You probably know Julian Assange as that Australian computer programmer guy who founded WikiLeaks and dished up some dirt on the US Military and then got stuck in an embassy. But before all that, Assange was a raver.
That’s according to Paul Fleckney, author of the book Techno Shuffle: Rave Culture and the Melbourne Underground, who claims the white-haired whistleblower was a regular attendee at parties, clubs, and dancefloors around the city.
This makes perfect sense. First of all, yes: Assange looks exactly like the kind of guy who’d sell you a slug of ket at a bush doof. But the cultures of rave and neck-bearded technophilia have also been hand in glove for decades. Fleckney calls it the “cyberdelic” experience: “this fusion of technology and psychedelia”.
In conversation with the ABC, he also claims, “The techno scene here in Melbourne has always had a strong futurist element to it.”
Take, for example, the fact that many rave nights in the 90s offered “internet kiosks”—banks of computers where munted partygoers could log into chat rooms and converse with people on the other side of the world—and the idea of Assange being a familiar face at these kinds of events starts looking a little less surprising.
“It was very unusual for anyone to have internet at home,” Fleckney points out. “It was this new and exciting thing… [that] added another dimension to this kind of sensory overload that you already got at a rave… this global interface with the world.”
Was it while sitting at one of these global interfaces that Assange developed a penchant for tongue wagging and divulging truths? One can only speculate. But Fleckney does claim that Assange—then known simply as “Prof”—was one of the people who set up and configured the code for the computer terminals.
“Prof was actually one of Julian Assange’s many aliases,” Fleckney says. “Nobody knew who he was and a lot of people, I think, were very surprised later when they found out.”