The Ten Weirdest 90s Rave Customs According to Slipmatt
The hardcore icon takes us back to the stranger side of living it large.
As much as we bless the heady days of 1990s rave culture with the prestige it deserves, it's easy to forget just how ridiculous the whole thing got from time to time. While the era was defined by legendary raves and game-changing DJs, there were just as many questionable outfits or inexplicable habits that emerged with scene. Now, without trying to make anyone sound old, we were still in nappies when most of this was going on so in order to get a refresher course on the weirder face of the rave, we hit up happy hardcore and rave break icon Slipmatt. Here are his top ten weirdest rave customs...
One of the funniest rave accessories of the very early 90s was the baby's dummy. Why on earth would you want to go to a warehouse or club and dance all night with a dummy in your mouth, one may certainly want to ask? Well it was a rather silly look but there was a valid reason, it's just not obvious if you weren't necking e's back then!
The 'Vicks VapoRub' phase didn't seem to last for too long in my mind but, cor-blimey, it will never be forgotten! Something catching your eye is one thing but there was no mistaking that strong smell of eucalyptus oil and the other nasal clearing ingredients wafting through the venues back in 1992. Many a time did I see ravers rubbing the lotion on each other's backs. In fact I think I had to defend myself a couple of times from some over friendly Vicks rubbers, who only had their best intentions for me I'm sure and were just trying to give my e-buzz a bit of a lift!
Whistles and Horns
Whistle Posse, Hornz Posse, "MAKE SOME NOISE" was one of the major lyrics originated by the Rave MC pumping through the sound system. Bringing your whistles and hornz was certainly a Rave essential for the dedicated ones, but pre 1989 was more for the football stadium than a nightclub.
One Shoe In The Air
Right off the back of the classic Shut Up & Dance hit "Raving I'm Raving", the first line of lyrics from the tune—"Put on my raving shoes"—turned in to "Take off your raving shoe" and for me, Ratpack are the instigators of the one shoe in the air phenomenon, sometimes managing to get 100s, at times possibly 1000s of people on the dancefloor to take one shoe off and hold it in the air when the tune was dropped. In fact, even a couple of days ago at a rave in Norwich, as soon as Lipmaster Mark dropped the first beat of that tune, I turned around and there was already a raver standing next to me with his trainer held faithfully in the air.
Sorry, I see the point in a lot of rave trends and customs, especially being in the know with the reasons behind things like Vicks, but I'm really not keen on fluffy boots or fluffy boot covers! If you remember raving at The Sanctuary in Milton Keynes, you'll remember how dirty and wet the floor used to get so they're certainly not practical in any way. You needed waders to get in and out of the toilets unblemished in that venue! And they really didn't look sexy. Fluffy boots were a massive part of the hardcore rave scene, but definitely not for my pleasure and I'm sure outsiders would have thought "WTF?"
White gloves were everywhere in 91/92/93 and then they just seemed to disappear! If I'm honest they didn't make sense to me even as a hardcore DJ. It baffled me to see grown men, some of them quite rough, tough, mature (usually), with cool reps, and others quite well-to-do and affluent during the week, but still donning the white gloves and waving their hands in the air all weekend to piano sounds and techno riffs. One downside was that the handshakes were quite soggy at times, but all that said, I have great memories of a fashion that is truly unique to one era and one era only. Big up the White Glove Crew!
Another rave invention as far as I'm aware, and one that stuck around for many moons. As a raver I assume you get some pleasure out of waving a glow stick or two around to the music while dancing your tits off. Problem for me as a DJ is I don't want to wave them and I can't really while DJing anyway. Yet I always used to get ravers trying to force glow sticks on me! If I was pissed I'd usually end up sticking one behind my ear maybe for a few tunes or ramming one in to my headphones to keep in the party spirit. In all fairness though, although it probably didn't make much sense to the non-raving general public, it made the parties a lot more fun and colourful.
Many a time I've been driving in to town looking for a venue and suddenly come across what I thought was a crew of workmen walking down the road at well past midnight. "Why on earth are they working at this time of night?" would echo around the car and then we'd see them stroll in to the local nightclub! Not knocking the attire as it makes great history and a brighter dance arena but it totally baffled me at the time, and still does!
A bit like workmen jackets I suppose, but hotter unless you're naked underneath. I know raves got very hot and sweaty at times, especially venues like Bagleys in Kings Cross back in the day, but surely they weren't so dirty and dusty that you had to cover up like you would on a building site with a boiler suit? What a unique time we have lived in to have experienced people wearing protective and safety garments to go out raving and clubbing in, I love it!
This one, for me, actually originates from the other side of the pond. I first saw Candy Ravers in Canada in the mid-90s and they have since spread across the USA and beyond. Basically ravers covered in loops of multi coloured Candy Beads and bracelets, with soft toys strapped to their backs—offering hugs all round! The philosophy of PLUR—Peace, Love, Unity and Respect—is the attitude that prevails so I'm not going to complain about that! That doesn't mean it all makes sense, but I wish them well and have gratefully accepted many beads and hugs as gifts over the years.
Slipmatt will appear at the Coronet Theatre for the Love Rave, New Year's Eve. Tickets and info can be found here.