is what the future holds,” I’d say, “You’re having a laugh, ain’t ya?” [laughs]. We’re best mates. We’ve been together 30 years soon. We just plod along. That was one of our first events out together as a couple.

I’d been out of school a year – I would’ve been 17, and Kate was nearly 19. I got into DJing that year as well, and I’ve DJed ever since. I run my own night at the moment called Dance Conspiracy in Gloucester – I’ve got a big part of the rave scene still in me! This is the first year in 28 years I’ve not played anywhere, basically. I’d be out gigging every weekend usually.

It’s amazing for us to look back at that photo, it puts a smile on our faces. The atmosphere… the laughs we had… you never knew what the next weekend was gonna bring. I’m still friends with the people I met 30 years ago, so there’s got to be something special about it. Does that make sense? I suppose it was a special generation.

What’s your secret to lasting love?
We love doing the same type of things together. She comes alongside me to support me. We love the same music. If I want to play a song while I’m DJing, I get her choice on it. I trust her on these things. It just makes the relationship work, I suppose. I’ve got three kids with Kate, teenagers. One of them has just started DJing, too.

SARAH AND DARREN, ESSEX, ENGLAND

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What do you remember from the time?
Sarah: So, we got together on my 21st birthday. There was a lot of love in the 90s, that’s all I’m gonna say [laughs].

We’ve got such happy memories. We’ve got friends that we’re still in touch with now. Is it sad… in a way? No, no. It just fills me with joy, really. We’re really lucky to be part of it, actually. I’ve only got happy, happy memories of those times. We’re quite fortunate, because we still go out. It never left, really [laughs]. We’re still massively into music. It stays with you forever, and we’ve passed it on to the kids. I wouldn’t have changed anything. Not a thing.

Favourite rave?
Club UK [in Wandsworth, south west London) was definitely my favourite club. When that closed down, Bagley’s [in King’s Cross] was the place. It was just mad. There’s nothing that compares now. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Club UK – I know it’s really cliché, but everybody was just so kind. It wasn’t just because they were shitfaced, I spoke to people who were straight. They were just lovely people. People I would never have gotten the opportunity to speak to. You chat through the night, you wave, you nod, you hug, you get chatting with the DJs, bring the DJs back to the house.

Do you still go out clubbing?
We go to Ibiza every year, to Amnesia, DC-10, Space, Zoo Project, all the places we used to go back in the 90s. I’m nearly 47 now, so me and Darren have been together for 26 years. We’re actually quite opposite. Music is massive for us. I’ve got decks and a vinyl collection. We go party, we go do our own thing, we go to festivals, day raves. Memories keep us together too. We always talk about the good old days [laughs]. When we go to Ibiza now, we do it differently. We have dinner, then we have a nap, then we go out, whereas before we’d keep going all day. You just have to adjust when you get older. And we love each other! I think that’s what I should be saying [laughs].

JASON AND MELANIE, POWYS, WALES

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How is it for you looking back on those day?
Jason: I started DJing when I was 14, in 1987, and I still DJ now. I was doing pirate radio station at the time of that photo. I met Melanie in that club, Shelley’s [Laserdome, in Stoke-on-Trent]. It only seems like five minutes ago! It’s like the time has disappeared. It’s crazy how quick time goes – I’ve got a 26-year-old son now.

Favourite club?
I’d say Shelley’s was my favourite club. Shelley’s, Hacienda and Quadrant Park. Shelley’s was crazy. You had to get there at 6.30, 7 o’clock and queue for two-and-a-half hours. It was ridiculous. I’ve never known an atmosphere as good in all my life. It was mind-blowing!

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We started going out in mid-91, then we got married in ‘94… no, sorry, ‘93 we got married. [Melanie shouts from the kitchen] Oh, Mel’s saying it was ’95 we got married! This is what clubbing does to you, innit [laughs].

Do you still go out raving now?
We’ve just got tickets for the 30th reunion at Shelley’s, believe it or not. It’s in February.

What’s your secret to lasting love?
She’s very patient. Lots of tolerance! [laughs] And we just love each other. I was a DJ when I met her, so she knew what she was getting into with the music and stuff. As my career took off, she started helping out on the door, or promoting it, guest list and stuff. The scene became our life. My first studio was in our bedroom, in a small flat. We’d have people in the bedroom doing studio work while she was in bed. It’s crazy when I look back.

@Jak_TH